The Humanism of Doctor Who

A Critical Study in Science Fiction and Philosophy


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About the Book

From 1963 to 1989, the BBC television program Doctor Who followed a time-traveling human-like alien called “The Doctor” as he sought to help people, save civilizations and right wrongs. Since its 2005 revival, Doctor Who has become a pop culture phenomenon surpassing its “classic” period popularity and reaching a larger, more diverse audience. Though created as a family program, the series has dramatized serious themes in philosophy, science, religion, and politics. Doctor Who’s thoughtful presentation of a secular humanist view of the universe stands in stark contrast to the flashy special effects central to most science fiction on television. This examination of Doctor Who from the perspective of philosophical humanism assesses the show’s careful exploration of such topics as justice, ethics, good and evil, mythology and knowledge.

About the Author(s)

David Layton, associate professor of English at DeVry University in Pomona, California, has published articles and reviews on literature, science fiction, film, television, and music.

Bibliographic Details

David Layton

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 364
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6673-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8944-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Why Doctor Who?      5
2. What Is Humanism?      26
3. Existence      45
4. Knowledge      66
5. Archetypes and Mythology      96
6. Religion      125
7. Science      156
8. Good and Evil      178
9. Ethics      201
10. Politics      247
11. Justice      300

Chapter Notes      331
Works Cited      341
Index      347

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “wonderful, offering a wealth of material for scholars of both philosophy and Doctor Who…an excellent addition…invaluable”—SFRA Review
  • “an in-depth exploration of the philosophical and political themes and lessons of the Doctor Who television series”—Reference & Research Book News