The Trek BBS

The Trek BBS (http://www.trekbbs.com/index.php)
-   The Next Generation (http://www.trekbbs.com/forumdisplay.php?f=39)
-   -   Does Data have a soul? (http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=216943)

eskyliz June 16 2013 07:57 AM

Does Data have a soul?
 
I just got done rewatching "Return of the Archons" in the original series and I got to the end when Captain Kirk was talking about how the computer was not Landru because even though it had the knowledge that he had, it did not have the wisdom and compassion and it had no soul.

Now it's kind of obvious that the Landru computer had no soul. I mean it was leading a whole civilization that had almost no emotions. (No offense Vulcans. You're different.) But then I got to thinking. Why does Data seem to have a soul? He seems to have that spark of life just like any human. But he can't have a soul can he? I thought he was a machine and by Kirk's logic machines don't and can't have souls. Yet Data makes friends and even has a few romantic relationships. And we refer to him as "he" instead of "it." (Perhaps thats mostly because he's an android so he looks human and our brains are hot wired to recognize human faces and match them to names. Maybe we would call anything "him" or "her" if we painted a face on it.) Even though he's incapable of emotions, he understands that humans need creativity and feelings to be humans unlike the Landru computer which was only concerned with peace and order.

So my question is does Data have a soul or is he just another lifeless computer?

(Sorry if I sound like I hate Data. On the contrary, he's one of my favorites.)

R. Star June 16 2013 08:16 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Data is a toaster!

Sorry, had to. Anyways... on topic. There's a bit of difference between your comparison to the Landru machine and Data. He does have compassion and wisdom. He's quite possibly the most compassionate person on TNG. Wisdom? He can be naive at times, and remarkably perceptive at others. Is he perfect no? But those imperfections seem to me to be part of the human condition he's coveting.

As for a soul? I can't accept that as a criteria for sentience. If you can prove to me unequivocally that a human has a soul, then maybe I'll reconsider that. Until then I'd say it's just an abstract metaphysical term created by us to fill in the gaps between what we don't know and what we want to believe.

So is Data human? Obviously not. I do believe Louvois made the correct determination that while he's different he should have the freedom to find his own answers in it.

Timelord Victorious June 16 2013 09:09 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
I sort of agree.
You have to define "Soul" first before one can answer that.

He is a machine, yes, but so are we, just different material bodies.

We have a brain that produces our personality and so does Data.
From what I understand of his positronic matrix is, that it forms new neural pathways all the time and makes his brain as unique as every human's.
I think they had a diagram of it up in one episode.

Of course that is abit of sci-fi magic, but within the StarTrek universe that Data really is much more than a programmed automaton.
As much as we are anyway.

iguana_tonante June 16 2013 09:56 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.

Portal June 16 2013 10:03 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Do you have a soul? Do I have a soul? I don't know.

Now if Data were a Christian, I wonder what denomination he would chose to be. They're always asking that question when you go into the hospital, for instance.

Can androids be religious/spiritual?

Data is always striving to be more human, so I think he actually might believe in God and practice religion. He's always practicing his music and his art for example. But of course you have to consider whether or not he inherited a sort of atheism from his father and mother.

cheesepuff316 June 16 2013 10:30 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Although Data isn't human, he is still sentient and AWESOME! :D

Define having a soul.... Is it your personality, and everything that makes you who you are? Is it the spiritual thing that religion thinks it is? Is it like the katra for Vulcans?

Portal June 16 2013 10:43 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
^Does he have a strong Pah like the Bajorans?

MacLeod June 16 2013 11:01 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
This was one of the points made of "The Measure of a Man", it couldn't be proven or disproven that he had one, and the same went for a flesh and blood person.

Relayer1 June 16 2013 11:28 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Quote:

iguana_tonante wrote: (Post 8254663)
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.

Is the correct answer !

SonOfMogh June 16 2013 11:41 AM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
I think TNG made it pretty clear those silly superstitions are a thing of the past. I doubt anyone on the Enterprise believes they have a "soul".

R. Star June 16 2013 12:20 PM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
The soulless minions of orthodoxy rule the future.

Lt. Uhura-Brown June 16 2013 01:13 PM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Self-awareness is the seed from which the flower that is a soul, grows.

Chemahkuu June 16 2013 03:04 PM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Quote:

Relayer1 wrote: (Post 8254783)
Quote:

iguana_tonante wrote: (Post 8254663)
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.

Is the correct answer !

Exactly.

Mr. Laser Beam June 16 2013 03:40 PM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Yes, I believe Data has a soul. I don't care what he's made out of - he is a sentient being, and therefore has a soul. I feel the same way about the EMH.

Of course there's no way to prove something like this, I just have to take it on faith.

Charles Phipps June 16 2013 03:45 PM

Re: Does Data have a soul?
 
Quote:

iguana_tonante wrote: (Post 8254660)
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.

The issue is more complicated, even if you're an atheist (I'm not but that's not relevant). Soul can mean more than something that lives on past death but a certain Greek "spark of life" which renders something a person.

What's the difference between Data, Moriarty, the Doctor, your typical hologram, and a very well-done computer simulation? In Star Trek, the question of simulating life is an issue which is relevant because a simulation is not real. However, if that simulation is real enough to FEEL that is a person. If a simulation does not feel but merely is following its programming, it's not.

Yet, what is instinct if not programming?

Also, while Gene Roddenberry was an atheist, the Star Trek universe is composed by people who have expanded it tremendously beyond and in some places against his vision. Bill Shatner's Star Trek is a deistic universe while accepting DS9 as part of "your" canon also means that it's a universe where literally true supernatural religion is not in conflict with science.

It's more ambiguous in TNG and Voyager but even TOS has implications that religion isn't so much wrong as misinformed.


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 09:22 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.