The Walking Dead: Filtering Philosophy

I’m sure that this post may bring up debates, but here goes nothing and everything. This was a philosophy paper I wrote in high school.

I think therefore I am.  ~ René Descartes

Descartes: The Mind-Body Problem

The first episode of The Walking Dead shows many issues of philosophy, however these so-called issues aren’t issues in the book of the Descartes. The philosophy cogito ergo sum or “I think therefore I am” applies to not only the remaining living people in the beginning, but to the walkers as well. I believe the walkers could also be considered human because they appear to apply to Descartes’ thought of a human being: a thinking thing with memory.

To support my argument, in the very beginning of the episode a little zombie girl walks over to grab a teddy bear after she’s been bitten, proving due had memory of some sort of connection to a teddy bear or stuffed animal she had before she was was bitten. If the little walker had no capacity of memory, then she couldn’t be human, also that it must require thought in some way to recall a memory. In similarity, after Rick was shot and in the hospital, he was also able to remember previous emotional attachments after a traumatic event. (Everyone should know being almost devoured alive is most likely traumatic.)

I believe the walkers have minds due to the appearance of thought and memory, despite their lack–but not loss–of reasoning skills and doubt. The living show signs of reason (seldomly) and doubt along with thought and memory.

In addition to show walkers could be human, there is an underlying thought of the possibility that they are strategic like the humans that are alive. When Rick is found with the family in one off the abandoned houses in the Georgian town, a car alarm goes off which emits light and sound (these are attractive to walkers). It is possible that the walkers could have set it off to lure out some stupid prey for them to feast upon, but of the course the living classify them as unable to think so to them that couldn’t be possible. If the walkers had no minds then they wouldn’t be human by Descartes’ theory of a thinking animal or creature as human.

The walkers can also track the movements of their prey and remember where they raise, if they see light coming from a house, they camp out as groups collaborating in order to capture some prey. In order to get the living they must remember their tracks and therefore must have minds.

Also, I believe the episode shows that the walkers have emotion, making them human because they feel pain and understand misery and attachment for them (and basically ignoring those of the living.) The crawler experienced pain and suffering while her entrails were hanging out and most likely because of a rather vicious set of walkers. Plus, one of the walkers used to be one of the living’s wife and kept reappearing in front of the house in which her family was hiding, however she refused to eat them; she looked very sad and in reminiscence of her family she seems to walk away to keep her emotional bond with the memory of when she was living.

The walkers are thus human because they have minds and can think. “I think therefore I am” applies to them just as much as it would the living. Just because the walkers are the undead doesn’t mean they don’t have minds our aren’t human.


Comments accepted. Opinions expected. 🙂 ~ Ocie

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