Existentialism? Exterminate!

A Cambridge boffin claims Daleks are one of the most terrifying villains because of they represent a moral philosophy of pure evil.

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A Cambridge boffin has answered one of life’s most baffling questions: why are Daleks so scary?

Dr Robin Bunce claims the iconic Dr Who baddies are so scary because the moral philosophy behind their actions is a philosophy of pure evil.

Bunce, a fellow at St Edmund’s and politics DOS at Homerton, claims that the Daleks depict the concept of evil better than heavy-hitting philosophers such as Socrates or Kant.

In a recent paper, released in the run-up to the new Dr Who series starting Saturday, he argues Daleks show us a horrible vision of what mankind could one day become.

Bunce says: “They are sexless, heartless brains, shut up in machines incapable of intimacy, who have forgotten what it means to laugh and no longer think of themselves as individuals.

“We recognise the Daleks as evil because they have lost all that we hold most dear.”

Despite not being physically able to climb up stairs and having a toilet plunger for an arm, the Daleks have terrified generations of young children and become the iconic bad guys in hit show Dr Who. Readers of sci-fi mag SFX recently voted them the “Best monster of all time”.

In the past, the fear factor of the Daleks has been put down to their intimidating physical appearance and creepy robotic voices, but Bunce  is on a mission to exterminate this viewpoint.

Bunce argues that the Daleks scare people because they represent a dominance of cold scientific reasoning over empathy and modern fears about the triumph of technology over humanity.

“The final lesson is that moral progress is achieved by enlarging the moral imagination, not by increasing our knowledge or becoming more rational,” said Bunce. “Empathy is the key.

Bunce’s paper is included in a new book titled Doctor Who and Philosophy – Bigger on the Inside. The book looks at how themes and ideas in the TV series can help the viewer understand just “Who” they really are.