✍Philosophy in The Flash⚡️ (SEASON 1) Post 2
The Ethics & Implications of Time-Travel
The philosophical concept of time-travel is particularly interesting and key to the Flash TV Series. When running at his fastest speed in Episode 15, S1 ‘Out Of Time’, Barry discovers that he has created a hole in the fabric of time and is experiencing a ‘Groundhog day’, in which he is essentially reliving the whole previous day again. When Barry purposely varies in the words and actions he says and does as he preempts/attempts to stop bad things from happening, he creates an alternate ending to the day: creating a new timeline.
Does a person have a right to go back into the past and alter the timeline?
Even the smallest factor that he changes: such as arriving somewhere one minute later, creates a butterfly effect that alters everyone else’s behaviour around him and therefore the whole day’s outcome. However, all of the terrible events, occurrences and deaths that Barry tries to resist, essentially repeat themselves but in different forms equally severe. This concept relates to the philosophical notion that where there is death, there is always death and the idea that the fate of a day still essentially needs to follow a formula, no matter what factors or conditions are changed.
Additionally, there are severe ethical implications surrounding time travel. Does a person have a right to go back into the past and alter the timeline (not just for themselves but unwittingly for others, too) or alternatively, travel into the future to alter one’s destiny and the events to their own advantage or favour? In my opinion, a person does not; not only due to the dangerous historical alterations that travelling in time can cause and due to no one having the right to change the past, but because I believe what is done is done, and the implications posed by the concept of fate and morality.
If we had the chance to kill Hitler, though we would be saving millions of lives, what else would be impacted or changed? Hitler, despite all the evil he comes to commit, has the universal right to live as all humans do (although arguably, Hitler’s acts did make him something other than some definitions of human). Would the nature of fate make it so that someone else similar to Hitler, one day rises to power and does the same thing later in time; therefore making our efforts pointless? Or do things, terrible things, happen for a mysterious reason; a purpose that we cannot comprehend? This idea is expressed well in the quote by Martin Luther King Jnr., “Only in the darkness can you see the stars”.
Further, if Barry Allen had succeeded in saving his mother, he would have altered time to his favour…but at what expense? Would he even be the same person or work at the police department; as he would have no real drive or inner motivation to work in that field, as this had derived from the childhood tragedy of his mother’s death? Essentially, in my philosophy, things are meant to happen for a reason and that the natural order of time and life should not be altered, no matter the intentions of the time-traveller.