I started watching Survivor around 2010. I was staying at my parents’ house a lot after my mom became a full-time caregiver for my dad, and she was a Survivor fan. Unexpectedly, I found myself drawn into the strategy and storylines. After my mom died, I continued to watch, and now I hash over the latest episodes with my aunt.
I currently study philosophy as a master’s degree student at the City University of New York, where I think about the relevance of philosophy to modern society. The United States has many public intellectuals, but few who I would label philosophers. Perhaps the closest is Sam Harris, but most of his energy is spent on pragmatic issues of politics, science, and religion. Significant philosophers like John Searle, Daniel Dennett, and David Chalmers give public talks at Google and TED – but honestly, how many people outside philosophy know who they are? I don’t count the legions of sophists who drape the word “philosophy” over their ideologies because it makes them seem wiser. (I’m looking at you, School of Practical Philosophy and your New York subway ads. “Sustainable happiness”! “Online classes”!)
I also heartily recognize that I don’t deserve to write about philosophy either.
Survivor is compelling to me in the same way that tales of human drama have always been. The themes of Survivor aren’t really that much different from Greek mythology or the Bible. We can choose to simply imbibe the popcorn enjoyment of it – or we can try to dig a little deeper. There didn’t seem to be anything on the internet that looked at Survivor from a philosophical perspective, so I figured what the hell, I’d give it a shot.