2020-04Discussion Papers, Comments, Book Reviews
To Serve Man? Rod Serling and Effective Destining


Popular culture is a vital part of the philosophy of culture. Immersion in the world of popular culture provides an immanent understanding, and after all, some of what is merely popular culture today will be the high culture of tomorrow. The genre of science fiction is one of the more important and durable forms of cultural and social (and even religious) criticism. Science fiction narratives guide our imaginations into the relation between the might-be and the might-have-been. The central idea of this paper is that possibilities have an existence that is intelligible to us, independent of and indifferent to actualities, and involving a distinction between “constellated possibilities” which form a pattern dependent upon one’s perspective in some actual standpoint, and “clustered” possibilities, which actually exist entangled and inseparable from one another, as possibilities. Science fiction writers intuitively know that if one introduces a variation into the present in order to trace a plausible alternative storyline from that standpoint, certain other variations will have to accompany the chosen variation in order to maintain the unity of the plot. I use Rod Serling, the creator of the legendary series The Twilight Zone, as an example in this paper. Hence, science fiction writers do work with clusters as well as constellations of possibilities (things that merely might happen and things that almost assuredly will eventually happen), and they experience the clusters with a stronger feeling of necessity. I call that feeling Wirkungsschicksal, of “effective destining.” I will develop this distinction and that stronger feeling of necessity into a method for the philosophy of culture.


popular culture, science fiction, classic television, possibility, future time, effective destining, Rod Serling

How to cite:

Auxier, Randall E. “To Serve Man? Rod Serling and Effective Destining.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 4, no. 4 (2020): 190-204. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2020.0047.


Randall E. Auxier
Department of Communication Studies, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Communications Building, Mail Code 6605, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA


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