Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha

Surak, founder of modern Vulcan philosophy

"You're about to remind me that logic alone dictates your actions?"
"I would not remind you of that which you know so well."
- Kirk and Spock (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Beginning in the 4th century, Vulcan philosophy revolved around the concept of logic. The highest objective of a traditional Vulcan life was to either control or suppress all emotion, thus rendering a purely logical being. This difficult task was attained through meditation and discipline. As Vulcans approached or reached maturity, it was customary to train under the tutelage of a Vulcan master in the Kolinahr ritual, to purge themselves of any remaining lack of emotional control. The father of Vulcan philosophy was Surak, (TOS: "The Savage Curtain") who helped lead the Vulcan people out of a time of savagery and violence into their new era of peace. His introduction of logic and emotional discipline ushered in the Time of Awakening. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")

Though committed to the concept of total logic, Vulcan philosophy after the Time of Awakening did not totally abandon its past. Vulcans continued to maintain ceremonies dedicated to ancient religious beliefs and physical training. The Vulcans reasoned that complete dedication to logic could allow for weakness and frailty to arise and endanger them, thus ancient practices such as the kahs-wan were preserved and many Vulcans continued some form of dedication to their ancient gods, including ritual pilgrimages. (TAS: "Yesteryear")

These ideals were forgotten by many Vulcans around the 22nd century, leading to a corrupt governmental system. Unknown at the time, their government had been infiltrated at the highest levels by Romulan operatives, misleading the population with a distorted version of Surak's teachings. A small faction called Syrrannites, founding their philosophy on what was believed to be his true works, discovered Surak's original texts, restoring the society he had built. Other works related to this philosophy are Kiri-kin-tha's First Law of Metaphysics ("Nothing unreal exists") and T'Plana-Hath's statement that "Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; ENT: "The Forge")

Vulcans embraced cultural and racial diversity, as again evidenced through the IDIC. Vulcans also embraced a pacifist philosophy, going so far as to follow strict vegan diets to avoid killing even non-sentient animals. Vulcans believed that the needs of a very large group should go before the needs of a very small group or any individual. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; VOY: "Endgame"; ENT: "The Council")

T'Pol gave Captain Archer a book on the subject, The Teachings of Surak, to read during shore leave on Risa. (ENT: "Two Days and Two Nights")

Vulcan Philosophy was a topic of study at Starfleet Academy by the 24th century. (VOY: "In the Flesh") Because Data was not affected by feelings or emotional considerations, he considered himself closer to being Vulcan than Human; however, he was not attracted to Vulcan philosophy. He felt that although their devotion to logic had a certain appeal in its simple purity, he found overall that this was a somewhat stark philosophy, lacking beauty and joy. (TNG: "Data's Day")

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one," expressed in Human history by the philosopher John Stuart Mill as "the greatest good for the greatest number", is a fundamental element of Vulcan philosophy.


Vulcan thought has been compared to Asperger syndrome on at least three occasions outside of canon. In the 2005 novel Orion's Hounds, Counselor Troi wonders if Surak had the Vulcan equivalent of Asperger syndrome. In The Hounds of Baskerville, a 2012 episode of Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is compared to Spock, and is speculated to have Asperger's syndrome. In the 2017 film Please Stand By, a young woman with Asperger's syndrome attempts to submit her manuscript to a Star Trek writing competition. Her story concerns Spock's quest to understand humor.

See also

External links