The words of Leonard Nimoy as the character Captain Spock in the film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In the film, Spock brings the meaning of these words to a poignant reality by sacrificing his life to save the life of the Enterprise crew.

To the best of my knowledge, this precise quote originates from the film. I had expected to find it attributed to a philosophical work, religious or political treatise or even a fictional work. In those contexts, I suppose one could ask 1) Is this a logical statement, as the fictional Vulcan would have us believe? and 2) Logical or not, does it make sense, is it the right way to go about things?

In the film, I believe we as the audience are meant to see the worth in Spock's self sacrifice. At the same time we are also to consider his friend James Kirk: he cannot be consoled over the loss of Spock, and said of him, " . . . of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human," -- perhaps saying that it is Spock's humanity, his singular existence that cannot be replaced. In that way, Kirk cannot see the worth in self sacrifice and stands juxtaposed to Spock's way of thinking and his ultimate decision -- as he asserts more explicitly in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock when he tells Spock, "The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many."

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