2011 Abstracts Stage 3

Identity on a Razor’s Edge: the Dialectic of Self-Hood in “Blade Runner”

A study in the dialectic existing between the master and the slave within the post-modern situation of Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie ‘Blade Runner’, in discussing the theories found within Hegel and Nietzsche.

In the fictional early 21st Century, mankind has developed technology to such an extent that artificial beings, replicants can now be produced; these are not to be employed for the emancipation and enlightenment of man, but as slaves. They are granted no freedom and are subject to death at the end of their service or upon their return to the birth place. They are the ultimate slave, and mankind has become the ultimate master.

Their very servitude grants these replicants an identity, which forms an aspect to the dialectic which constitutes mankind’s self-hood. Hegel informs us of the need for recognition in the formation of self-hood; the master requires the slave in order to be recognised as an individual, but relationship is unequal. The slave has a greater access to the needs to man and as a result grows in humaneness leading to the eventual overthrowing of the master. This process culminates in a replicant saving the life of the police ‘Blade Runner’ who has slaughtered his friends; the civilised slave has overcome the barbaric master.

The replicants and their motivation to overthrow the shackles of their servitude and forced deaths, act as an example of Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’, by which an individual affirms their existence by overcoming the obstacles which stand between him and autonomy. This occurs as throughout the movie, the replicants, the artificial human beings, show a greater degree of humaneness than the human masters.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Empathy Boxes … and … Substance D … and Bleekman … and Newspaper Puzzles … and … Gubble … and … Ubik … and … Exegeses: Becoming Philip K. Dick

I will explore the life and work of Philip K. Dick, best known for writing Science Fiction, by closely examining a number of his novels, as well as a selection of his non-fictional, philosophical, theological and literary writings, coupled with information obtained from biographies and interviews with the man himself. The main themes permeating his life and work which I will explore are the nature of reality, the psyche and humanity, especially in relation to contemporary capitalist society. Of particular interest will be his exploration of the concepts of sanity, considering his views on schizophrenia and paranoia, and his treatment of ideas about selfhood, identity and subjectivity. I will explore these areas in terms of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, both alone and in collaboration with Felix Guattari. I will pay particular attention to the concepts of schizoanalysis, rhizomatics, territorialization, lines of flight, nomadology, becomings, machines and difference. My aim, rather than to reach a definitive conclusion, is simply to explore the vast and complex works of both men, using each to shed light on the other, and to pose questions, rather than propose answers, which will have a profound effect on the way we view the world.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

The Cyborg: Inhuman or Utopian?

The Cyborg Concept: The first section of my project sets out a definition of the cyborg as a cybernetic organism: the symbiotic combination of human and machine. From this definition I explore the idea that we now live in a cyborg society where the combination of human and machine has become the norm. The Cyborg Concept in Science Fiction: The second section of my project involves a discussion of the depiction of cyborgs in science fiction and the fears/hopes involved in the narratives. Since Haraway and Baudrillard have agreed that the line between science fiction and reality is illusory it is apparent that these issues are important today. Cyborg Acceptance/Cyborg Resistance: The third section of my project explores arguments for dissolving the boundaries between human and machine and for protecting these boundaries. The main sources of reference are Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ and Jean-Francois Lyotard’s ‘The Inhuman’. Heidegger and Technology: In the final section I discuss Heidegger’s claim in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ that technology is so imbedded in our time that we cannot accept or resist it. We use technology but technology uses us too: it is our way of seeing the world yet it determines us. Vattimo says that the subject is weakened by technology and a weak subject is essential if we are to deny metaphysics.