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Browsing by Subject "twentieth century science fiction"

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  • Tamminen, Elisa (2018)
    In the landscape of twentieth century science fiction, Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? stands out as a visionary dystopian narrative that deals with central metaphysical concerns of human subjectivity and ontology in an age of advanced biotechnology and artificial intelligence. The present thesis explores the storyworld and plot of the novel through the lens of posthumanism, a paradigm of philosophical inquiry that calls into question our fundamental understanding of what it means to be human by examining the ways in which humans relate to non-human entities and environments. The aim of the thesis is to show how two strands of posthumanist thought, transhumanism and critical posthumanism, manifest throughout the narrative. The post-apocalyptic technoculture depicted in the novel provides a setting for deep posthuman anxiety and vulnerability, which stems mainly from the android challenging the human as a unique subject and strict ontological category. The novel presents a critique of the anthropocentric and speciesist values enforced by a transhumanist world view that is preoccupied with the advancement of the human condition beyond its biological and earthly limitations. Both animals and androids serve as commodified objects for humans to define themselves against, but what the novel reveals is the illusory nature of these boundaries, and the flaws of such an anthropocentric and Cartesian way of thinking. Dick’s vision of the future anticipated the dangers of a society characterized by the increasingly simulated nature of existence brought on by pervasive technological innovations. The novel exposes the pitfalls of transhumanist vision of the posthuman form that perpetuates the mechanization of humans and the humanization of machines, while still clinging on to the essentialized view of humans as dominant beings. By the end of the novel, however, the main characters, Deckard and Isidore, have transformative experiences through which they embrace a posthuman view of the world based on empathy and connectedness with non-human beings and environments.