The changing relationship between humans and machines in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
LE3 .A278 2010
La Rocque, Lance
Bachelor of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
This thesis is an exploration of N. Katherine Hayles‘ ― Posthumanism,‖ and Martin Heidegger‘ s call for a more open relationship with technology, as applied to the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick. This novel in particular exhibits the posthuman condition, as described by Hayles in her text How We Became Posthuman: the human characters, as well as the android ones, are ― posthuman subjects,‖ as Hayles describes them. Furthermore, Martin Heidegger, in his essay ― The Question Concerning Technology,‖ describes his view of the way that humans relate to technology; as a means to an anthropocentric end. In Dick‘ s novel, the humans have an attitude towards technology that is quite similar to the one Heidegger outlines, and in which the human characters must re- assess how they see themselves as distinct from machines, in a world rampant with technologies that threaten an autonomous humanity. Yet, through the progress in the novel, the protagonist undergoes a change from this attitude towards a more open relationship with technology. This new attitude towards technology is what both Hayles and Heidegger hope for in the conclusions of both their writings. The first chapter addresses ways in which the novel exhibits characteristics outlined by both Hayles and Heidegger, in particular how traditional boundaries between biological human life and programmed machine life are compromised. The second chapter outlines the way in which the protagonist undergoes his shift of attitude, and the crucial role that sexual desire towards an android body plays in this shift, followed by a short discussion of how the film adaptation Blade Runner explores these same themes. The third, concluding chapter, is an attempt to show how the concerns in the novel, as suggested by Hayles and Heidegger‘ s theories, relate to how humans today relate to vi technology, suggesting that perhaps a shift similar to that in the novel would be a beneficial one for all of humanity.
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