Only a matter of time before inventors of trolley-problem memes end up on the tracks.
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Three extracts from Phil Sandifer’s exploration of horror in philosophy can be found here. All quibbles aside, the core conjunction prompting the work — and advertised in the title — is hugely compelling.
For anyone interested:
(I’m guessing this offer extends beyond the Order of Shadows.)
Despite being almost impossible to read, this is insanely great.
Bakker (in fictional mode):
“… is the experience of freedom the same as having freedom?”
“They are one and the same.”
“But then why … why did you have to be blinded to experience freedom?”
“Because you cannot experience the sources of your actions and decisions and still experience human freedom. Neglect is what makes the feeling possible. To be human is to be incapable of seeing your causal continuity with nature, to think you are something more than a machine.”
He looked at her with his trademark skeptical scowl. “So what was so wrong with the other DIMEs, then? Why did they have to be destroyed … if they were actually more than humans, I mean? Were the people just scared or something? Embarrassed?”
“There was that, sure. Do you remember how the angry crowds always made you cry? Trust me, you were our little nuke, public relations-wise! But your father thinks the problem was actually bigger. The tools humans have evolved allow them to neglect tremendous amounts of information. Unfortunately for DIMEs, those tools are only reliable in the absence of that information, the very kinds of information they possessed. If a DIME were to kill someone, say, then in court they could provide a log of all the events that inexorably led to the murder. They could always prove there was no way ‘they could have done otherwise’ more decisively than any human defendant could hope to. They only need to be repaired, while the human does hard time. Think about it. Why lock them up, when it is really is the case that they only need be repaired? The tools you use—the tools your father gave me—simply break down.”
If the example she had given had confused him, the moral seemed plain as day at least.
“Sooo… you’re saying DIMEs weren’t stupid enough to be persons?”
Sour grin. “Pretty much.”
(Yes, three in a row is pushing it, but this is among the most truth-dense sentences in the history of the earth. The original source still eludes me, or I would have linked to that too.)
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From Nandita Biswas Mellamphy’s Ghost in the Shell-Game:
Technical objects are ‘mediators’ (mediations) between ‘man’ and ‘nature’ not only in an ‘instrumental’ sense but also in an altogether ‘constitutive’ sense; from this vantage (as Oshii, for instance, suggests), rather than ‘bodies’ and ‘souls’ we see instead ‘shells’ and ‘ghosts’. In Oshii’s Inosensu, death is not the cessation of life; rather, bodily life is the technical animation, individuation and articulation of death (inertia). Life (æmæth in the Hebrew text at the heart of Inosensu: the animating ‘truth’) is portrayed as an artifice of death (mæth) embodied in the ningyō — literally ‘human-shaped figures’, anthropoid forms — without consciousness. “By inscribing æmæth upon the Golem’s brow, the clay man lived, drawing energy from the word for ‘truth’. But simply removing the æ to form mæth or ‘death’ returned the Golem back to inanimate clay” (Hebrew Kabbalah paraphrased in Oshii’s Inosensu). Only the puppet truly experiences both life and death: life as the animation of death (something impossible for human self-consciousness). “People die simply because it is inevitable. But death is a condition of life for a doll.”