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Westworld and Philosophy

Westworld and Philosophy

William Irwin (Series Editor), James B. South (Editor), Kimberly S. Engels (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-119-43798-7

Apr 2018, Wiley-Blackwell

280 pages


Product not available for purchase


A philosophical look at HBO’s Westworld that charts a course through the maze of the mind, examining how we think about humans, hosts, and the divide between authentic and artificial life

  • The first book dedicated to exploring the philosophical questions raised by the record-breaking, award-winning HBO series
  • Charts a course through the maze of the mind, raising numerous questions about the nature of consciousness and its bearing on the divide between authentic and artificial life
  • Explores topics including robots, zombies, and dystopia, memory and freedom, violence and pleasure, zoopolitics and anthropocentrism, dreams, mazes and metaphysics
  • Led by an experienced volume editor – James B. South, Mad Men and Philosophy (2010)
  • Guides readers through the show’s enigmatic twists and turns ahead of the release of Westworld’s second season


Contributors: Hosts and Guests viii

Acknowledgments: “Figuring out how it all works” xv

Introduction: Taking Sides in Westworld 1

Part I “You Said This Place Was a Game” 3

1 On Playing Cowboys and Indians 5
Don Fallis

2 A Special Kind of Game 15
Nicholas Moll

3 Humans and Hosts in Westworld 26
Marcus Arvan

Part II “You’re Only Human, After All” 39

4 Crossing the Uncanny Valley 41
Siobhan Lyons

5 Revealing Your Deepest Self 50
Jason T. Eberl

6 Westworld 61
Onni Hirvonen

Part III “We Can’t Define Consciousness Because

Consciousness Does Not Exist” 71

7 Turing’s Dream and Searle’s Nightmare in Westworld 73
Lucia Carrillo González

8 What Is it like to Be a Host? 79
Bradley Richards

9 Does the Piano Play Itself? 90
Michael Versteeg and Adam Barkman

Part IV “Choices Hanging in the Air Like Ghosts” 103

10 Maeve’s Dilemma: What Does it Mean to be Free? 105
Marco Antonio Azevedo and Ana Azevedo

11 “A Place to Be Free” 114
Joshua D. Crabill

12 From William to the Man in Black 125
Kimberly S. Engels

Part V “I’ve Always Loved a Great Story…Lies That Told a Deeper Truth” 137

13 Hideous Fictions and Horrific Fates 139
Madeline Muntersbjorn

14 Narrating Gender, Gendering Narrative, and Engendering

Wittgenstein’s “Rough Ground” in Westworld 150
Lizzie Finnegan

15 The Observer(s) System and the Semiotics of Virtuality in Westworld’s Characters 162
Patricia Trapero?]Llobera

16 What Does Bernard Dream About When He Dreams About His Son? 173
Oliver Lean

Part VI “I Choose to See the Beauty” 183

17 The Dueling Productions of Westworld: Self?]Referential Art or Meta?]Kitsch? 185
Michael Forest and Thomas Beckley?]Forest

18 Beauty, Dominance, Humanity: Three Takes on Nudity in Westworld 196
Matthew Meyer

19 Sci?]Fi Western or Ancient Greek Tragedy? 206
Caterina Ludovica Baldini

Part VII “You Can’t play God Without Being Acquainted With the Devil” 217

20 Of Hosts and Men 219
François Jaquet and Florian Cova

21 Violent Births 229
Anthony Petros Spanakos

22 The Wretched of Westworld 239
Dan Dinello