Relations in Altered Carbon (2002)

By Michael Berman.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The relation between philosophy and literature has been historically contestable. Literature is in the business of weaving stories, expressing fictions and describing the myths by which we cast meaning into our lives. The recent sub-genre of science fiction, which appears with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1819), has continuously grown in breadth and scope; the stuff of science fiction a generation ago has become part and parcel of today’s fiction (computers, cell phones, etc.). Imaginative expression serves as a means for reflection on humanity as such. This self-re-cognizing about the relationality of self-existence is amply illustrated in Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon (2002). This work sports the standard paraphernalia of science fiction, as well as human genetic engineering and digitized reproducible personality-consciousnesses. This essay will examine two intersubjective relations in the novel: the protagonist’s contractual use of his sleeve (body); and his relation to his sleeve’s girl friend. With these elements, the novel challenges some of our most basic presuppositions regarding intrasubjective and intersubjective relations, and creatively explores different ways to understand a fundamentally altered conception of human being.

Keywords: Science Fiction, Relations, Intersubjectivity, Human Being

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.225-234. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.415KB).

Dr. Michael Berman

Associate Professor, Philosophy Department, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Michael Berman is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He specializes in comparative philosophy, with published articles on Continental and Asian philosophy. He is an associate editor for the “Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies”, and his current research focuses on phenomenology and the philosophy of religion.


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