Review: Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits? Edited by D.E. Wittkower (2011)

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I spent more time Reading “Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits?” than I expected to and it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the book. I spent time understanding the different philosophers and philosophies, and essentially re-adapting/reorganizing what I know about Philip K. Dick to the idea of the philosophizing storyteller (which is referred to several times in the book). I think looking at Dick’s work from the eye of a philosopher in addition to the eye of a literary critic brings much value to his works that I never imagined before.

The book consists of a series of topics each containing about three to four essays on that topic. Each of the essays is written by different academics so there is variety in the work that you wouldn’t have in a book written by one person. There were some essays that I didn’t like as much as others but overall I enjoyed the writing and I learned about many different philosophers, some I’d heard of or knew about and some I hadn’t. My background is in literature so I am accustomed to approaching writing from the literary critic or the English major/academic and this is the first philosophy of… book I’ve read so this shift of focus was new to me but I welcomed it.

Some of my criticisms of the book center around the essays that discussed the movies to explain philosophies (with exception of the section on Hollywood) but aren’t clear that the movies may be more or less faithful to the original story. The most guilty of these movies and the most often discussed are Adjustment Bureau, Minority Report, and Total Recall. I also have a background in Film Studies and I generally to believe that the director is the “author” of the movie so the implication that the ideas are Dick’s didn’t work for me. Some essays pointed out both the movie and the story, and compared the two which I appreciated. But this is not an issue with a majority of the book only part of it.

Many sources discuss how much of a visionary Philip K. Dick was and sources discuss his storytelling themes and ideas but to my knowledge, until this book, his work was not explored using different philosophies which makes this an essential book for any student or fan of Philip K. Dick.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Philip K. Dick and Philosophy: Do Androids Have Kindred Spirits? Edited by D.E. Wittkower (2011)

  1. I discuss Dick’s writing from a philosophical viewpoint – specifically, in relation to existentialism and the thinking of Karl Jaspers in particular – on my blog, Downcast Lids. If you’re interested, see for example the posts on 6 March and 18 January 2012 (discussing the ‘Second Variety’ collection). The address is: http://downcastlids.blogspot.com

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