• Why I am Writing a Philosophical Fiction Book on Zombies (but not Necessarily Philosophical Zombies)

    Season 3 of the Walking Dead is hitting our screens any time soon, or now depending on where you live. It’s a great show about an apocalyptic pandemic which turns humanity into zombies and sees the survivors pick up the pieces of their lives and society and figure out how to continue to survive and start up a new society.

    What an awesome vehicle for philosophy! The series itself contains some juicy examples of moral dilemmas – enough to get any philosopher hooked. I love the idea of writing my own. So I am.

    I’m a few chapters in as I barely find time to devote to the project as I am spinning abundant plates with alarming consistency. And dropping them. That said, I am really quite excited about the prospect because it is a chance to deliver some fascinating philosophy to a potentially wide audience. I am interested in playing around with characters too. So far, the main characters I have introduced are, in no particular order:

    An ex-city type who has had a midlife crisis and is working in his mate’s surf shop.

    A stay-at-home mum who is a philosophy graduate, with her newborn baby.

    A (second / third generation Jamaican immigrant) female, agoraphobic blogger.

    A newly released, male minor offender, disaffected with society.

    An American who was sailing the Atlantic to the UK during the outbreak. Not sure of his background yet.

    I will be making someone a fundamental Christian (possibly the American, but that may be too cliched). However, I will not set them up as a straw man version of Christianity, nor will I vilify them. I am more interested in messing around with expectations, so on many occasions he or she might be ‘right’. There will, indeed, be philosophical arguments, both explicit between characters; but also implicit within thoughts and actions, as well as symbolically.

    As I have alluded, there will be some staggeringly poignant moral dilemmas. I can’t wait!

    As far as philosophical zombies are concerned, let me elucidate further. It isn’t by definition a book on philosophical zombies, but it will have some meaty reference to them. As wiki introduces them:

    philosophical zombie or p-zombie in the philosophy of mind and perception is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks conscious experiencequalia, or sentience.[1] When a zombie is poked with a sharp object, for example, it does not feel any pain though it behaves exactly as if it does feel pain (it may say “ouch” and recoil from the stimulus, or tell us that it is in intense pain).

    The notion of a philosophical zombie is used mainly in thought experiments intended to support arguments (often called “zombie arguments”) against forms of physicalism such as materialism,behaviorism and functionalism. Physicalism is the idea that all aspects of human nature can be explained by physical means: specifically, all aspects of human nature and perception can be explained from a neurobiological standpoint. Since a zombie is defined as physiologically indistinguishable from human beings, even its logical possibility would be a sound refutation of physicalism.[2]

    What an opportunity to investigate dualism! With actual (well, in my head…) zombies! I can tangibly feel your excitement building. Oh no, that’s the fan overheating on my laptop… So I will be looking into ideas of consciousness and physicalism within a fictional context.

    So that’s the general gist of things. Let me know what you think. Post some ideas down below. Tell me if it is the sort of thing that would interest you, or whether you think it sucks.

    Oh, and the working title is “Survival of the Fittest: Metamorphosis” (with Survival of the Fittest being the name of the series and Metamorphosis being the name of the first cracking installment!). Below is my first mess around with the potential cover. You get the idea:

    I like the idea of investigating the theory of evolution, and seeing the pandemic / zombies in evolutionary terms, competing with humanity.

    Category: Books


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce