Is the Theatre a Zombie? On the Successful Failures of Émile Zola

Is the Theatre a Zombie? On the Successful Failures of Émile Zola AbstractNaturalist theatre, in its late-nineteenth-century incarnation, and particularly in the work of Émile Zola, is often seen as advancing a physicalist view of the mind, where all mind states can be reduced to brain states. The novels and the plays do not uniformly or unambiguously support this analysis, so is the theory or the practice wrong? Physicalism is an idea that has had a recent renaissance, helped by the discoveries of neuroscience. Nevertheless I express some caution about the claims made for the eradication of free will. A range of thought experiments in the philosophy of mind have cast doubt on physicalism, culminating in David Chalmers’s much-debated zombie argument. I argue that zombies and their analogues represented deep social anxieties in the late nineteenth century, and make repeated appearances in Naturalism. The essay goes on to suggest that Naturalism should be considered to have conducted thought experiments, rather than just to have attempted to embody the theory on stage. Turning to John Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thought experiment, I suggest that theatre-making itself may be a kind of thought experiment model of the mind. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Anglia de Gruyter

Is the Theatre a Zombie? On the Successful Failures of Émile Zola

Anglia , Volume 136 (1): 21 – Mar 8, 2018

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Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Copyright
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
1865-8938
eISSN
1865-8938
D.O.I.
10.1515/ang-2018-0011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractNaturalist theatre, in its late-nineteenth-century incarnation, and particularly in the work of Émile Zola, is often seen as advancing a physicalist view of the mind, where all mind states can be reduced to brain states. The novels and the plays do not uniformly or unambiguously support this analysis, so is the theory or the practice wrong? Physicalism is an idea that has had a recent renaissance, helped by the discoveries of neuroscience. Nevertheless I express some caution about the claims made for the eradication of free will. A range of thought experiments in the philosophy of mind have cast doubt on physicalism, culminating in David Chalmers’s much-debated zombie argument. I argue that zombies and their analogues represented deep social anxieties in the late nineteenth century, and make repeated appearances in Naturalism. The essay goes on to suggest that Naturalism should be considered to have conducted thought experiments, rather than just to have attempted to embody the theory on stage. Turning to John Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thought experiment, I suggest that theatre-making itself may be a kind of thought experiment model of the mind.

Journal

Angliade Gruyter

Published: Mar 8, 2018

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