Date of Award
Dr. Dan Doll
Dr. Elizabeth Steeby
Mr. Kenneth Rayes
In my thesis, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is examined using French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's mirror stage theory. In the novel, humans have built androids that are almost indistinguishable from humans except that they lack a sense of empathy, or so the humans believe. The Voigt-Kampff Machine is a polygraph-like device used to determine if a subject shows signs of empathy in order to confirm if one is an android or a human. Yet, should empathy be the defining quality of determining humanity?
In his article "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the ‘I’ as revealed in psychoanalytic experience," Lacan refers to a particular critical milestone in an infant's psychological development. When the baby looks in a mirror, they come to the realization that the image they are seeing is not just any ordinary image; it is actually themselves in the mirror. This "a-ha" moment of self-realization is what Lacan's Mirror Stage Theory is based on. According to Lacan's theory, the image that the child sees in a mirror becomes an "Other" through which they will always scrutinize and pass judgment on, for it is not how they have pictured themselves to be in their mind’s eye.
I hypothesize that the androids are humans' artificial and technological Other. It is my thought that Dick uses the conflict of determining the biological from the artificial, the effort to differentiate humans from androids and biological animals from artificial ones, to illustrate Lacan's psychoanalysis of the mirror stage and its importance in our continual search for determining what humanity is and who we really are.
Finn, Richelle V., "“More Human Than Human”: Lacan’s Mirror Stage Theory and Posthumanism in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (2018). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 2460.