The intriguing but problematic HBO series Westworld provides a framework for a set of challenging readings on the philosophy of mind. The course seeks to bridge issues with contemporary technology and longstanding philosophical problems. It further seeks to revitalize a traditional humanities curriculum by confronting some of the most challenging problems to emerge from cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I thus harness various technological platforms to some very old aims: slow reading and slow writing. (I can provide a syllabus, if needed).
We live in a society that relies heavily on policing, surveillance, imprisonment and various post-carceral methods of control to address problems that result from unequal social, political and economic relationships. This reliance has devastating impacts for those directly targeted, as well as their families and communities and plays a major role in reproducing inequalities based in race, gender and social position. Using the United States as a primary case study, this course draws from anthropology’s best contributions to the topic, as well as a range of critical theoretical perspectives in order to closely examine the processes, systems and institutions through which certain groups of people come to be seen as criminal, criminalized and punished. Simultaneously, the course charts and analyzes the possibilities and politics of change.