Website Content

The Being of Replicants



Wheeler M (2017) The Being of Replicants. The Institute of Art and Ideas website, news section, Philosophy for, 24.10.2017. of-replicants-auid-911.

First paragraph: It’s a common observation thatBlade Runnerinspires us to reflect on what it means to be human. The principal cause for such reflection is, of course, the cast of replicants – the bioengineered humanoid creatures originally produced by the Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. As the opening, scene-setting text famously informs us, following a bloody off-world mutiny by a group of Nexus 6 replicants, the creatures are declared illegal on Earth and are hunted down and terminated (‘retired’) by special police units known as blade runners. Against this backdrop, the replicants repeatedly engage our thoughts and emotions by blurring the distinction between the human and the non-human. Confronted by an event such as Rachael’s distressed reaction when Deckard exposes the truth about her ‘memories’ or Roy Batty’s poetic dying speech, we ask ourselves one of those stubborn and demanding existential questions: ‘what does it mean to be human?’. Unsurprisingly, this is a question that philosophers through the ages have tried to answer, and one historically influential response comes from the controversial German thinker, Martin Heidegger, most notably in the pages of his groundbreaking 1927 text,Being and Time. Of course, Heidegger didn’t know anything about replicants. Nevertheless, as I hope to show, we can use his ideas to see the blurring of the human and the non-human inBlade Runnerin a new and productive light.

Publication date24/10/2017
PublisherThe Institute of Art and Ideas
Publisher URL…licants-auid-911

People (1)


Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor Michael Wheeler

Professor, Philosophy