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Do electric sheep dream of androids? On the place of fantasy in the consideration of the nonhuman

Neill, Calum



Gautam Basu Thakur

Jonathan Michael Dickstein


From Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. through to Rosi Braidotti’s non-human actors, in fiction and theory alike, the notion of the non-human often runs very close to the human against which it would be defined. As the non in nonhuman pulls away from the human to which it is necessarily articulated, it appears that the human ‘we’ who conceive it perhaps struggle to think the nonhuman as properly nonhuman at all. The assumption of a secure starting point here – the human – might already be seen to be problematized from what we might take as the very beginning of the modern humanist project. If we accept Heidegger’s claim that we are all Cartesians in how we think of being human, then we ought perhaps to take seriously Descartes’ suspicion that the street below his window may have been populated with automatons. That is to say, at the core of our very conception of being human we already find the nonhuman other. Drawing on Lacan’s notion of fantasy, this chapter seeks to explore the manner in which we tend posit the nonhuman and how such positing carries with it an always uncertain positing of ourselves. Nowhere is this more deftly presented than in Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner where the differences presented between the various replicants stages the core function of fantasy in sustaining any distance at all from the nonhuman we may already be.


Neill, C. (2018). Do electric sheep dream of androids? On the place of fantasy in the consideration of the nonhuman. In G. Basu Thakur, & J. M. Dickstein (Eds.), Lacan and the Nonhuman (213-225). Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Acceptance Date Mar 31, 2017
Online Publication Date Jan 23, 2018
Publication Date Jan 23, 2018
Deposit Date May 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 12, 2017
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 213-225
Series Title The Palgrave Lacan Series
Book Title Lacan and the Nonhuman
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 9783319638164; 9783319638171
Keywords Electric sheep, androids, non-human, dream, fantasy,
Public URL


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