Ignoring the Borg in the Room

Look at the state of academic philosophy today. Philosophers begin from the concerns of philosophers rather than from contemporary problems.

Take for instance a subject like metaphysics. Issues laden with metaphysics are in the news every day. Recently (May 25, 2014) the Washington Post described a patient taking heart pills that include ingestible microchips: the chips link up with her computer so that she and her doctor can see whether she had taken her meds. The story also describes soon-to-be marketed nanosensors that live in the bloodstream and will be able to spot the signs of a heart attack before it occurs. These are issues that could fall under an “Existence and Identity” section in any Metaphysics course.

At stake here are not just new physical instruments, but metaphysical questions about the nature of self and the boundary between organism and machine. Philosophers miss real chances to frame such a section in terms of our increasingly Borg-like existence rather than solely in terms of scholastic debates.


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