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Steven Shaviro’s book Discognition (Repeater Books, 2016) opens with a series of questions: What is consciousness? How does subjective experience occur? Which entities are conscious? What is it like to be a bat, or a dog, a robot, a tree, a human being, a rock, a star, a neutrino? Discognition looks at a series of fascinating science fiction narratives – in some cases reading philosophical or scientific literature as speculative fiction – to raise important questions about consciousness and sentience and to help readers understand the significance of those questions for how we live with ourselves and each other. In addition to opening up some wonderfully thoughtful and provocative works of science fiction, the book also models a transdisciplinary mode of scholarship that is as inspiring as it is effective.

Carla Nappi is the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. You can learn more about her and her work here.

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