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I am participating in a local conversation group, and I have briefly studied the mind body problem as a philosophy minor in college many moons ago. I wasn't sure if this question was best for sci-fi, movies & tv, or here.

I found questions explaining the mind body problem and references for the mind-body problem. I also found a question about how Star Trek addresses this problem on sci-fi...

But what TV series or film best engages the mind-body problem and would be a good example for a beginner trying to understand this problem? The above linked question has an accepted answer of:

Star Trek embraces whatever philosophy is required to tell the current story.

This doesn't really add value to whether Star Trek would be a good recommendation for a beginner to understand the mind body problem.

I ask here because some folks in this local conversation group may not be open to reading additional literature, and a film/tv suggestion as an example may be useful.

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    Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell is somewhat philosophical about it, Her, Hollywood cyborg movies, Edge of Tomorrow are some other possibilities. But don't count on movies actually exploring the problem, they are more of a material for reflection afterwards.
    – Conifold
    Aug 10, 2021 at 22:15
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    The series Altered Carbon comes to mind. Also the short novel Learning to Be Me by Greg Egan, not a movie but trully mind boggling
    – armand
    Aug 11, 2021 at 0:55
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    I forgot HBO's Westworld that actually digs deeper than most, there is even a book Westworld and Philosophy.
    – Conifold
    Aug 11, 2021 at 3:10
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    Total Recall is nice too. Schwarzy's character implants himself a new personality to better infiltrate the rebels, planning to restore his personality once the mission complete. But to his new self this is unacceptable. His original personality became the alien one.
    – armand
    Aug 11, 2021 at 6:39
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    Blade runner also has some immortality stuff i found interesting if i recall (been long time). Is basic concept that the morality of how to treat the bots is related to (arguably almost same question as) whether they have qualia and inner life. What’s interesting is when they debated the morality of how to treat us
    – Al Brown
    Aug 12, 2021 at 3:46

2 Answers 2

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I assume you were asking about popular movies where the theme is woven into the story itself, not looking for any kind of rigorous introduction or analysis.

Blade Runner hits the theme hard with the robots who find out their memories are implanted and they have only lived a few years. Whether they have experience and inner life is explicitly considered, as is the question of morality in their treatment. The scene of the robot describing her childhood experience with the spider (sorry its implanted memory of the experience 👍🏻)

Secondly, Shutter Island can definitely motivate the idea and entertain, though not introduce and define the idea. That’s what I would suggest. Watching that makes one wonder about what this life is and can drive such a wedge between our experience and the world as to open people up to considering what the distinction is.

Good luck and enjoy.

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DiCaprio arguably has a history of such:

His film about the subconscious, Inception, was entertaining and a bit thought provoking, especially for the non-philosopher. I don’t think it hits the hard problem though, perhaps a bit, esp if we consider the connection between Dreams and the Hard Problem of Consciousness, as in this paper so titled: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340676299_Dreams_and_the_Hard_Problem_of_Consciousness

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And then we have the (overly?) explicit effort to represent a psyche with multiple characters:

Revolver (2005). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolver_(2005_film)

Vice

Does 'Revolver' Actually Suck? Guy Ritchie's incoherent, possibly-about-Kabbalah gangster movie was panned by critics, but is it actually a misunderstood classic?

How did it get that bad reputation? I think because of what the Atlantic describes here. Nothing like ruining the stirrings of the imagination with explaination:

Atlantic

For viewers thick (or incredulous) enough not to get the message, Ritchie helpfully provides, as the credits roll, a series of brief psycho-spiritual testimonials in which luminaries such as Leonard Jacobson and Deepak Chopra explain

The moment I saw those clips my whole view of the film changed. If you do watch it, ask who the innermost character is. Even the film seems to be assuming his knowing and awareness of the others as given, but is it? And avoid Deepak part! 😉

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I would recommend Her(2013) by Spike Jonze.

It is a story of a man who falls in love with a mind without a body, an AI software.

The movie speculates on the possibility of a mind that is both artificial and completely without a physical body. Is that a real mind or just a simulation? How can it have any emotions or preferences or areas of interest if it cannot actually experience anything?

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