Philosophy @ Western Sydney - Seminar

Patrick Stokes (Deakin)-"How Do We Live With the Digital Dead?"

In The Work of Mourning, Jacques Derrida claims that mourning cannot be 
directed to the dead, who no longer exist, but only towards our 
'interiorization' of them: "the [deceased] friend can no longer be but in us". 
Such a view coheres with the widespread intuition that practices such as 
commemorating the dead, honouring deathbed promises etc. relate to the memory 
of the dead rather than to the dead person themselves. Yet with the rise of the 
phenomenon of posthumous online persistence - the way in which deceased 
internet users leave remarkably rich digital traces such as Facebook profiles - 
the dead increasingly persist in an exterior, visible, public form. We are, as 
Adam Buben has recently put it, "getting better at leaving our survivors with 
less to miss," and as I've argued previously, this makes it easier for the dead 
to persist as social entities and moral patients in our lifeworld. Proposed 
technologies, such as animated avatars of the dead, push the phenomenal depth 
of this persistence even further. This leads to a concern that the ontological 
ambiguity of the dead - their status as both still part of our moral lifeworld 
and yet radically absent - may simply collapse; the dead, instead of being 
mourned, might simply be replaced with simulacra. This raises an important 
question: can we continue to live with the digital dead without forgetting that 
they are dead? What features of our relationship to the dead would make this 

Patrick Stokes is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University, 
Melbourne. He has previously held research fellowships in the UK, Denmark, and 
the US. He works on issues of personal identity, temporality, death, and moral 
psychology. He is the author of The Naked Self (Oxford, 2015) and Kierkegaard's 
Mirrors (Palgrave, 2010), and co-editor with John Lippitt of Narrative, 
Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh, 2015) and with Adam Buben of 
Kierkegaard and Death (Indiana, 2011). He is a frequent contributor to New 
Philosopher, The Conversation, and a media commentator on philosophical matters.

Date/Time: Wednesday 16 August 2017, 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm
Place: University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Room 3.G.54 
[How to get to Bankstown 

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