Topics in Philosophy

Boris Buden
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2023W, scientific seminar (SEW), 4.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04491


How have we started to resemble robots?

Robots have long ago occupied our dreamworlds and, meanwhile, penetrated our social reality to the point that, as Rodney Brook proclaimed to decades ago, the distinction between us and them is going to disappear. Yet we still think that they are made in the image and likeness of humans. But what if we are wrong? What if this is just another narcissistic delusion in which the entire nonhuman world models itself on our human grandeur? In fact, everything suggests that the relation between humans and robots have evolved into one of mutual interference, or, moreover, into a relation of mutual imitation? Today, human beings increasingly resemble the intelligent machines. As a result of this ceaseless feedback loop we see the emergence of a new generation of cyborgs with peculiar human-machine interfaces. Lydia H. Liu invented the name for this new species – “Freudian robots.” Let us read and discuss her book on this new species of Freudian robots and try to reflect upon its long genealogy. To do so we will have to remember Sigmund Freud’s own fascination with automata and read his famous essay from 1919 ”The Uncanny” (Das Unheimliche).

Lydia H. Liu, The Freudian Robot. Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Sigmund Freud, ”The Uncanny”, translation David McLintock, Penguin Modern Classics.

Examination Modalities

Consists in the active participation and contribution (discursive, textual and performative).

The module grading is based on the mentioned contribution, active in-class participation and

  • - submission of written assignments (word minimum of 500 total)


 “Students from other departments or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.

Key Words

intelligent machines, robots uncanny, Sigmund Freud, imitation translation


16 October 2023, 10:00–16:00 CDS Studio
17 October 2023, 10:00–16:00 KUG Lecture Room PSK 149
18 October 2023, 10:00–16:00 KUG Lecture Room PSK 149
19 October 2023, 10:00–14:30 KUG Lecture Room PSK 149

Course Enrolment

Via online registration

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Philosophy: Deepening / Application 700/003.20

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas 4-6: Study Area 4: Philosophy 569/022.04

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible