Thesis (MA)

Aristotelian philosophy applied to interactive virtual media: on the effects of transportation on the player and the practical applications of virtual realities


Virtual reality is a new technology that blurs the line between what a person feels is real and knows is fake; putting the audience ‘inside’ a piece of art, a new ‘world’ that we can experience (like real life) in a first-person perspective. This technology has come about through the development of interactive virtual media, the product of ‘the evolution of poetry’ that Aristotle discovered and explained. Poetry is something that can hold and transfer meaning, specifically it is anything that can offer or represent the ‘what it is likeness’ of a particular concept or truth, this is what I refer to when I use the term ‘Poetry’. The concept of blurring the line between reality and fiction, gives rise to ‘the paradox of fiction’ and has been a component of art from its conception. We lose ourselves in a myth, a book, a song or a play, and we have emotions about imitations of (fictional) events (even though they are fictional), this losing oneself into poetry is what I will term ‘Transportation’. Virtual realities achieve this and can make us feel like we are inside a piece of art, by fully taking control of our perspective (our experiences), by putting the control of the art’s direction in our hands, and importantly, by captivating our full attention. What effects could this have on us as moral agents or as social beings? Aristotle began art criticism in his Poetics, pioneering the philosophy of aesthetics and preparing philosophers for their own explorations of new mediums of art. I plan on continuing this work in an Aristotelian exploration of the use of interactive virtual media and the notion of transportation. Not only will I use the lessons learnt from Aristotle’s work in Poetics, but will also consider an Aristotelian Eudemian framework when looking at the moral concerns of such an advanced form of poetry and the inherent ramifications of the ‘habituation’ that comes with its repetitive use. Such media is often seen as an unproductive and even sometimes damaging pastime, I will argue that not only does all poetry teach us in many ways, but interactive virtual media has the potential to teach us the ‘what it is likeness’ of particular experiences. It allows us to practice and attain ‘know how’ types of knowledge, this will be crucial to my Aristotelian philosophical exploration, and the revelations about the possible dispositional attitudes that could be gained from said practice in virtual environments. I will back this up with a comprehensive explanation of recent revelations in cognitive science, proving evidence for the habituation mechanism and the importance of our implicit memory in our judgement making processes. I will conclude that interactive virtual media provides the perfect medium for transportation, which results in the accumulation of new implicit memories in the player (habituation), and said environments will be able to be utilised for a variety of applications, one possibly being the practice of virtuous activity (Eudemian ethics).

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Patterson, Joshua D. R.


Supervisors: De Cruz, Helen; Boulter, Stephen

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Department of History, Philosophy and Culture


Year: 2017

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