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Do Zombies Experience Consciousness?

7 February 2013

From Popular Mechanics:

In most pop-zombie lore, zombies have been infected with a contagion that turns them into mindless, soulless monsters on the hunt for human flesh. Even if a reanimated corpse used to be your mother/father/brother/girlfriend/BFF, now it’s a zombie, and it has to die. End of story.

But the latest film in the zombie lexicon, Warm Bodies, turns that convention on its head. An over-thinking zombie falls in love. He thinks and feels.

Which raises an interesting philosophical question: Are zombies hopeless automatons who should be killed without hesitation? Or do zombies experience consciousness?

. . . .

They’re just sick people, argues Steven Schlozman, author of The Zombie Autopsie sand an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “We would never say that somebody that is sick with another kind of disease isn’t conscious.”

In Schlozman’s view, zombies are much like a crocodile. They may not be conscious in the same way humans are, but they are aware of their surroundings and respond to their environment.

Link to the rest at Popular Mechanics



Fantasy/SciFi, Video

13 Comments to “Do Zombies Experience Consciousness?”

  1. So, we have had sparkley vampires, are now onto love-able zombies, next we will be told the kracken is misunderstood.

    Zombies eat your braaaains!

  2. I read this article yesterday and hated every word.

    My “they’re dead, remorseless, unthinking eating machines” bias aside, I think “Warm Bodies” looks pretty entertaining.

  3. Warm bodies was super fun.

  4. Though I haven’t read it, I believe this is also the premise of Hugh Howey’s I, ZOMBIE. The human consciousness rides along with the zombie body as it goes about its horrific business and the humans try to cope with this new state of existence.

  5. They’re not unreasonable. I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes.


  6. This is an utterly idiotic question.

    Zombies are fictional beings.

    Their characteristics are dependent upon the creator of the fiction they are part of.

    And stories with zombies with partial or total consciousness predate “Warm Bodies.” The Return/Children of the Living Dead movies are the earliest examples I can think of off the top of my head.

  7. Diana Rowland’s WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE series has another take on the “zombies are conscious” idea. I’ve only read the first one so far but it was pretty entertaining. I preferred it to her DEMON series, to be honest.

  8. Sure looks like fun to me. Who doesn’t love a story line that turns a bad boy into a good one, all for the sake of love? Gets me every time. 🙂

  9. What I think is the real twist about Warm Bodies is the fact that rather than using Zombies as a metaphor for mindless consumerism (like most other zombie fiction), this film and the book it is based on use Zombies as a metaphor for adolescence. The director was discussing this idea on NPR last night. I can’t wait to see it to see how successful this idea is.

  10. I think the answer to this burning and important question about creatures that don’t exist is quite obvious:

    Zombies do not have brains. That’s why they want to eat ours.

    No brains = no consciousness.

    I can only hope the unrefutable logic in my comment goes viral so we can all move onto the equally compelling question of whether vampires need to go potty.

    • I think zombies want to eat our brains because brains are soft and mushy, yet crunchy on the outside. Zombies, in most stories, have brains. They just don’t use much of them. I find it odd that some people get really funny when talking about zombies. As if they are too ridiculous to even discuss. And yet, they will talk about a man bringing a pair of every animal in the world onto a boat. It’s all fun fiction. Let’s be little more tolerant =)

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