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Get Real

A Philosophical Adventure in Virtual Reality

Philip Zhai

Is virtual reality merely a video game that consumes and distracts the player immersed in its simulations? Or is it an immaterial world, rich in meaning, beckoning people to a better future world inside computers? In Get Real: A Philosophical Adventure in Virtual Reality, Philip Zhai tackles these questions with keen logical analysis and concludes by advocating a stance that transcends these two opposing view of virtual reality. Zhai argues that the combination of three technologies—digital simulation, sensory immersion, and functional teleoperation—in a well-coordinated manner amounts to a re-creation of the whole empirically perceived universe. His analysis of the nature and significance of this re-creation is eye-opening and completely original. This book will be invaluable to philosophers of science, philosophers of mind and anyone interested in technology's growing impact on our lives and minds. The thought experiments in the book are mind-stretching and enlightenling, and make abstract concepts interesting and tangible. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 256Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-8476-8983-5 • Hardback • May 1998 • $26.95 • (£17.95)
Philip Zhai has degrees in both philosophy (Ph.D) and engineering (B.S.), and is a professor of philosophy at Muhlenberg College. He is the author of The Radical Choice and Moral Theory (Kluwer).
Part 1 Part I: How to Go "Behind" Physical Space
Chapter 2 Playing the Game: Get Wired to Go Weird
Chapter 3 What If Now
Chapter 4 Cross-Communication Situations
Chapter 5 Interpersonal-Telepresence: I Am HERE!
Chapter 6 The Community of Interpersonal-Telepresence
Chapter 7 the Principle of Reciprocity
Part 8 Part II: The Casual and the Digital Under the Virtual
Chapter 9 The Four Sources of Virtual Reality Input
Chapter 10 Manipulation of the Physical Process from Cyberspace
Chapter 11 Cybersex and Reproduction
Chapter 12 The Expansion beyond Necessity
Chapter 13 Interaction among Participants
Chapter 14 The Final Decision That Is Irreversible
Part 15 Part III: The Parallelism Between the Virtual and the Actual
Chapter 16 Deconstructing Rules for the "Real" and the "Illusory"
Chapter 17 Communicative Rationality as the Final Rule
Chapter 18 How Phenomenological Descriptions Are the Same Throughout
Chapter 19 Fundamental Philosophical Questions Remain
Part 20 Part IV: All are Optional Expect the Mind
Chapter 21 John Searle's False Notion of Body Image in the Brain
Chapter 22 The Fallacy of Unity Projection
Chapter 23 The One-ness of Consciousness, Brain, and Quantum Mechanics
Chapter 24 A Conjecture: The Square Root of -1 as the Psy-Factor
Part 25 Part V: The Meaning of Life and Virtual Reality
Chapter 26 Recapitulation and Anticipation
Chapter 27 Meaning as Different from Happiness: Brave New World?
Chapter 28 Meaning and the Creator
Chapter 29 Significant Difference versus Real Difference
Chapter 30 Three Modes of Subjectivity and Intentionality
Chapter 31 Meaning, Ideality, and Humanitude
Chapter 32 Virtual Rreality: The Way Home
Part 33 Part VI: VR and the Destiny of Humankind
Chapter 34 the Fragility of Technological Civilization
Chapter 35 The Question of Death
Chapter 36 Transcendence of Personhood and Immortality
Chapter 37 What Could Happen Soon
Chapter 38 Virtual Reality and the Ontological Re-Creation
Chapter 39 Appendix: Jaron Lanier's Virtual reality Debut Interview
Chapter 40 Notes
Chapter 41 Glossary
Chapter 42 Bibliography
Chapter 43 Index
The book is a philosophical joyride supported by solid scholarship . . .The author combines analysis with insight into things that matter . . . First-rate . . . written with clarity, verve, and insight.
Michael Hein, author of The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality

Get Real has the potential to become a landmark in both philosophy and virtual reality. The clearly written text progresses systematically through one hard issue after another. Whether or not one agrees with all of the conclusions, this is a book to be studied and then restudied.
Vr In The Schools

. . . fascinating. The various levels are particularly intriguing as one thinks about the various ways one could incorporate them in an experience, and the whole question of 'real.'
David W. Ellis, president and director of Science Museum (Boston)

. . . thought provoking and original.
Electronics Now

Get Realis a philosophical tour de force, an astonishing and articulate work that is as challenging as it is engaging.
Midwest Book Review

Based on research and logical analysis, the author offers a reasoned investigation into the way new technology is changing the very notion of reality and makes an original, provocative defense of the concept of virtual reality.
Baker and Taylor Forecast

...nearly every page is brimming with challenging philosophical ideas. ...Zhai has many creative and important insights.
Philosophy in Review

Lately, this reviewer has become skeptical about books that take a philosophical view of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Get Real is a refreshing change, from an author with credentials in both philosophy and engineering. In six very concise and well-written chapters he performs a philosophical exploration of the world of virtual reality. . . . Zhai has developed a book that is sure to be well received in both the philosophical and computing communities.

Get Real takes a smart, lucid, joyful look at invented realities that just may be more real than any of us dares to believe. Get Real takes a smart, lucid, joyful look at invented realities that just may be more real than any of us dares to believe.
Trix-Mix Magazine

The book appeals to both the intellect and the imagination and is a worthwhile one.
Independent Publisher