Kim Stanley Robinson: Towards a Science of Morality

Rowcroft, Andrew (2018) Kim Stanley Robinson: Towards a Science of Morality. In: Sublime Cognition: Science Fiction & Metaphysics, 13-14th of September, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Kim Stanley Robinson has a reputation as one of America’s leading contemporary science-fiction writers. This reputation is founded on his display of scientific expertise, accuracy, and objectivity; in short, his production of ‘hard’ sci-fi narratives. Despite this, Robinson’s fiction grants significant space to the nature of human consciousness and the possibility of ‘spiritual’ existence, often juxtaposing empirical facts with mysticism, religion, and the experience of ‘self-transcendence’.

This paper will examine the close critical relations between Robinson’s presentation of science and the sublime in his award-winning Mars Trilogy (1992-1996). Specifically, the paper argues that Mars features a unique approach to the problem of this conference (the notion of a ‘Sublime Cognition’). Robinson’s trilogy features a specific kind of problem-solving that is distinct from other traditions of moral philosophy and science-fiction writing. To paraphrase Fredric Jameson, in approaching a specific problem, Robinson begins by enumerating its elements, its ironies, contradictions, and its complexities; confronting other theories and exploring their antimonies, before turning the problem into a solution which then becomes a starting point for new research. In blending facts and values, science and the sublime, Robinson affirms a science of morality that this paper will argue is essential for human-flourishing and well-being in the twenty-first century.

Keywords:Science-fiction, Morality, Marxism and literature
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T720 American Literature studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:33201
Deposited On:20 Oct 2018 19:43

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