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The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195092585
ISBN-10: 0195092589
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Editorial Reviews


"Heim has a facility for grasping salient points from what is a vast and bewildering tidal wave of facts and issues, and presenting them clearly and succinctly....At his best, he successfully and vividly conveys his own excitement and enthusiasm....This book is an accomplished and informative primer."--Radical Philosophy

"This new book tells skeptics why they should appreciate virtual reality...and tells VR zealots why to cool their jets. Metaphysics is written by Michael Heim, an East-meets-West philosophy teacher. His first goggles-and-glove encounter sent his philosophical seismograph into seizure. The result is this essay collection, bibliography, and glossary that views computing from an ontological perspective....Like Heidegger and Mcluhan, Heim reflects on the radical shifts brought about by an unprecedented development," he ponders the erotic allure of cyberspace and the philosophical problems puzzling VR designers and users.....A warm-hearted, cool-headed meditation on computer technology."--Wired

"This engagingly written work attempts to deal with the pressing question of the effects of technology--in particular of computers and computerization--on our lives, our thoughts, our emotions, and even our view of reality....Ideas come from all over the place--from Greek and Eastern philosophy, science fiction, Leibniz, Heidegger, contemporary philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer techno-speak, etc.--and they all come at the reader in a mile-a-minute stream. This is Marshall McLuhan with a solid grounding in philosophy."--Library Journal

"Heim is clearing a path through exciting realms of thought."--AI Expert

"An excellent book. . . . particularly good on philosophical issues."--Peter A. Andersen, San Diego State University MUST GET HIS PERMISSION BEFORE USING QUOTE!!

About the Author

Michael Heim is a freelance philosophy teacher living in Redondo, California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 27, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195092589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195092585
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Heim teaches at graduate schools in Southern California. He is a Fulbright Scholar (Freiburg and Berlin) whose first book translated Martin Heidegger's Metaphysical Foundations of Logic. He has lectured at the Netherlands Institute for Design, SIGGRAPH, the Power Plant Gallery, UNESCO in Rio de Janeiro, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Institute for Intercultural Studies in Kyoto, Japan. He has consulted at many institutions, including Alfred University, the Multimedia Program of the Danish Humanities Research Council, and six national Virtual Reality conferences in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Data Processing Management Association. See

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Michael Heim's Metaphysics of Virtual Reality is an investigation of the philosophical underpinnings of digital and virtual technologies. Chapters one through five contain and engaging analysis of information processing technologies and their profound impact on human thought. Heim's simple thesis that digital technologies change the way we think by altering the environment in which we think supports far-reaching claims about the unmittigated impact of the information revolution. Chapters six through ten treat of cyberspaces and virtual realities as products of a cultural imagination in search of ultimate fulfillment. Included is a helpful glossary of technical terms belonging to the somewhat disparate domains of technology and philosophy. Heim has written a fun book inspite of the ponderous subject matter thanks to his crisp prose. He judiciously balances weighty concepts with lively commentary drawn from popular literature, science fiction and film. As is to be expected, when an author incorporates many diverse elements in a concise text, some depth of analysis is sacraficed. However, Heim adequately compensates with thought provoking, if enigmatic predictions for the future of technology that invite the reader to speculate on the nature and ultimate worth of emergent technologies.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No one disputes that the growing sophistication of computing technology has altered the human condition. With the current world population in excess of five billion and the U.S. economy in excess of six trillion dollars annually, computers are essential to the management of life. However, few people ever think about how much this has altered the perception of existence. Philosopher Michael Heim is one such person.
The imminent, but distant development of Artificial Intelligence has forced a thorough rethinking of what human intelligence really is. The Turing test, where a computer interacts with a human via teletype and passes the test if the human thinks that the object on the other end is also human, has been proven inadequate. Other abilities, such as being able to perform extensive arithmetic computations, is also not an indicator of intelligence. As amazing as it may seem to the child struggling to learn their 'rithmetic, the algorithms are just not that complicated. The only conclusive result to date is that intelligent behavior is ill-defined. The best that can be agreed upon is a statement similar to that uttered by a justice of the United State Supreme Court. When asked to define pornography, his response was, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."
Robotics, computer viruses and the nebulous discipline of Artificial Life are forcing a re-examination of what life is. Capable of reproducing, but only with the assistance of other objects, computer viruses are remarkably similar to their biological counterparts. Arguing that they are fundamentally different because they are nothing more than a series of instructions misses the point.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kent Gladstone on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you search through the internet on the definition of VR, you'll hit on just about anything having to do with computers. Why? Heim attempts to answer this question with a wonderful explanation of what the term has meant, means now, and may mean in both the near and far future. He reviews the impact products have had on our daily lives, which we take for granted today, and studies what past philosophers feared--have these fears become a reality? The book defines our relationship to computers now, and what our expectations are. It's a fun little book to read. It'll make you stop and think about our real world when your done.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bahram Hooshyar Yousefi on December 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
For persian visitors, there is a persian review that has been published in Mehr weekly too, in my blog : [...]
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