Philosophy of Technology (Postgraduate)

Spring 2021

From Descarte's The World

A free verse rendition of the most famous passage from the Zhuangzi. From Kuang-Ming Wu, The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the First Three Chapters of the Chuang-Tzu, State University of New York Press, Albany NY, 1990, p. 115.


Course CodesLocation Times
MCC-GE 2126 09516 Qi Xia Road, Room 901Thursdays, 1:30pm to 4:00pm


NameEmailOfficeConsultation Times
Anna Greenspanag158@nyu.edu1555 Century AvenueBy appointment.
Brad Weslakebrad.weslake@nyu.edu1555 Century Avenue, Room 961By appointment.


This course aims to train students to think philosophically about our rapidly changing—and ever more intimate—relationship with machines. The course is historically oriented, and typically focuses on some of the following subjects: artificial intelligence, robots, cyborgs, automation and science fiction speculation. This semester, we will focus on the theme of simulation. This section is for postgraduate students, enrolled in New York. For the undergraduate section, see here.


The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:

Attendance and participation: 15%
Weekly reading assignments: 15%
Media review: 10%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Final paper: 35%

Assessment dates:

Midterm Exam: Thursday 10 March
Final Paper Outline: Monday 21 April
Final Paper: Thursday 12 May

Assessment instructions:

Weekly reading assignments: PDF
Midterm Exam: PDF
Final paper:



Attendance and Lateness

Students are required to attend all classes on time. An explanation for every absence or late attendance must be submitted in writing to the instructors. Every failure to attend class on time will count against the component of the final grade awarded for attendance and participation, unless an explanation is received and approved at least one day prior to the class in question. Requests for exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis, and typically granted only when related to an illness or other unforeseeable change in circumstance. Students who have been excessively absent will be considered to have unofficially withdrawn and will be given a final grade of F.


It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin. Breaches of academic integrity could result in failure of an assignment, failure of the course, or other sanctions, as determined by the Academic Affairs office.

Late Assignments

Assignments are due at the dates and times indicated on this syllabus. The late penalty for the final paper is one component of a letter grade per day (an A becomes an A–, etc.) All other late assignments will receive an F.

Electronic Devices

You may not use mobile devices in class unless otherwise indicated.

Disability Disclosure Statement

NYU is committed to providing equal educational opportunity and participation for students with disabilities. It is NYU Shanghai’s policy that no student with a qualified disability be excluded from participating in any NYU Shanghai program or activity, denied the benefits of any NYU Shanghai program or activity, or otherwise subjected to discrimination with regard to any NYU Shanghai program or activity. Any student who needs a reasonable accommodation based on a qualified disability is required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) for assistance. Students can register online through the CSD and can contact the Director of the Academic Resource Center with questions or for assistance. For more information see here.

Title IX Statement

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs. It protects victims of sexual or gender-based bullying and harassment and survivors of gender-based violence. Protection from the discrimination on the basis of sex includes protection from being retaliated against for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment. NYU is committed to complying with Title IX and enforcing University policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. Mary Signor, Executive Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, serves as New York University’s Title IX Coordinator. The University’s Title IX Coordinator is a resource for any questions or concerns about sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence, or sexual misconduct and is available to discuss your rights and judicial options. University policies define prohibited conduct, provide informal and formal procedures for filing a complaint and a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.

Links to the Title IX Policy and related documents:

Course Materials


Meeting 1: The Western Tradition I: Plato (Thursday 28 January)

Meeting 2: The Western Tradition II: Descartes (Thursday 4 February)

Meeting 3 (Online Class): The Western Tradition III: Leibniz and Kant (Saturday 6 February, 3:30pm)

Spring Festival: 11–19 February

Meeting 4: Asian Perspectives I: Zhuangzi (Thursday 25 February)

Meeting 5: Asian Perspectives II: Vasubandhu (Thursday 4 March)

Meeting 6: Recurrence: Nietzsche and Deleuze (Thursday 11 March)

Meeting 7: Feminist Speculations: Irigaray and Plant (Thursday 18 March)

Meeting 8: The Imitation Game: Turing (Thursday 25 March)

Meeting 9: The Experience Machine: Nozick (Thursday 1 April)

Qingming: 5–7 April

No Class Thursday 8 April

Meeting 10: The Virtual and the Real: Chalmers (Thursday 15 April)

Meeting 11: Copy and Simulation I: Baudrillard (Thursday 22 April)

Meeting 12: Copy and Simulation II: Byung-Chul Han (Thursday 29 April)

Meeting 13: (Thursday 6 May)

Meeting 14: (Thursday 13 May)

Updated: 11 March 2021