Frankenstein’s Brain: “The Final Touch”


From the classic Frankenstein of 1931 to Matrix (1999), which offers a version of the philosophical fable of the brain in a vat (Chalmers) and on to Self/less (2015), in which the consciousness of a dying tycoon is transferred to a younger man’s body, cinema has variously explored the relationship between personhood and the body by means of fictions concerning the brain and its contents.1 From the crude disembodied brains of 1950s B-movies to the neuroimaging visuals of 21st-century cyberpunk, these films localize individuality essentially in the brain, and make personal identity transcend the body’s demise by transplanting the brain (or its contents) into other, typically younger or at least healthier bodies. Drawing credibility from both science and philosophy, they assume that, as Roland Puccetti nimbly put in 1969, “Where goes a brain, there goes a person” (70). Puccetti did not claim that we are our brains, but that since the brain operates as the physical basis of personhood, one cannot be separated from the other. For all intents and purposes, the brain is in such a perspective the somatic limit of the self.

Read Article On Muse