- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Dracula1' during my Thesis research, as from October 2022.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 10/10/2022 22:32:10): Dracula
- In October 2022, while tossing and turning with Covid in the dead of night, it occurred to me that the fictional Dracula might be a useful case study for various issues in the general area of Personal Identity. This Note is the end result.
- While Dracula4 is today a Fictional5 character, there is of course a historical antecedent in Vlad the Impaler6. I have no professional interest in the historical facts, however.
- My considerations include not only the inventions of Bram Stoker but also the later additions of Hammer Horror7, and others8.
- Thesis Text:
- Count Dracula is only a Fiction9, but the vicissitudes he is supposed to be able to survive may be worth some brief considerations to determine whether they are metaphysically possible – or even make logical sense.
- I have no great interest in what supposedly causes vampirism – whether it’s a virus or whatever, nor on how it’s passed on. Nor do I care about Dracula’s abilities to climb walls or fly through the air. Nor about his supposed aversion to garlic or crucifixes.
- However, the vampire is supposed to only maintain his Existence10 by drinking blood – preferably human, but animal blood – particularly of rats – will do at a pinch. I presume there’s some refection of ancient ideas that ‘the Life11 – or Soul12 – is in the blood’, which was not to be eaten.
- Dracula is described as ‘undead’. That is – he has died at some point – in fact at many points in later retellings in order to keep the sequels running – but is neither claimed to be alive nor dead. We might reflect on how such an idea squares with our normal ideas of what Life13 and Death14 are.
- The fictional claims that really interest me relate to Dracula’s Metamorphoses15. The first question is what he ‘really’ looks like. In the book, and film thereof, Dracula in has castle looks as you might expect someone over 400 years old to look. But when he appears in public, he looks young and handsome. Then – in the dénouement – when he is mortally wounded in the guise of his ancient self – he reverts to his youthful self in response to Mina’s kiss, after which he is ‘released’ by beheading. A question is – is he metamorphosing, or supposed to be influencing the vision of his beholders? As the latter would be needlessly complicated in busy London streets, I assume the former, especially as he is supposed to transform himself otherwise. Enough to say there’s nothing metaphysically problematical about such identity-preserving Metamorphosis16, as it’s presumably ‘just’ a rearrangement of Matter17, with some need for an energy source to effect the same. One needn’t worry about the details.
- The more interesting metamorphoses involve Dracula’s supposed Metamorphosis18 into a large dog-like animal on leaving the ship at Whitby, and into a mist, into bats, and rats.
- Transformation into a dog (and back) would be a trans-species Metamorphosis19. I’ve not much special to add here. If Dracula still falls under the Natural Kind20 concept Human Being21, and the natural kind is an essential property of the Individual22, then he would cease to exist as the dog, but – if Intermittent Existence23 is allowed – might subsequently ‘exist again’. The same might apply to the other transformations.
- It is supposed that Dracula transforms himself into many bats (or rats). Bats and rats are much of a muchness. The interesting common feature is the one-to-many ratio. If Dracula cannot survive – logically speaking – Metamorphosis24 into a dog, he certainly can’t survive transformation into a single rat or bat, let alone many of them. Each rat – we may suppose – is an independent sentient being. Can they collectively constitute another being? Would this ‘distributed’ being be an Individual25? Are we to suppose Dracula to be conscious in this state? It is true that Organisms26 are constituted by a multitude of cells, but these cells aren’t independent beings. More could be said – maybe along the lines of Societies27.
- Transformation into a mist is very odd. Presumably this is disassembly into microscopic constituent parts. Can an Organism28 - as distinct from a bicycle – survive29 such an adventure? Would he cease to exist in the interim or exist as a Scattered Object30?
- It’s not in the book, but – at least in Hammer Horror – human blood dropped onto his ashes allows Dracula to regenerate. This would seem to be an example of Resurrection31. At least there’s some physical Continuity32.
- As is apparent from the above, this Note relates to – and could be subordinated under – numerous others, including:-
→ Thought Experiments33
- For a page of Links38 to this Note, Click here. Unsurprisingly, I had nothing philosophical on this topic when I first considered it. Even a trawl of JSTOR revealed nothing to add to the empty lists below. There was lots on the history, politics, sociology and sexuality of Dracula, but nothing I could see that discussed the Metaphysics. There is a Cambridge Companion to Dracula which I have access to via Cambridge Core39 but this has nothing of interest to me.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read40, include the following:-
- A further reading list might start with:-
- For a list of Works that have been considered, but have missed the cut for inclusion in my Thesis, see the following lists of Works Read / Further items:-
- Further Reading:-
- This is mostly a place-holder41.
Footnote 4: Footnote 6: Footnote 7: Footnote 8: Footnote 29:
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (10/10/2022 22:32:10).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- "Olson (Eric) - Life After Death and the Devastation of the Grave" thinks not.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2022