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Puccetti, Roland

Entry updated 31 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1924-1995) US philosopher and author, long professionally involved in mind-body problems. He published several essays on the split-brain controversy, perhaps most accessibly in "Sperry on Consciousness: A Critical Appreciation" for The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy in 1977. Both of his novels deal, in their way, with the question. In The Death of the Führer (1972) Hitler's brain is transplanted into the body of a voluptuous woman, and "his" identity discovered, in (as it were) flagrante delicto by the hero at a moment of passion. ("Only then did her lips part to give the fateful cry. / 'ICH BIN DER FÜHRER.'") The Trial of John and Henry Norton (1973) convincingly updates the Jekyll and Hyde theme, in that the two Nortons of the title inhabit a single body as the result of an operation to cut the link between the two lobes of the upper brain, the left and right lobes becoming in effect two different people. One of them proves to be a murderer, and they are tried "together". Puccetti's concern with identity problems was evident also in Persons: A Study of Possible Moral Agents in the Universe (1968), which argues an expansion of the concept of "person" beyond its usual human-centred limitations and provides serious cognitive backing for the more speculative attempts in sf to apprehend the potential nature of Aliens. [JC]

Roland Peter Puccetti

born Oak Park, Illinois: 11 August 1924

died Canada [in the US Consulate, so probably Ottawa]: 2 November 1995

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