Perception in Black Mirror: Who Controls What You See?

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Book Chapter

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Black Mirror is full of technologies that manipulate people’s sensory perceptions. Philosophers of perception explain that our brains actively construct what we sense based on previous knowledge, expectations, and emotions, without us even being aware of this framing. Many Black Mirror episodes illustrate the mistakes that people can make when they misunderstand this framing process. Some episodes suggest that highly effective virtual reality technology could foil the strategies that Descartes recommended for distinguishing hallucinations and dreams from reality. Yet other episodes warn how powerful institutions can punitively wield the power of control over perception. Yet in rare optimistic moments, Black Mirror demonstrates the value of relying on the help of other people to hold firm to deeper truths in the face of forces that would manipulate us.


Book chapter in Black Mirror and Philosophy: Dark Reflections, edited by David Kyle Johnson.

ISBN 9781119578260