In Ezio Di Nucci & Stefan Storrie (eds.), 1984 and philosophy, is resistance futile? Open Court (2018)

Mark Alfano
Macquarie University
On the first page of 1984, Winston Smith is confronted with several posters featuring the face of Big Brother and the famous sentence, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.” This may not seem like a promising way to seduce someone, but the seduction of Winston Smith by Big Brother in 1984 is a most unusual love story. I call it a seduction because Winston’s mind and heart are slowly won over in the aptly-named Ministry of Love. Moreover, in the final scene of the novel, Winston gazes, with tears in his eyes, up at Big Brother on the telescreen. The last sentence of the book states, simply, “He loved Big Brother.” How does Big Brother seduce Winston Smith? He certainly does not employ stereotypical methods. Big Brother is not particularly sexy, and his incessant angry shouting does not seem calculated to foster adoration. On top of that, Winston never meets Big Brother in person. His only access is through media: posters, stories, and the telescreen. We all know that it’s hard to maintain a long-distance relationship. Long-distance seduction is even more challenging. So how does Big Brother manage it? To answer this question, I use the theory of seduction first articulated by the philosopher John Forrester (1990, p. 42), who argues that “the first step in a seductive maneuver could be summed up as, ‘I know what you’re thinking.’”
Keywords social epistemology  seduction  1984
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Kierkegaard, Seduction, and Existential Education.Herner Sæverot - 2011 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 30 (6):557-572.
Was George Orwell a Metaphysical Realist?Peter van Inwagen - 2008 - Philosophia Scientiae 12 (1):161-185.
In the Name of Seduction.Z. Kalnická - 2004 - Filozofia 59:491-501.
Manipulare, seductie si ideologie ostensiva/ Manipulation, Seduction and Ostensive Ideology.Aurel Codoban - 2003 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 2 (4):122-138.
Kierkegaard’s Quest: How Not to Stop Seducing.Finn Janning - 2015 - Philosophy of Management 14 (2):95-109.
Buddhism or Communism: Which Holds the Future of Asia?E. B., Ernst Benz, Richard Winston & Clara Winston - 1968 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 88 (2):373.


Added to PP index

Total views
150 ( #67,520 of 2,433,424 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
39 ( #20,091 of 2,433,424 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes