BLADE RUNNER 2049 (1): can a sequel have a soul?

I was looking forward to this film for a long time, with impatience and suspicion, eager to enter the Blade Runner universe and fearing that it would be ruined. To my delight, I found the sequel to be an engrossing story, visually impressive and thoughtfully told.

A quick search online revealed a repeatedly expressed view that the second film is even better than the first, just as the replicant is supposedly “better” than the original baseline human.

The question that resonates throughout both films, in different ways, is: can a fabricated sentient being have a soul, or is it merely a made object of heightened complexity, but as soulless as a zombie?

This is a question that comes up today with increasing force in discussions over genetic engineering. A designer baby or a clone may have no parents and may even be produced for a particular function (super soldier, organ farm). The “does AI have a soul?” question is both valid in itself, a useful metaphor for exploring the engineering approach to the reproduction and/or replication of human beings.

Can a copy be as good as, or even better than, the original? If not a copy, then a creative repetition? Can the successor species to humanity, or the sequel to a film, have a soul?

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