The Ontology of Transformers


There’s no denying that this is a pretty amusing poster. Still, it reminds me that I think the film engaged in a bit of revisionism when it portrayed the Autobots as humanoid-shaped robots capable of change into cars and trucks and so forth. My understanding from my childhood is that we should think of them as car-shaped robots capable of changing into humanoid-shaped ones. After all, they’re called autobots, like automobiles. Their essential property is their car-ishness.

On the other hand, they’re also called transformers which indicates that it’s the transforming itself that the essential fact. They’re neither humanoid nor car-shaped, but transformative. Or something.