Brave New World: The Advancement of ScienceChristy Campbell Mrs. Doig Eng OAC 2 16 May, 1996When thinking of progress, most people think of advances in thescientific fields, believing that most discoveries and technologies arebeneficial to society. Are these advances as beneficial as most people think?In the novel Brave New World, the author Aldous Huxley, warns readers thatscientific advances can be a threat to society. This is particularly evident inthe fields of biology, technology and psychology. According to Huxley, “Thetheme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is theadvancement of science as it affects human individuals”(Huxley CLC 79 290).
One scientific advance of which Huxley warns readers of is that inbiology. In the setting of Brave New World, henceforth referred to as thereservation, the mass production of humans is accomplished with the Bokanovskyprocess. In this process, human beings are genetically engineered inlaboratories. “… a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide.
From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formedembryo, and every embryo into a full sized adult”(Huxley Brave New World 4).
One of the threats of this genetic breeding is that no family structures existon the reservation. Instead, humans are raised in conditioning centres. R.T.
Oerton points out that “Present knowledge indicates, for instance, that a childcannot be deprived of parents or parent figures, as were the children in BraveNew World, without suffering lasting pathological damage to hispersonality.”(Oerton CLC 7 308). Another threat that the Bokanovsky processposes to society is that life is not highly valued. “Murder kills only theindividual and, after all what is an individual? With a sweeping gesture he Mr.
Foster, director of hatcheries and conditioning indicated the rows ofmicroscopes, the test-tubes, the incubators. We can make a new one with thegreatest ease-as many as we like”(Huxley Brave New World 133). Human life holdsno value because it can be easily replaced through the Bokanovsky process.
Furthermore, Bokanovsky’s method of mass production prevents individuality, ason the reservation, all people are cloned. Starting from the time of decanting,each embryo is genetically cloned to fall into one of the various social classes.
Within each social class, all members are cloned to be intellectually andphysically equivalent. Biological technology helps to achieve this equality bygenetically shaping the minds of society. In Brave New World , one’sintelligence depends on the amount of alcohol injected into their embryo. Forexample, one of the lower classes in society, Epsilons, have quite a high amountof alcohol injected in the decanting process. Mental faculty, therefore, ispredestined from the moment of cloning. By creating a world where humans aremass produced, Brave New World demonstrates that advances in biology can bedangerous if used without regard for the well being of the human race.
According to Huxley, advances in technology can also be a threat to society.
In Brave New World, everything is completely mechanized, eliminating the needfor creativity and imagination. Huxley warns us against mechanization, arguing”the machine dehumanizes men by demanding mechanical efficiency ofthem”(Hillegas 114). Man’s creativity is replaced with mundane tasks, becausemachines are able to do much of the work . The occupations available for peopleon the reservation, consist of repetitive mechanical operations. In Brave NewWorld, leisure activities are dominated by technology. The primary source ofentertainment is the “feelies,” a type of movie theatre in which all the sensesare artificially created. Instead of feeling the emotions portrayed on screen,the audience absorbs stimulated sensations. These stimulations prevent themfrom free thought, which threatens society by denying people from experiencingtheir own creativity and imagination. Furthermore, technology affectsentertainment by being incorporated into all games of play. Games consist ofadvanced technological apparatus, and low organization, creating verysuperficial entertainment. According to Huxley, this frustrates one ofhumanity’s vital needs to be creative. “Men no longer amuse themselvescreatively but sit passively amused by mechanical devices”(Hillegas 115). Amongtechnological advances, one danger Huxley warns of is the advance inpharmacology. In Brave New World, an artificial form of happiness is present ina drug called soma. Soma propels the user into a hallucinatory dream world,providing relief from negativity, allowing constant happiness People arerewarded for work by receiving rations of soma. The soma ration variesaccording to the social classes, with the lowest classes receiving the least,and the highest classes receiving the greatest. Society is conditioned tobelieve that “One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments”(Huxley Brave NewWorld 53). This reasoning deceives the user into believing that soma is a cure-all remedy. Since soma has no side effects, it can be a threat to societybecause people may be drugged into a hallucinatory dream world twenty-four hoursa day. It could be used as a drug not to escape the pressures of life, but toescape life itself. Similar to biology, technology can be a danger to societyif used without regard for the welfare of mankind.
Finally, the most dangerous of all scientific advancements Huxley warns of,is the progress in psychology. In Brave New World, every person is conditioned.
The first conditioning technique used is subliminal training. This type ofpsychology is utilized to program ideas into individual’s minds by a methodcalled hypnopaedia. Hypnopaedia consists of repetitious messages that play overa loudspeaker during sleep. These repetitions are composed of socially acceptedmorals and values. “All conditioning aims at making people like theirunescapable social destiny.”(Huxley Brave New World 13). This limitsindividuals from exploring life and developing their idea of happiness when”happiness” is already predetermined in their minds. According to Huxley, his”…chief strategy was to show that the conditioned happiness of Brave New Worldcuts men off from deep experience, keeps them from being human.”(Hillegas 118).
Direct stimulation is used as another conditioning technique. On thereservation, society is conditioned against love, nature, literature, and otherforms of expression that are naturally desired by man. To condition babiesagainst nature and literature, they are mildly shocked while encountering booksand flowers placed before them. Therefore, this direct stimulation causes themto have an instinctive hatred of flowers and books. According to reservationcontrollers, “A love of nature keeps no factories busy”(Huxley Brave New World19). Morals and values, which normally through the growing up process can bediscovered on their own, are brainwashed into society’s minds. This directstimulation is harmful to society as it prevents people from deciding upontheir own morals and values. Another form of conditioning in Brave New Worlddeals with death. From the early age of eighteen months, children are exposedto death while playing with toys and eating candy. Thus resulting in an eternalassociation between happiness and death. Death conditioning can be dangerous tosociety as children become unable to distinguish between good and evil. Inaddition, sexual conditioning is present in Brave New World. From a very youngage, sexual play is normal and encouraged in everyone. Together, hundreds ofchildren play sexual games in the nude. Also, more than one sexual partner isencouraged, resulting in the absence of committed relationships. This absenceof committed relationship creates a world without deep feelings of humanaffection. Society is conditioned to believe “Everyone belongs to everyoneelse”(Huxley Brave New World 35). Unfortunately, these psychologicaladvancements cause the reservation to be a world without individual thought.
Each person is conditioned into a life, which is believed to be mostadvantageous for them. Thomas D. Clareson points out that “The Brave New Worldis mindless… it’s citizens are ‘nice tame animals’…”(Huxley, DISC). Theconditioning methods in Brave New World take away all freedom of choice anddecision in society.
The society depicted in Brave New World is to many, a frightening one.
Though, it may be more of a reality than is presently thought. Society mustensure that science is changing to suit human needs, rather than changing thehuman race to suit science. With the increasing progress in biology, technologyand psychology, this may be an impossible feat to overcome. The world may oneday be without individuality, emotions or free thought. In Brave New World, thescientific advances show to be a threat to society, where “One could of course,exist. . .” though, “… One could not-in the fullest sense of the word-live init.”(Wright 87).
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