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Brave new world the advancement of science

Brave New World: The Advancement of Science

Christy Campbell Mrs. Doig Eng OAC 2 16 May, 1996

When thinking of progress, most people think of advances in the

scientific fields, believing that most discoveries and technologies are

beneficial to society. Are these advances as beneficial as most people think?

In the novel Brave New World, the author Aldous Huxley, warns readers that

scientific advances can be a threat to society. This is particularly evident in

the fields of biology, technology and psychology. According to Huxley, "The

theme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is the

advancement of science as it affects human individuals"(Huxley CLC 79 290).

One scientific advance of which Huxley warns readers of is that in

biology. In the setting of Brave New World, henceforth referred to as the

reservation, the mass production of humans is accomplished with the Bokanovsky

process. In this process, human beings are genetically engineered in

laboratories. "... a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide.

From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed

embryo, 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 exist

on the reservation. Instead, humans are raised in conditioning centres. R.T.

Oerton points out that "Present knowledge indicates, for instance, that a child

cannot be deprived of parents or parent figures, as were the children in Brave

New World, without suffering lasting pathological damage to his

personality."(Oerton CLC 7 308). Another threat that the Bokanovsky process

poses to society is that life is not highly valued. "Murder kills only the

individual and, after all what is an individual? With a sweeping gesture he [Mr.

Foster, director of hatcheries and conditioning] indicated the rows of

microscopes, the test-tubes, the incubators. We can make a new one with the

greatest ease-as many as we like"(Huxley Brave New World 133). Human life holds

no value because it can be easily replaced through the Bokanovsky process.

Furthermore, Bokanovsky's method of mass production prevents individuality, as

on 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 and

physically equivalent. Biological technology helps to achieve this equality by

genetically shaping the minds of society. In Brave New World , one's

intelligence depends on the amount of alcohol injected into their embryo. For

example, one of the lower classes in society, Epsilons, have quite a high amount

of alcohol injected in the decanting process. Mental faculty, therefore, is

predestined from the moment of cloning. By creating a world where humans are

mass produced, Brave New World demonstrates that advances in biology can be

dangerous 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 need

for creativity and imagination. Huxley warns us against mechanization, arguing

"the machine dehumanizes men by demanding mechanical efficiency of

them"(Hillegas 114). Man's creativity is replaced with mundane tasks, because

machines are able to do much of the work . The occupations available for people

on the reservation, consist of repetitive mechanical operations. In Brave New

World, leisure activities are dominated by technology. The primary source of

entertainment is the "feelies," a type of movie theatre in which all the senses

are artificially created. Instead of feeling the emotions portrayed on screen,

the audience absorbs stimulated sensations. These stimulations prevent them

from free thought, which threatens society by denying people from experiencing

their own creativity and imagination. Furthermore, technology affects

entertainment by being incorporated into all games of play. Games consist of

advanced technological apparatus, and low organization, creating very

superficial entertainment. According to Huxley, this frustrates one of

humanity's vital needs to be creative. "Men no longer amuse themselves

creatively but sit passively amused by mechanical devices"(Hillegas 115). Among

technological advances, one danger Huxley warns of is the advance in

pharmacology. In Brave New World, an artificial form of happiness is present in

a drug called soma. Soma propels the user into a hallucinatory dream world,

providing relief from negativity, allowing constant happiness People are

rewarded for work by receiving rations of soma. The soma ration varies

according to the social classes, with the lowest classes receiving the least,

and the highest classes receiving the greatest. Society is conditioned to

believe that "One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments"(Huxley Brave New

World 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 society

because people may be drugged into a hallucinatory dream world twenty-four hours

a day. It could be used as a drug not to escape the pressures of life, but to

escape life itself. Similar to biology, technology can be a danger to society

if 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 of

psychology is utilized to program ideas into individual's minds by a method

called hypnopaedia. Hypnopaedia consists of repetitious messages that play over

a loudspeaker during sleep. These repetitions are composed of socially accepted

morals and values. "All conditioning aims at making people like their

unescapable social destiny."(Huxley Brave New World 13). This limits

individuals 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 World

cuts men off from deep experience, keeps them from being human."(Hillegas 118).

Direct stimulation is used as another conditioning technique. On the

reservation, society is conditioned against love, nature, literature, and other

forms of expression that are naturally desired by man. To condition babies

against nature and literature, they are mildly shocked while encountering books

and flowers placed before them. Therefore, this direct stimulation causes them

to have an instinctive hatred of flowers and books. According to reservation

controllers, "A love of nature keeps no factories busy"(Huxley Brave New World

19). Morals and values, which normally through the growing up process can be

discovered on their own, are brainwashed into society's minds. This direct

stimulation is harmful to society as it prevents people from deciding upon

their own morals and values. Another form of conditioning in Brave New World

deals with death. From the early age of eighteen months, children are exposed

to death while playing with toys and eating candy. Thus resulting in an eternal

association between happiness and death. Death conditioning can be dangerous to

society as children become unable to distinguish between good and evil. In

addition, sexual conditioning is present in Brave New World. From a very young

age, sexual play is normal and encouraged in everyone. Together, hundreds of

children play sexual games in the nude. Also, more than one sexual partner is

encouraged, resulting in the absence of committed relationships. This absence

of committed relationship creates a world without deep feelings of human

affection. Society is conditioned to believe "Everyone belongs to everyone

else"(Huxley Brave New World 35). Unfortunately, these psychological

advancements cause the reservation to be a world without individual thought.

Each person is conditioned into a life, which is believed to be most

advantageous for them. Thomas D. Clareson points out that "The Brave New World

is mindless... it's citizens are 'nice tame animals'..."(Huxley, DISC). The

conditioning methods in Brave New World take away all freedom of choice and

decision 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 must

ensure that science is changing to suit human needs, rather than changing the

human race to suit science. With the increasing progress in biology, technology

and psychology, this may be an impossible feat to overcome. The world may one

day be without individuality, emotions or free thought. In Brave New World, the

scientific 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 in

it."(Wright 87).

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