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