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Brave New World have ya read it?

  1. Dec 25, 2008 #1
    I wouldn't mind moving to a society like the one in Brave New World. In that society, everyone can be happy, there is stability, and there are no worries. In fact, everything around them is sustainable. Sustainability + happiness sounds like utopia to me.

    Why, then, are most people I talk to afraid of the scenario? They say there is no freedom. Well, of course they have less freedom than us but why should they care? They live and die happy, which is all I could ask for.

    Also, why does there have to be a distinction between 'real' and 'illusory' happiness? In the eyes of the subject who experiences it, it's happiness.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2008 #2

    Ever heard of natural selection? Or how things have to struggle to survive in order to survive?
  4. Dec 25, 2008 #3
    Just because everyone is happy in the book doesn't mean everyone would actually be happy. Noone's ever going to be happy all the time... the very idea of this is completely idiotic.

    Everything is relative.

    You spend ten years making ten dollars a week, and become used to it... then suddenly you make twenty dollars a week and you're happy for a short period of time. Until you get used to THAT... and decide that things would be better if you made forty.

    Happiness ceases to exist without sadness. If there is no warmth, there can be no cold. Without the "large" there would be no "small".
  5. Dec 25, 2008 #4
    I suppose if you think that "being happy" is worth giving up your individuality, then go for it. Is happiness just being content in the fact that you've been brainwashed by everyone else to accept your current circumstances as the best you can strive for?

    I guess, in a way, it is. I prefer the truth over "happiness" any day. The world is a harsh unforgiving place... and I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

    Edit: Lol, oh. Nice Obama picture in your profile. This explains EVERYTHING.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2008
  6. Dec 25, 2008 #5
    Is a society where you throw everyone out that doesn't go along with it really a happy society? Or is it an illusionary happiness reinforced by the fact that if anyone dares to go against it they are thrown out? All the real world states that have come close to that "Brave New World" idealism in their philosophy (the late Soviet Union for one) where people have their individual freedoms taken away, are not places I would like to live in. I remember a trip I did to East Germany 5 years or so ago...it was an eerie feeling comparing the looks on the people living there to the people living in the "corrupt west". In fact, eerie feeling doesn't quite describe it, it was just downright depressing.
  7. Dec 25, 2008 #6
    Renge is absolutely correct. A world in which you have no worries is a world in which you have no say in your own life. It's like longing to be back in high school living with your parents and having your decisions made for you. No bills, no problems... just complete dependence.

    Remember how much it sucked that you had to be home by 10:00 PM? (You were safe that way. You'd be home snug in your bed, the outside world couldn't touch you.) Apply that to every facet of your life and that's what you get with your Brave New World.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2008
  8. Dec 25, 2008 #7
    Yeah, but in the scenario you described, life pretty much sucked and nobody was happy. In Brave New World, everyone is happy and thus life doesn't suck.
  9. Dec 25, 2008 #8
    It's a work of fiction for a reason.

    Okay. Yes, I'd also like to live in a society where everyone is truly happy and everything is sustainable. Is that what you want to hear? I don't think anyone would disagree with that... but it's impossible.
  10. Dec 25, 2008 #9
    I'm kinda wondering how you could read the book and think of it the way you do. Its sort of like reading Kafka and being inspired to become a bureaucrat.
  11. Dec 25, 2008 #10
    So, you are agreeing with my original argument? I said 'what is wrong w/ the society portrayed in BNW?'
  12. Dec 25, 2008 #11
    That's why we have physics, the study of everything.
  13. Dec 25, 2008 #12
    So physics is the answer to utopia?
  14. Dec 25, 2008 #13
    Well, we need to accumulate more knowledge and skills to get there. To get to the point where we don't need any more knowledge for the sake of knowledge but rather to just sustain ourselves and our happiness.
  15. Dec 25, 2008 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    I will always remember a comment made by a person who fought in the Korean War. While in Korea, he used to watch the local women come down to the river to wash their clothes. They would smile and laugh and sing the entire time. He was quite struck that they seemed to be genuinely happy in the most dire of circustances; and much happier than his own wife who had all of the modern conveniences.

    I am also reminded of a young man who lived deep in the heart of Mexico - back when much of Mexico was fairly primitive - who spent a week in New York city for I think a medical procedure. He was so traumatized by his experience in NY that the locals in his village thought he had been possessed by a demon, and performed an exorcism.
  16. Dec 25, 2008 #15
    What is happiness? Happiness to one person is not happiness to another.

    It's all subjective, like most things, which makes utopia IMPOSSIBLE. One man derives happiness from killing people, another derives happiness from saving people. You really believe science is going to solve this problem?

    You're basically telling me you'd rather be high for eternity than have to deal with life. Sure... we could keep everyone dosed up to the eyeballs on their own psychoactive substances all day every day so that they feel "happy", but would that be the right thing to do?
  17. Dec 25, 2008 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    You may enjoy watching the old 1936 classic, "Things to Come", which was based on the HG Well's novel, "The Shape of Things to Come".
    Part 1:

    It toys with the notion of a utopia created by scientists and engineers.[Also, it addresses the fear at the time that the next war would never end until all of the machines were gone]
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  18. Dec 25, 2008 #17
    Exactly. There is a "pleasure center" in the brain once physically stimulated causes a person to be happy. The only difference is what experiences trigger this set of tissue, which differs for everyone. Yes, I believe that it is possible to physically solve this problem, and it might be humanly possible.

    Tell me what is the "right thing" to do. I'm a big fan of cultural relativism. If we teach our kids to respect the customs of other societies, why not Brave New World?
  19. Dec 25, 2008 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    The elusive "happy pill".
  20. Dec 25, 2008 #19
    I've got some experience with physically stimulating my own "pleasure centers". And there does exist a "happy pill". The problem with the happy pill is that your brain can only take so much.

    If you snort cocaine for six days, it stops being a euphoric experience, and becomes a horribly dysphoric nightmare complete with nightmarish hallucinations and psychosis. All drugs serve to do is stimulate the pleasure center... like electrical impulses would. Why would you think that the outcome would be any different?

    I think it's undeniable that there's a natural balance to all things in the universe. Like I said before... without sadness there can be no happiness.
  21. Dec 25, 2008 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Probably the happiest people I have ever known were nuns.
  22. Dec 25, 2008 #21
    Well bud, I would have to disagree with you here again. But then again, we would both be speculating so let's leave these particular parts settled. Have a happy christmas ;)
  23. Dec 25, 2008 #22
    Uhm, ok. :rolleyes: Way to engage me in a philosophical debate and take the intellectually lazy way out, while at the same time noting your disagreement without giving any reason.
  24. Dec 25, 2008 #23
    The only thing missing from this ignorant comment is a sprinkling of racial hatred and it would be like any other "comment" on libertarian or conservative forums for the holidays.

    As someone who's studied Huxley's works, care to explain how his vision of society fits in with Obama's?
  25. Dec 25, 2008 #24
    Don't talk to me of ignorance while at the same time revealing your own with your "racial hatred" comment.

    It's a common theme in modern liberal thinking that the state has some sort of obligation to provide happiness to the masses. Don't worry... everything is taken care of. We'll educate your children, pay for your healthcare, manage your finances. Unfortunately the state wouldn't exist without me and my paycheck and I don't care about your children, your healthcare, or your finances. I found a way to create my own happiness without taking anyone elses (I am, however, paying a weekly welfare check to some deadbeat out there somewhere), and I'm not any more special than you are.
  26. Dec 25, 2008 #25
    Well, I've read the book and am thus kind of surprised by the comments here. I think people make the same mistake with Brave New World that they do with 1984, missing the forest for the trees.

    Brave New World didn't seem much like the USSR from my reading of it, and its satirical outlet seemed to be much more the consumerism and the attitudes of Westerners and the predictions of where they would lead, whereas 1984 can be read as criticism of propaganda, endless warfare (Eurasia is the enemy, Eurasia has always been the enemy), using totalitarianism as an outlet. In fact, Orwell himself said that the book described what he saw as the sitution in the UK in 1948, where rationing was still in in place, the news papers reporting the triumphs of the declining British Empire, etc. (in fact, England did have "Ministries of Propaganda" etc. and the US had these as well under different names). The book "Brave New World" was written in 1931 when Stalin had not yet got into his stride and before Hitler had risen to power; its predictions seemed to be on the logic of consumerism, not those totalitarian states. Furthermore, Huxley himself said that the totalitarian methods of punishment that do appear in 1984 etc. were less effective than the propaganda and soothing techniques, dysgenics, and the other "non-violent" methods in BNW. In his book "BNW: Revisited" (recommended) he contrasts the differences of propaganda and control in totalitarian countries versus that of "democratic-capitalist" ones.

    The critiques of industry or consumerism and its values are pretty obvious, for example, the eugenics and dysgenics in the book are described on p.7 as "the principle of mass production at last applied to biology." "Mass production" seems to be the constant aim of Huxley's satire, and the references to it are endless, with the book even taking place somewhere in the 6th or 7th century After Ford.

    The reason soma is used is because it is a "non-violent" means of controlling the population, in contrast to the USSRs heavy amount of violence against the individual. The only time direct violence is used is when you're advocating open rebellion or sabatoge against the government (just like in the US or any other country). For example, police are brought in when John the Savage tries to incite a rebellion in the hospital, and they play "pacifying music" that recalls their hypnopaedic training and soma vapor is used to calm them. And even here the instigators are not murdered (bernard, Helmholtz, and John) but are asked to leave.

    In his long argument with the "controller," where John seems to be unable to adequately refute his arguments, it is made clear that the purpose of denying people literature, access to the arts, and so on, is to continually get them to "consume the new" arts, products, and so on. When John tries to refute the argument that the "feely movies" are garbage and not about human passion or emotion, etc., the controller counters that these things create instability and are thus banned.

    After this chapter, Bernard comes to the relization that the consumerism that exists in the World State infantilizes adults in their everyday lives (their movies, their mindless trival pursuits, their pluralistic sexual relationships) are to this effect. (In fact, a good book to read in conjunction with BNW might be the non-fiction book "Consumbed.)

    In the next chapters about religion it is pointed out that people turn to it as they lose control of their own lives, and this can serve as another critique of consumerism because when you turn to religion etc. you're often looking for a "higher purpose" in life but this can also be seen as a critique of values in a capitalist system as well, as pre-industrial philosophies tended to emphasize living the good life or a purposeful life over just being superficially "happy," over just satisfying your artifically constructed wants.

    How all this can be turned around to be about "the USSR" is beyond me.

    Also, I'd recommend reading it along with Island to contrast the ways drugs etc. are used by the societies:

    Island Brave New World
    Drug use for enlightenment, and self-knowledge Drug use for pacification
    Group living (in the form of Mutual Adoption Clubs) so that children would not have unalloyed exposure to their parents' neuroses Group living for the elimination of individuality.
    Trance states for super learning Trance states for indoctrination
    Assisted reproduction (low-tech artificial insemination) Assisted reproduction (high-tech test-tube babies)
    Free modern contraception to enable reproductive choice, expressive sex Universal forced sterilization, meaningless sex
    Dangerous climb to a temple, as spiritual preparation Violent Passion Surrogate
    Parrots trained to utter uplifting slogans Ubiquitous loud speakers

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_(novel [Broken])
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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