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Homework Help: HUMANITIES homework

  1. Sep 29, 2007 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    1. How did this fear of electricity produce Frankenstein?
    2. What are the primary differences between science and religion?
    3. What are the negative effects of using Science Fiction to popularize scientific research?
    4. What is the role of Science Fiction?
    5. Why were 19th century audiences afraid of electricity?

    2. Relevant equations
    Gattaca deals with the morality involved in technologically engineering human life. As a species, is humanity wise enough (Homo sapiens) to play the role of God? The film begins with two quotes: one from Ecclesiastes and one from Willard Gaylen. Ecclesiastes is writing found in the Old Testament that presents reflections on the nature of man, concluding that man was made right and just and willfully chose to disobey God (original sin). The writings suggest that human vanity may be a property of God transferred to his creation Adam, and embodied in the act of eating fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. In this sense, vanity becomes an inadvertent property of creation that is treated as a deliberate act of God. God is thus constituted as an all-knowing entity, a property (perhaps inadvertently?) passed down to Adam who similarly aspires towards godhood, a position forbidden him. The inference of the quote at the beginning of Gattaca presents a moral and philosophical position against genetic engineering rendered specifically from the Old Testament. Suggesting that man was deliberately made with flaws and weaknesses, and that it becomes his trial on Earth to accept them in accordance with God's will. Hence, too, the emergence of the Christian struggle against further transgressing these divine boundaries, and excepting redemption from this original sin through prayer and God's mercy.
    Willard Gaylin (b. 1925) was educated at Harvard University (A.B., 1947), Western Reserve (now Case Western Reserve) University (M.D., 1951), and Columbia University, where, after earning a certificate in psychoanalytic medicine, he served as a faculty member (1956). A practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, he is also cofounder and president of the Hastings Center, which researches ethical issues in the life sciences. [1] Gaylin clearly represents a scientific opinion of genetic engineering, and is deliberately juxtaposed to Biblical positions stemming from Ecclesiastes. In essence, Gaylin argues from a secular position invoking the term Mother Nature rather than God, and stating that since we have developed the science of genetic engineering, we are supposed to use it. In other words, if humanity was given the rational ability to understand how DNA works through evolution and science, does it not stand to reason that we are given license to proceed down that path?
    In essence, Gattaca is the story of two brothers, Vincent and his older brother Anton. Vincent is conceived through the normal manner of procreation from his Father's semen and his Mother's egg. In the future outlined by Gattaca, Vincent is know alternatively as a "God-child" or a "Faith-child," indicating that the parents put religion ahead of genetic engineering. At Vincent's birth his blood is immediately screened for genetic abnormalities, concluding that he will die at age thirty of a terminal heart condition. His father is particularly distraught over this news, and declines to give Vincet his first name Anton (hence Vincent Anton Freeman). For their second child, the Freeman's use genetic engineering to produce a superior son named Anton after the father. Anton is physically superior in Vincent in every way, at least in theory. Anton is arrogant and vain, and constantly belittles his older and weaker brother Vincent in physical competitions such as swimming. However, Vincent has properties such as ambition, drive, and curiosity lacking in his physically superior younger brother. In short, Vincent develops the spirit to surmount his physical limits, and achieve social goals that are deemed impossible for someone with his limited genetic quotient.
    In the film, Gattaca itself is a NASA like organization colonizing the planets in the Earth's solar system. Gattaca has strict hiring policies, and accepts only genetically engineered human beings called “Valids.” Vincent dreams of being an astronaut, but could never pass Gattaca’s strict hiring policies because his not genetically engineered. As a person born through normal biological methods, Vincent is called an “Invalid.” This designation alludes to the fact that in this future genetic engineering has become the norm, and individuals born “normally” are considered abnormal and undesirable. In order to beat this system and pursue his dreams as an astronaut at Gattaca, Vincent must borrow the identity from a genetically engineered Valid named Jerome Morrow. In short, Morrow is a genetically engineered superhuman, who has become paralyzed from a car accident. Vincent borrows Jerome’s genetic identity – samples of blood, urine, hair – and enters illegally the exclusive world of Gattaca. With Jerome’s genetic signature, Vincent is able to join a prestigious mission to explore Titan, a moon of Jupiter. In essence, Gattaca is a morality play, and its central theme is the morality of genetic engineering. The world of Gattaca is a bleak one, in which persons not genetically engineered are looked down upon and systematically discriminated, a termed referred to in the film as "Genoism."
    Gattaca is a Science Fiction film set in the Not-Too-Distant-Future. The film was released in 1997, approximately the same time period in which X-files screened Redux I and Redux II during the beginning of Season 5. In those two episodes, DNA constitutes the very core of the government conspiracy to control all aspects of life in the United States, and beyond. Including issues surrounding life and death itself, especially as it relates to an individual's biological destiny seen through the lens of evolution. And, additionally, the social, cultural, and political conditions that currently inform mainstream human identity based on filial bloodlines. In terms of cloning, for example, what is the point of establishing paternity if there was no father? In global patriarchy, what are the cultural ramifications of rendering extinct a formal system of identity overnight? What happens to worldwide systems of power entrenched in the genealogical transference of wealth, property, and titles? What will happen to the mighty family of man if there are no more fathers and no more sons?
    It is precisely this prospect that has so many people, especially men who benefit from this global patriarchy, against human cloning. From a biblical perspective, for instance, conception outside heterosexual relationships sanctioned by the church in marriage is strictly forbidden. The goal of the marriage is to produce a son to carry on the seed of the father, including his surname. Traditionally, the first-born son inherits all the property, wealth, and titles from his father. Historically, this paternity is traced backward to a specific passage in Genesis that states that God the Father created Adam in his own image, and that Eve was created later from one of Adam's rib. The divine genealogy of man is then established to privilege identity passed down from Father to son, and precisely through the surname. The daughter, of course, must change her surname at marriage whereby she becomes the vehicle for the propagation of her husband's identity by producing male offspring. What will happen to these patriarchal structures rooted in male bloodlines if a male child is produced through cloning without a father? Further, if there is no clear paternity, what is that child's relationship to God the Father, and how could that child further the divine nature of mankind without a clear-cut paternity?
    What if a private corporation clones its workforce in an effort to save payroll expenses? It is currently not illegal for private organizations to engage in human cloning, so what's to stop them from doing so when the technology arrives? Of course, this assumes it is not currently being done, a poor premise born of scant actual evidence. Private corporations are not, of course, required to publicize their internal research, at least before it proceeds to the public sector. Through the peer review process and Government research that has traditionally safeguarded the public from new technologies. The deed in fact could already be done, which then shifts the whole concern to politics. Public debates have been held, and will continue to be held, to determine how the Federal Government will draw out laws protecting the rights of persons produced as the result of cloning. For instance, are corporate clones with no obvious filial identities anything more or less than property, indistinguishable from fax machines? With no mother, father, or family support, who will care about the civil rights of this cloned workforce?
    What if the Depart of Defense decides to clone soldiers in order to reduce the "human" cost of war? After all, war is as much about popular opinion as it is about the politics and execution of war. When men and women in the military start coming back from the frontlines in flag-draped coffins, their families can provide powerful anti-war propaganda. If a war becomes unpopular, the politicians that initially supported it might get cold feet when thinking about their own re-election prospects at home. This process then has a tendency to dry up the economic pipeline that is the key to any ongoing military enterprise, and thus ultimately to its success. What if there were military casualties, but no flag-draped coffins? What if there was no human cost to a war, and how could such a prospect not interest the Department of Defense? Indeed, if well articulated, couldn't this case be made to the American public, a future war fought without American casualties from the working class?
    Of course, by that time the working class would be almost completely extinct, having been replaced by clones in the early emergence of America's new working class. At that point, what economic clout could the working class have left to offer their corporate overseers? How could they even function as consumers without wages to engender material consumption? Having been replaced by clones in the military, their last option as cannon fodder in nationalistically driven wars for economic hegemony would also be denied. Vast tracts of American civilians permanently displaced would constitute a new political reality that could destroy Democracy in the United States, especially one predicated on the free market and consumption. What value would humans have in a new technologically driven world built on the labor of clones? Faced with the prospect of their imminent extinction, what other course would exist than civil war between humans and clones?

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2007 #2


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    1. I thought Mary Shelley produced Frankenstein.
    Do you, or any one else have any evidence that she was in grip of this fear?
    If you do not have that type of evidence, the premise behind the question is dismissable.
  4. Sep 29, 2007 #3


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    Unless of course she was writing to pander to the fear of the gen. population (or her perception of that fear).
  5. Sep 29, 2007 #4
    no one knows how to solve those problem?
  6. Sep 30, 2007 #5


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    Why did you sign up to a physics forum to ask a humanitites question? Anyway, the rules still apply as they would to any other homework question; you need to show an attempt before we can help you. Is this some sort of comprehension exercise, or is that long passage something you've written?
  7. Oct 1, 2007 #6


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    5. Are you sure they were?
    From what I'd say, those among the 19th centurians who knew about it thought of it as something "mysterious", "thrilling", rather than something that ought to be feared.

    You really need to justify that your premise is true before you try to explain why the premise is true.
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