Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

One of the two most influential dystopian novels of the 20th century (the other being George Orwell’s 1984), Huxley’s Brave New World predicted a future of mood-altering drugs. His title is taken from Shakespeare’s The Tempest–the moment when Miranda exclaims, “How beautious mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!” –to which her father cynically rejoins, “Tis new to thee.”

3 Responses to Huxley

  1. Christina Sinnott says:

    The Holocaust Museum was a terrifying example of how a society can go horribly wrong. A dystopia usually refers to the disastrous result or results of attempting to make the world or humankind perfect. It is a play on the title of the book Utopia by Sir Thomas More, about a perfect society where everybody is happy and has everything they need. In a dystopia, society has been arranged according to some plan that ends up making almost everyone miserable and needy. The word dystopian can be used as a snarl word in many cases, particularly when applied to conservatives or rightist reformers. Anyone who wants to make the world a worse place can be called dystopian, no matter how pragmatic they are in doing so. It is often forgotten by true dystopias that one person’s dystopia can be someone else’s heaven.
    Seeing the Holocaust Museum just made the terror more real to me. It made me feel so sad to see those exhibits, but I think that it was important to see the museum at least once.

  2. Chrisitna Sinnott says:

    Whether or not I would walk away from Omelas would depend on whether or not there was any reasonable hope to change Omelas. In Ursula Le Guin’s utilitarian thought experiment we have to consider a municipality ideal in any way that we can choose to consider except that it is dependent on the suffering of an innocent child.
    Is this situation in which by utilitarian standards the happiness of the community clearly outweighs the suffering of a single child truly justifiable? Act utilitarianism, utilitarianism in general, in general all seem to lead to contradictions. Omelas seems to be justifiable if we could accept utilitarianism especially. Utility is defined approximately as the contribution to happiness, but happiness cannot be assumed to be the primary dimension of moral worth. Utilitarianism does not necessarily value freedom as Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World illustrates. Act utilitarianism would morally require us to sacrifice innocents if the utilitarian calculus indicated that it resulted in a positive outcome overall. This lack of concern for the value of each individual consciousness is a dangerous policy in the context of utilitarianism. If the ends always justify the means revolutionary movements can always justify brutality with a utopian vision of the future, and authoritarian regimes can justify repression with the greater good.
    If you compare this short story with Utopia, I feel you will find that both pieces believe that a new and better world can be created, but neither one is sure about how to achieve this goal. Almost all Utopia’s start off the same way, people trying to make a difference but in the end they just end up like Omelas.

  3. Christina Sinnott says:

    As you find the themes, try to think not only about what they say about Huxley’s Utopia, but also about Huxley’s real world- and our own. Brave New World fits into a long tradition of books like Utopia, an ideal state where everything is done for the good of humanity as a whole, and evils like war and poverty cannot exist. They are both based on a sense of community equality. There are no haves and have-nots. They are both purely fictitious. Community, Identity, Stability is the motto of the World State. It lists the Utopia’s prime goals. Community is in part a result of identity and stability. It is also achieved through a religion that satirizes Christianity- a religion that encourages people to reach solidarity through sexual orgy. And it is achieved by organizing life so that a person is almost never alone. A society can achieve stability only when everyone is happy, and the them in both novels is to try hard to ensure that every person is happy. It does its best to eliminate any painful emotion, which means every deep feeling, every passion.

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