Frankenstein and Philosophy: The Shocking Truth (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
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Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus sparked into life a fascination with science-gone-awry that refuses to die. From 1818 to present-day Hollywood, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his reanimated, stitched-together corpse has inspired (some would say) the very idea of modern science fiction and countless essays, movies, novels, songs, comic-books, and TV shows aiming to capture what was right, wrong, abominable, inevitable, scary, or funny in this classic tale.
Can organic life be reanimated using electricity or genetic manipulation? If so, could Frankenstein’s monster really teach itself to read and speak as Mary Shelley imagined? Do monsters have rights, or responsibilities to those who would as soon kill them? What is it about music that so affects Frankenstein’s monster, or any of us? What does Mel Brook’s Frau Blucher say to contemporary eco-feminism? Why are some Frankenstein’s flops and others historic successes? Is there a true Frankenstein? Why are children, but not adults, drawn to Shelley’s monster? And what is a “monster,” anyways?
Frankenstein and Philosophy brings 25 philosophers to stitch together these and other questions as they apply the history of philosophy to history’s greatest horror franchise. Some chapters treat the Frankenstein films, others the original novel, and yet others the many comic books, novels, and modern adaptations. Together they pay tribute to perhaps the most enduring pop culture icon and the fundamental fears, hopes, questions, and puzzles it raises.
need to make a distinction between aesthetic value and aesthetic judgment. Aesthetic value relates to our ability to discriminate values of beauty at a sensory level. These appraisals or “valuations” are dependent on sensations that give rise to feelings of pleasure or disgust. Aesthetic judgments, though, usually go beyond purely sensory discrimination. These judgments involve factors that may be culturally conditioned (desirability) or psychologically conditioned (subconscious behavior). We
maintain and create—gone. Disintegrated. Consumed, like the town, in a flash of angry fire. As you stand on the street, devastated by the upheaval of your entire community, you detect movement in the distance. You turn, cautiously, and notice a freakish, monstrous figure ambling forth from amidst the flames. That abomination caused the destruction of your world. That detestable creature, bathing in the maelstrom of inferno, is a fully self-aware and self-evolving android created and planted
is it possible that the very idea is false? Some people, like Nietzsche, when asked the question, “Morality or no morality?” have responded, “That is the question,” and abandoned morality. Thankfully, morality, unlike the story of Victor’s life and the life of his deformed and loveless monster, is not entirely hopeless and destitute. Existentialist philosophers, such as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), believed that no objective foundation existed concerning our moral resolutions; each person simply
outside. Derrida says that often those who call out the other as a rogue or monster are trying to hang on to and secure good and moral ideas they hold about themselves by juxtaposing themselves with the other who can then been seen as bad or immoral as a consequence. Frankenstein wants to be seen as a good human being who is entitled to a happy family life and loving wife that waits for him, but he’s trying to reassure himself of this by saying bad things about his creature. Being called a
in their genetic makeup have produced significant differences in their natures. Differences in their natures result in differences in behavior, and it is actual and expected behavior that defines morality. The morality of the bonobo chimps, for example, certainly does not reflect our morality. Neither does the morality of the creations of Koontz’s Dr. Frankenstein. The members of the “New Race,” created to replace humanity, lacked free will and empathy. Instead, blind obedience and an