13 December 2013
Aristotle in A Brave New World
The book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Aristotle’s thoughts and writings were very controversial for their time. Brave New world, a book about a dark “utopian” future where humans are made in labs and are conditioned to follow a ruling order, made people aware about the dark side of genetic engineering. The Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics by Aristotle tell what a happy life is and how man my nature needs a state to reach their full potential. Many people would not want to live in the setting of Brave New World, but how would Aristotle survive in such a place. What would Aristotle think of living in this “utopian” future?
Brave New World is about a future where everyone is genetically engineered. In this world there is no poverty or sickness. However different classes of people are made and conditioned in the labs. There are five casts of people, ranking from the Alphas who are most sociable and intelligent all the way down to the Epsilsons who are the lowest and stupidest class that only know how to do remote mindless work. Each caste have different task that they are trained to do perfectly and each group wears a certain color that establishes what caste they are from. As they grow up they are conditioned in the labs to hate certain things and to love others. These kids are brainwashed and their thought don’t really belong to them, but instead are forced to be there. The state makes each class think the same things and like the same hobbies. Those who don’t act like everyone else is seen as an outcast and a problem in society. However everyone is happy all the time. If someone is feeling down then they take a drug called soma, which will make them instantly happy again. Everyone lived a simple life full of pleasure. But it is discourage for people to think for themselves. In Brave New World there is also a place called the savage reservation. The reservation is seen as a dystopia full of barbaric people who value love, family, and religion. The people born in the reservation are not allowed to leave because the people living in the brave new world or the World State view them as dirty savages who are not welcomed in the World State because they would not fit in. Finally the last place in the novel is an island where unique people are sent so that they can freely think. The island is home to people who can study science or do what they want (Huxley).
Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics states that the end is the good and that good is happiness. The good is not pleasure, honor, nor virtue. The good, which is happiness, is self-sufficing, something final, and the end of all that man do. Man’s function is obeying reason and having and exercising reason. Happiness requires perfect excellence and virtue but also years of exercise. Aristotle also writes that moral virtue is acquired by the repetition of corresponding acts. He says this occurs in a State where legislators make their citizens good by training and this can result in either a good or bad constitution. Virtue is habit of choice that is a kind of moderation. A happy life exhibits virtue and this life must be serious and not consist in amusement. Contemplation and speculation are important to live a happy life. Aristotle says that the wise man is the happiest. Those whose desires are set on pleasure are not good. In The Politics Aristotle writes how every state is a community, Aristotle believes that barbarians are a community of slaves because there is no natural leader among them. Man by nature is a political animal because man cannot reach his end or full potential without a state. When man is separated from law and justice he becomes the worst of animals. Aristotle believes that these men who are intended by nature to be governed will not submit then war in naturally just. A state is made of citizens who share in the administration of justice and in offices. But citizens differ through different types of government. A government should be concerned for the common good for all. To conclude, Aristotle overall believes that man’s function, the ability to live according to reason, is the good which leads to a happy life (Aristotle).
But would Aristotle be able to survive in the World State in Brave New World? What would Aristotle think of this place and what would the people think of him? Aristotle would most likely have been an Alpha, the most intelligent of the castes. However Aristotle would not like the World State because he would not be allowed to think for himself. This would prevent him all everyone in the World State from living a happy life because they would not be able to live according to reason. Since people are conditioned to act a certain way, Aristotle would say that no one would life a happy life because they cannot think for themselves and contemplate things. Especially the Epsilsons who are made to only perform mindless task cannot obey reason because they don’t have it at all. Also Aristotle would say it is not good to live a life completely full of pleasure, which is what the people in the World State do, because that’s not living a life of moderation. Even though they have a state, none of the citizens can live up to their full potential. Aristotle would say that this is a bad legislature with a bad constitution because they train their citizens to not live virtuously and even prevent them from performing their function. I also believe that Aristotle would hate the savage reserve because he would see those people as barbarians. Aristotle would not like the savages because he sees them as stateless people, who by nature are suppose to be governed. The savages in Aristotle’s eyes will never be able to reach their final end, or full potential without a state. Aristotle would also think that the savages are slaves and could never use reason to think. Now the people in the World State would not like Aristotle because they would see him as an outcast who does not belong in society. Because Aristotle would try to reach his full potential and live a life through reason and wisdom the people of the World State would not accept him. Therefore Aristotle would be sent to the island where all the others with independent ideas go. Could Aristotle potentially like this? Would he be able to live a happy life reaching his full potential on the island? Sadly the answer is no. Aristotle would be able to use reason and be able to contemplate and think and gain wisdom, but he could not live a happy life. The island is stateless, without a natural leader. Since man is a political animal meaning that he needs a state to reach his final end, then Aristotle would not live up to his function, meaning he would not live a happy or good life.
Therefore Aristotle would not like the three places in Brave New World and a majority of the people in the book would not like or accept him and his intellectual thoughts. Aristotle would not fit in the World State and would be banned to an island full of others who would rather choose wisdom over pleasure. However none of these people such as those on the island, savage reservation, or the World State would be able to live a happy life. I do believe that Aristotle would rather be on the island, because a state could form as a person becomes their natural leader and then Aristotle could potentially be able to live a life according to reason and be apart of a state. However the government of the state would have to benefit the common good and have citizens that participate in justice. This new complete community would become a state when is becomes self-sufficing. So Aristotle could live up to his function, if the island were to become a state, meaning that Aristotle could survive and live a happy life in Brave New World.
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Merrill, 1962. Print.
Aristotle, Benjamin Jowett, and H W. C. Davis. Aristotle’s Politics. Oxford:
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Aristotle/Brave New World. N.d. Photograph. Weebly. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World,. New York: Harper & Bros.,