Tag Archives: Knowledge

Fahrenheit 451

Chile_quema_libros_1973Fahrenheit 451 brings up a new perspective on censorship. The censorship of books. This form of censorship comes in the most real way as burning books theoretically eliminates them forever. To bring up a point Meaghan made today, “isn’t it ironic that we are reading a book about burning books?”

While the main aspect of Montag’s life is censoring books, I also found that his life, and the lives of others, was censored as well. The first example is when Montag meets Clarisse. He realizes that he was simply wearing his happiness as a mask. By doing so, he was censoring his emotions.  The truth is also censored, as Beatty admits in regards to the fireman’s job, “Well, I’d say it really got started around about a thing called the Civil War. Even though our rule book claims it was founded earlier.” Why does the rule book lie about the beginning of the fireman’s modern job? Is this just a way to justify what they are doing? I do find this point to be quite ironic, as they are burning books, yet the firemen have rule books of their own.  The final form of censorship I would like to bring up is the censorship of education. By getting rid of books, they took out philosophy, history and language. Eventually spelling was neglected and ignored. To me, all of these forms of censorship came directly from the burning of books. Emotions possibly by the lack of communication that happens when Mildred, Montag’s wife, cares more about her “parlour family” than her own husband. The truth, comes from the burning of historical documents. With those gone, no one would know the truth as it was back then, only the new fabricated truth that “they” want us to know. (Who is “they” anyway?) The censorship of education comes from the lack of teaching literacy. These children in school simply pull thoughts from their head, rather than writing them down and making some sort of meaning from them.

Our discussion in class today in many ways brought up more points from the book. The point was brought up that the world in books isn’t real, which is also a point Beatty brings up when the firemen burn a woman’s books, and burn the woman with them. Is that justifiable? It was also argued that the fantasy in books can create a sort of escape when one is unhappy, which goes directly against the idea that books make people unhappy, which is stated in the book. When we think back to Mildred’s suicide attempt, is it fair then to say that books make people happy? Mildred must have been unhappy to some extent to attempt suicide, yet isn’t her “parlour family” the ideal in that society?

The idea that a world without books makes people happy seems to come from what Beatty told Montag later in the chapter, “It didn’t come from the government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.” Is this a fair assumption? Are they the people who burn book because of the truth that they want? Do they fear one another to such an extent that they hide their emotions? Are they the generation who fear the next generation to such an extent that they “dumb down” education to an extent where no one really thinks anymore? Or are they simply misguided?

We may not burn books yet, but we hide emotions, we fabricate the truth, we tend fear those who are smarter than us. While this may not be true for every individual, I find that main aspects of this book almost “predicted” the future, the future of our REAL society.This is a real life example of books being burned in Chile. Are we becoming the society, or are we already the society, that has been presented in Fahrenheit 451?

This link may not be 100% accurate, however I find that it relates quite closely to this text, and to our recent discussions of censorship.

Controversy between Science and Religion

Is it possible for a person to be both religious and accept science at the same time?  The debate between science and religion has occurred for centuries.  Ever since the Classical antiquity, these two different views of acquiring knowledge have been a hot topic with many different views and opinions.  Science generally acquires knowledge by using reason, empiricism, and evidence, whereas religion relies on revelation, faith, and belief in the unseen.  In The Eye of Allah, the Abbot’s faith is tested when he discovers pathogens under a microscope.  He finds himself in a situation where science interrupts his life and causes him to pick whether he wants to keep his faith or turn to science and reason.

In early 1200s AD, religion dominated life.  Religion was the main answer to why things happened because technology had not evolved yet, but mainly because scientific reasoning was not conventional.  The conflict between church and science was created because scientific thoughts were sins and were not accepted in society.  The church often ruthlessly persecuted many scientists or people who spoke out against the church, causing narrow-mindedness.

Rudyard Kipling in The Eye of Allah introduces science in a time when society is not ready for it.  When the Abbot is faced with the challenge of keeping the microscope or destroying it, he says, “’it would seem’, he said, ‘the choice lies between two sins.  To deny the world a Light which is under our hand, or to enlighten the world before her time” (170).  It is true that the Abbot does not know what to do, but in the end he chooses to pick his religion over science.  The reason is unknown, but it can be assumed that he wanted to censor the world from this new technology or simply because he wanted to save his position in religion.  In the end, was he right to choose religion over science?  Was the Abbot really helping society?  And is it indeed possible to believe in both religion and science?

Scientific Knowledge- When is it too much?

In this blog post, I would like to ask your opinions on scientific knowledge and what your views are on this complicated subject. Firstly, Roger Shattuck, the author of the article “Forbidden Knowledge” addresses the issues of atomic bombing and genetic research on DNA. The atomic bomb was constructed because of the fear of an “unprecedented attack on civilization” (173). In order to make an atomic bomb, scientists had to go explore further into science and technology to understand how to make something so difficult. By under coving this knowledge on how to make something so dangerous brings out both pros and cons. Some pros are advancements in technologies and safety mechanisms for warfare. However, the most important negative effects for exploring this scientific knowledge is the fact that finding out the knowledge to make these dangerous weapons allow other people to make them as well. It also raises the question of what is moral when fighting in warfare? Do you think atomic bombs are appropriate weapons in war? Are the health risks associated with them worth it?

Another complicated topic that Roger Shattuck discusses is genetic research on DNA. Scientists now have been able to crack the code of life by learning how to analyze DNA to test for genetic disorders. A few examples used to do this are to test individuals for one carry of a gene for a disease that requires two copies of a gene. Scientist also uses genetic research on DNA to test prenatal diagnostics. Shattuck states that, “as increasing numbers of fetuses are diagnosed with serious disorders, abortion has become a widely practiced therapeutic procedure” (177). Is this necessary right? Is it fair and right for expecting parents to test for diseases before the newborn is born? Is it right to get an abortion in order for the child to not suffer knowing it will when it is born into the world? This scientific discovery is extremely sacred because it influences the lives of other people. Also, being able to test for genes for certain diseases that require both genes from the parent can help two people decide to not conceive and have children if their baby will have the disease. Is this right? Is it our responsibility to mess around with creating life? Should we have science influence who should be born and who shouldn’t?

These two topics are current controversies in the world that connect to a lot of the texts we have read in class. We have discussed consequences of knowing too much but more specifically what are the limits of scientific knowledge? In the world we live in today we strive to keep learning and growing and gaining more knowledge but at what point do our morals take over? Should we be making atomic bombs that protect us but also put ourselves in danger and should we be playing God and messing with human lives? One major point that Roger Shattuck argues in his article is that science is basically just the “habit of simple truth to experience [which] has been the mover of civilization” (224). Is this the right way to look at it? Is science just simply the truth that is there for us to explore? Science is there no matter what which is why it is so tempting to keep researching it because essentially as a scientist “you believe that it is good to find out how the world works; that it is good to find out what the realities are; that it is good to turn over to mankind at large the greatest power possible to control the world and to deal with it according to its lights and values”.

Dr. Faustus: Movement into the Renaissance

Deal with the Devil
Deal with the Devil

Dr. Faustus was written in the Renaissance and therefore represents how to be a good Christian. As a character, Dr. Faustus is not a good Christian. But he teaches readers of the time what they shouldn’t do. Faustus is showing the way not to die; if you live life as a good Christian and avoid the devil and temptation then you will go to heaven.

 

On page 14 we can see a shift away from the divine, and the definition of something more temporal. Faustus says “Had I as many souls as there be stars, /I’d give them all for Mephistophilis. /By him I’ll be great Emperor of the world, /And make a bridge through the moving air, /To pass the ocean with a band of men; /I’ll join the hills that bind the Afric shore, /And make that [country] continent to spain, /and both contributory to my crown. /The Emperor of shall not live but by my leave, /Nor any potentate of Germany. /Now that I have obtain’d what I desire, /I’ll live in speculation of this art /Till Mephistophilis return again” (p.14, scene 3). In this speech and throughout scene 3, Faustus defines hierarchy as the chain of being. He challenges mans place in the divine hierarchy as he is trying to let his own individual desires control his outcome. He believes that by making a deal with the devil, he can outsmart the devil and prove that there is no heaven or hell.

 

The moral of Dr. Faustus is to be a good Christian. Christopher Marlowe wrote in a time when Christianity and Plato’s idea of the great chain of being were being accepted and shifted towards justifying knowledge with religion and the church. This idea of the great chain of being means that people were born as natural slaves and could become saints if they are good Christians. This shift toward the renaissance and away from medieval synthesis is how Marlowe portrayed the character of Dr. Faustus and the way he wanted to gain more knowledge not given by the church and religion, as the heat of the renaissance was a time when people started to rely on their senses.