Thursday, January 24, 2013

In favor of the monster prompt 1- Karen Knutson

In Favor of the Monster
In Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, the monster is treated as an abomination and cast out from all societies that he tried to enter. Even though he is treated as a subhuman, does that make the monster a non-human species? It could appear so, if speaking in a biblical aspect. The monster was made by man, and therefore would not contain an actual soul as he would be a conglomerate of parts that would neither go to hell nor heaven, as soon as his processes stopped, he would only be a non-animated slop of parts. However, I as well as many others do not believe in the soul, therefore I will not accept that as a suitable answer. I believe that the monster can be considered a human through my reasoning of humanity and comparing the monter to our modern species.
Our species, Homo sapiens, is an interesting one. We are able to culturally adapt and morphologically adapt to a broad range of climates, however what defines a human? We could go with the biospecies concept in which as long as the two beings can mate and produce viable offspring then they are a species together. Yet, that seems harsh and animalistic, and there are diseases in which a certain member of the species cannot produce viable offspring. Even the anthropological definition of humanity is vague due to the overlap with many features and behaviors that other species have. However, a simple resource may be able to guide into a more structured view the dictionary. The first two definitions in Merriam-Webster revert back to circular logic, however, the third definition states,” having human form or attributes,” and “susceptible to or representative of the sympathies and frailties of human nature”(). So if a mixture of all of these ideass are present, then I propose that a human is someone who morphologically human as well as emotionally a human in we assume that a human has emotionally expected responses.
Now this leaves the monster in an interesting position. He was at one point, many mophilogical correct parts of a mishmash of humans. However, there are many people living today who are combintiosn of parts. Our medical technology allows us to do, heart, liver, epidermis, marrow and blood transfusions that are not from the same source as the rest of the patient. The monster is a more extreme example f what happens in modern medicine every day. Not only do we transplant human parts, but we transplant mechanical parts into ourselves as well. Knees, hips, hearts, and other not naturally create parts are inserted into humans all te time; so if the monster does have any unnatural parts to him, he can still be considered a human.
The monster is also capable of a various range of human emotions. When he is in agony after the affair with the DeLacey's he his able do complex human thought and notes, "I ought to have familiarized the old DeLacey to me, and by degrees to have discovered myself to the rest of his family," (Shelly 1881, p. 112). This complex thought is often not associated with other species of mamals.
Not only that, but classifiing human behavior becomes increasingly difficult when there are so many exceptions and dilemas in our own society. Many people are born with genetic defects that do not allow them to socialize properly, and sometimes these defects are from accidents. We don't call someone in acoma a different species, nor do we with the disabled. Therefore, the horror that is the monster's grotesque form should not deny him from being classified as a human.
There is also the issue that the monster has super strength intelligence, and speed that seem out of the scope of humanity. However, if we look at the best and the brightest from each section, we see how it could be possible that the monster is created by using the attributes of the most athletic and brightest people. At the olympics, we see many people who push the boundarties of how fast or how strong a peron can be. Usain Bolt broke a world reccord at the 2012 London Olympics and ran 27 miles per hour, which is around the average speed of most horses. There are also people who have astounded the earth with their intelligence, Steven Hawlking, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie are all people who are in textbooks and will be in those books until someone discoveres something even more astounding.
Even though the monster does not consider himslf to be a part of the human race, he innevidably is a part of the species that detests his existance due to his morphological and not so superhuman traits


Janine Talis said...

I liked that you went right for a literal definition of humanity instead of trying to find some great philosophical opinion. But in a way I find the definition slightly too broad. You mention at one point that someone in a coma is still considered human, yet your definition of human includes the ability for complex thought. While we do not know truly how the mind works when one is in a coma, there is an argument against complex thoughts and reactions in that state. What about babies? Babies are just learning and exploring the world, but their thoughts are still under-developed, not complex. So, are they not human? Then you can argue that primates, being of humanoid shape and of some intelligence allowing them to have reactive emotions, fit into your definition of human.

Still, I did like the essay. I felt that your definition of humanity should have been stated in the introduction since that is where you are introducing your argument. But I understand that you wanted a paragraph to explain why you chose that particular definition.

Jackson Crowder said...

You make an interesting point about how our modern medical technology can change our concept of our own humanity. It is similar to the Ship of Theseus argument: If a ship is constantly fixed and upgraded over the years to the point where none of its original parts remain, is it still the same ship? I would argue that, although the Monster is made up of different parts, none of which were with his brain in their previous lives, his consciousness makes him largely human although his physical form distorts the reality. It begs the question: do our bodies really matter as long as our brains provide us with a consciousness? Are our body parts just the materials with which our brains provide itself with the means to live?

Adam said...

Note: next time make sure you have readable paragraph breaks.

The first paragraph just doesn't make sense to me. I have no idea, for instance, what you're trying to say about the Bible and Frankenstein. One problem here is that there are usually rather large differences between what people assume is in the Bible and what is actually there (the idea of the soul is rather a thorny topic - if you care, I'll explain the bits and pieces I know about the topic). In any case, you seem to be using this incoherent discussion of the soul to set up a straw man - I'm not sure why.

In the 2nd paragraph, you seem to be about to do something interesting with a biological or anthropological definition of humanity - then you fall back on pretty lame dictionary definition. That might be workable - but you sure didn't need to spend two paragraphs to tell us what Webster's dictionary says!

I've been harassing other people by pointing out that Shelley never says that the monster is a mishmash of parts - that's our assumption, rooted in the movies. However, I'm not sure that really does much damage to your point about morphology. If we emphasize function rather than origin, in other.

Your point about genetic variation and genetic problems is important. It is, of course, rooted in a modern understanding of biology - which is one reason I'm disappointed that you retreated from using a scientific definition. As it stands, you used a non-scientific dictionary definition, but then proceeded to interrogate it scientifically - which is pretty awkward.

Overall: Some of the details here are pretty good, on the topics of genetics and morphology. My interpretation is that you'd argue that if it approximates human form and functions more or less as a human, we should consider it human. However, it requires a lot of work for me to get there - your point (if I understand it correctly) is occluded by fairly incoherent introductions and conclusions. I think your instinct here was to scientific, but for some reason you didn't fully follow through on it - more science, not less, would have created a more fully focused and coherent argument here.

Also, proofread a little! The conclusion especially is a mess.