Gattaca: A Philosophical Analysis

982 words - 4 pages

Brimming with ultramodern scenery and metaphysical speculation, Gattaca is a profound glimpse into the not-so-distant future of humanity. Vincent, the main character, is a frustrated ‘faith birth’ living in a world in which his genetically manipulated peers have succeeded him in every competition. Motivated by an unquenchable fascination with space, Vincent recruits the chronically petulant but genetically flawless Jerome Morrow, who allows Vincent to assume his genetic identity in exchange for companionship and free alcohol. As Jerome, Vincent is quickly hired and becomes a celebrated success at Gattaca, America’s leading space station. Poignant and triumphant, Gattaca provides the discerning viewer with a philosophical perspective of the ethics, politics, and realities involved in the lives of both the genetically superior and the naturally conceived.
In Gattaca, the metaphysical reality of human free will is articulated through Vincent’s unpredicted achievement. Modern idealists, such as Berkley, believe that reality consists of ideas rather than physical objects (Velasquez 190). Jerome reveals his own idealistic mindset through an intimate conversation with Vincent, in which he lessens the significance of his physical contribution to their mutually dependant relationship and proclaims the necessary role of Vincent’s nonphysical one. Jerome says, ‘I only lent you my body. You lent me your dream’. Sartre, an existentialist philosopher, believed that every individual is responsible for determining his or her individual purpose (Velasquez 96). Although authorities at Gattaca possess a rigidly materialistic outlook (displayed through their unquestioning reliance on genetic analysis as a means of determining competence), Vincent easily disregards this erroneous assumption by acknowledging the reality of human responsibility. Exceeding the expected potential of an ‘invalid’ and embarking on a flight to Titan, Vincent harnesses the power of human will and defies the constraints of a society restricted by materialistic delusions. Illustrating the triumph of free will over materialist reductionism, Director Josef – oblivious to Vincent’s deception – praises Vincent’s work, saying, ‘not one error on a million keystrokes! Phenomenal. It’s right that someone like you is taking us to Titan’.
The ethical issues expressed in Gattaca raise multiple philosophical questions about the morality involved in legal dishonesty, the importance of majority gain, and God’s role in determining right and wrong. Relativism states that moral standards change to suit the unique circumstances of every act (Velasquez 513). Although dishonest, Vincent’s identity falsification would not be considered immoral by a relativist, who would view the unjust genetic discrimination imposed upon Vincent by society as sufficient cause for a necessary deception. Paradoxically, a utilitarian – aiming at the greatest good for the greatest number – would vouch instead for the...

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