Science, Technology, And Human Values Essay

1086 words - 4 pages

Science, Technology, and Human Values in Sigmund Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, Henrik Ibsen and Arthur Miller's An Enemy of the People, and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

Technology has advanced to the point where it touches our lives in nearly every conceivable way-we no longer have to lift a finger to perform the most trivial tasks. The wealth of information and science we have learned in the last few centuries have made our lives easier but not always better, especially when concerning civilization as a whole. Ibsen, Freud, and Vonnegut argue that human values have not kept pace with knowledge's unceasing expansion, which has become an anathema for the individual person and deleterious to society's delectation, albeit without people's entire comprehension.

Henrik Ibsen, as adapted by Arthur Miller, uses his play An Enemy of the People to illustrate how one's contentedness is not necessarily aided by technology but in many instances in fact hindered. When the town's main industry, Kirsten Springs, becomes polluted it raises queries from Dr. Stockmann as to its hazardousness to its occupants. Nearly all residents of the little Norwegian city rally behind Aslaksen, the printer and leader of the business class, in destroying the doctor's credibility so that his accusations of the dangerous water will never be believed by tourists, which would result in a prodigious financial loss for all. This quaint town is a representation of humanity's tendencies towards egoism. When money is involved, it doesn't matter what the risk is, regardless of physical injuriousness and potential loss of life. The springs symbolize technology and Dr. Stockmann stands for venerable human values. The technology has become prosperous for the townspeople but the same cannot be said for their morals that have been impeded by the rapid expansion of man's engineering. Ibsen unmistakably contends that this is distressing and disastrous. A return to strong ethics will prove to be a superior salvation for society rather than new and enhanced technology. Dr. Stockmann claims that "you are fighting for the truth [...] and that makes you strong" (124). Indeed, the truth will save lives and is better for all regardless of a temporary monetary forfeiture. Ibsen would prefer civilization to be morally robust with antiquated technology over a privation of man's ethos.

Sigmund Freud would be quick to agree that technology has not been a panacea for society. The underlying principles in Chapter III of Civilization and Its Discontents were a hotly contested topic in the online discussion. It is debatable as to whether Freud wanted a return to the days sans advanced technology but it is obvious that he is mostly displeased with how scientific improvements have influenced our lives. The author asserts that technology can never be a nostrum for humanity because it is not better than "the superior power of nature, [nor improves] the feebleness of our own bodies [......

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