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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Essay Example

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Ali Moses [Name of Instructor] [Course] [Date] Defining Human in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, a dystopic narrative involving humans and androids set in a post-apocalyptic scenario, was first published in 1968 in the United States by Doubleday…
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Download file to see previous pages... What it is to be human is a recurring dilemma that the characters in Do Androids Dream? try to make sense of; and through their actions and the plot itself, the author and readers also navigate this problem. Reaction to the world around them, specifically the display of empathy, is seemingly the most definitive marker of the “humanness” of human beings. However, one finds that by the end of Do Androids Dream?, this assumption has been turned around on its head and back again many times over. Rather than provide an easy template of humanity for us to accept, Dick uses this novel to instead ask the right questions. The most obvious and repeated assumption is that empathy is what differentiates humans from “andies” – i.e. androids or humanoid robots that have been created in the post-apocalyptic setting of the novel to help in the process of emigration of humans to Mars. This is reflected in the popular religion: “Mercerism”, the foundation of which lies on an empathetic worldview and the acceptance of collective experience. Even humans who are relegated to the fringes of society because of their low IQ – “chickenheads” or “antheads” – also accept this view of the world. ...
Isidore’s need for companionship runs so deep that even though he recognizes that the renegade andies are exploiting him when they take cover in his apartment he lets them stay and even tries to protect them from the bounty-hunter. The androids themselves recognize this quality as that elusive human quality that they cannot achieve. Roy Baty, the leader of the rebel androids, despite his scornful demeanor reveals his longing to experience this at several times, exulting ultimately when Mercerism is declared a fraudulent belief system. Empathy-testing is also the most practical way of detecting androids and “retiring” or killing them before they can pose any harm to the humans remaining on Earth. As later revealed by Deckard’s rival bounty-hunter Philip Resche, tests other than the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test, are not nearly as successful in identifying androids. This then is the dominant narrative: Humans empathize, androids do not. However, this statement is not as uncomplicated as it may seem. Firstly, there is the question of being able to duplicate this kind of empathy. As the testing of Rachael Rosen in the first instance proves, even Deckard, for a while, is unable to recognize Rachael as an android when he is fed the story about her having been raised on another planet and therefore being not too adept at empathizing with other humans. Deliberate manipulation of the empathy test can also be done by prevaricating, like in Luba Luft’s case. Luft, who is an android, deliberately refuses to answer questions directly to prevent the test from giving accurate results. Secondly, there is also the question of inherent anomalies in this testing system. As Deckard’s boss, Bryant, warns him at the start of his quest for the six ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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