21st September 2018

2.5 Perspectives Speech

Broaden knowledge on the idea of scientific exploration explored this year. Construct and deliver a seminar (discussion on a topic) on the idea of scientific exploration, explore the two differing perspectives of Victor Frankenstein and John Locke. This means evaluating the differences between the two perspectives and expressing my own view on which perspective I believe is correct (John Locke).

Structure Plan:

Victor and Scientists vs repercussions John Locke and Rest of Society                                  *   Use Frankenstein and John Locke’s essay to springboard into the wider idea of scientific exploration.  ✔️                                                                                                              *    Present both sides of the argument evenly, do not veer towards Locke as this is bias, wait for body 3.  ✔️                                                                                                                            *   Metaphor, similes, imagery, emotive and connotative language to subliminally send messages.  ✔️                                                                                                                                      *   Third Person Perspective, looking in through my eyes on both sides of the conflicting perspectives evenly:  ✔️                                                                                               *   Introduction – Captivate the audience, introduce the idea of scientific exploration.  Introduce Frankenstein’s perspective initial society or John Locke’s perspective. ✔️         *  Frankenstein’s Perspective – Explain his beliefs, point of view on scientific exploration and reasonings, with evidence via quotes   ✔️                                                      *   Locke/ Society’s Perspective – Explain his beliefs established in his essay, his established viewpoint on scientific exploration, with evidence via quotes from his essay.   ✔️                                                                                                                                          *    Comparing and expressing my view and the conclusion: Evaluate the comparisons and conflicting beliefs of Frankenstein and Locke, express my own view on where I stand within this conflict and introduce broader ideas relating to modern day scientific exploration.  ✔️                                                                                                                *   Explain how I view the idea of exploring dangerous scientific knowledge, that we shouldn’t or don’t need to understand everything that is unknown to humanity and what we fear may threaten our existence.  ✔️                                                                          *    Summarise the conflict, sending a final message to leave the audience and conclude with something memorable. ✔️ Speech is 8:42.66 minutes long

Curiosity and fear, they run through our wires. Emotions which have coursed through our complex networks since the beginning of time, two powerful surges of electricity, one driving us forwards, the other pushing us backwards.

Scientific exploration is a result of human curiosity to explore the unknown. However, this desire is checked by the unpleasant sensation of fear, the fear for the negative consequences of discovering what should be left untouched. Scientists and explorers often believe that newfound knowledge will cause us, as a species, to grow stronger or more powerful, this desire typically overpowering any fears or risks of endangering human existence.

Curiosity to explore the outer limits of the unknown and the fear that objectifies this tendency are two key ideas expressed in the novel Frankenstein. Initially, through Victor’s eyes, success in artificially forming life from the leftovers of death will be a plausible service to mankind, believing that by venturing through the depths of uncharted knowledge he will be perceived as a hero.

English Philosopher John Locke opposes Victor’s initial beliefs, indirectly detesting to the ideas and motives expressed by Victor. In Locke’s eyes, scientific exploration needs limits, that some dangerous and undiscovered knowledge should merely remain as a curiosity and shouldn’t be chased into reality. Today, I will be discussing these two contrasting perspectives on scientific exploration and will be expressing my personal opinion on which side I agree with.

During the beginning of the novel, Victor expresses an immense desire and optimism for reanimation stating that “life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source…”

Alongside satisfaction for fulfilling his curious desires, he also believes that he will gain power, respect, and praise by creating a new species, this belief being common among scientists wishing to push the limits of science.

In a period of rapid change in scientific development, Victor aspired to become part of history and simply underestimated the outcomes of success. Mistakes are part of being human, only Victor’s mistake was at a larger scale. After all, haven’t all of us made mistakes which we wished were reversible?  

I know, like me, most of you probably disagree with Victor’s ignorant and unconventional beliefs. However, I believe there is some level of truth to Victor’s claims. Without pushing the limits of knowledge, humanity wouldn’t get anywhere, society wouldn’t have developed to where we are now and we may be stuck living within ancient civilizations or even worse, musty old caves.

The enlightenment period during the 18th and 19th century was the ‘hay day’ of newfound scientific knowledge and proved that what is dark and ominous must be enlightened. Without enlightenment, we wouldn’t have most of the various discovered concepts and inventions that we are so familiar with in our day and age.

For example, when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the world was cautious and concerned that this may be a dangerous and risky discovery, electricity being a deadly concept to meddle with. However, this scientific breakthrough turned out to be a major turning point for the improvement of human life.

In order for our species to develop, we mustn’t be unafraid of giving in to our curious desires or we would have forever remained surrounded by darkness. Our torches need sparks to ignite into flames so that the darkness fades away with each burning ember, so we may venture into enlightenment.

Exploring and understanding the acquisition of knowledge is an idea emphasized in John Locke’s essay “Concerning Human Understanding”. Particularly in the introduction, Locke highlights the necessity of limits to guide how confident we allow ourselves to be that our various opinions and theories, which we have no certain knowledge of, are correct and how much unknown knowledge should, or needs to be, understood.

Through his essay, Locke hopes to succeed in “persuading the busy mind of man to be more cautious… and to be peacefully reconciled to ignorance of things that turn out to be beyond the reach of our capacities.” He asks why… why are we so certain that newfound scientific discoveries, which we merely just guess and judge whether they are beneficial, will help us. In his eyes, there are “limitations that we should accept” and that we should “rest content with knowing only what our human condition enables us to know.”

We already have everything we need on our plates, we have the conveniences of life needed to survive and thrive, so why do we need to push for more. Locke effectively uses an analogy to compare knowledge to a vast ocean which we feel obligated to explore. Its purpose is to provide a visual of how far our knowledge can safely extend to before our muscles tire and we drown. Where is the horizon of this endless ocean, what marks the boundary when enough is enough?

The enlightenment period invited humanity to rationalize our beliefs surrounding the world around us and look towards science, this period causing many to question their faith in religion. Fear for what might come out of these daring discoveries was common during the enlightenment era. Fear and the risk of danger acts against curiosity and holds us back from making severe mistakes.

Overall, Locke believes that, in an age of rapid discoveries, limits of scientific exploration are necessary, that not some things should remain in the dark and that humanity should be fearful of the potential dangers of scientific exploration as we venture into an artificial future.

In terms of sides, I have chosen to stand with Locke, who has some very valid points which I believe must be recognised and applied to the modern era. I disagree with Victor’s perspective because he made a lot of naive, ignorant and selfish decisions and any risks weren’t outweighed by any benefits. Yes, scientific exploration is important and necessary, but Locke is accurate in affirming that certain boundaries must be implemented to protect humanity from facing any disastrous consequences. I believe that yes, Victor should be blamed for his foolish actions, but he isn’t the only person who holds these foolish beliefs. He stands by many ambitious minds determined to be the first to discover risky revelations within the field of science.

Genetic modification, anti-ageing and artificial intelligence are now a reality in today’s world, proving that there are many Victor’s out there who are at risk of making the same mistakes. What will be the consequences for us as a race? We have all seen the disastrous outcomes of such actions play out on film and television. Terminator, The Matrix, Black Mirror, West World and Jurassic Park, just to name a few. All of the mentioned come as warnings of how dangerous scientific exploration can be, warning us not to walk off of the edge of the cliff that we didn’t even know was there.

We continue to explore and push the limits of science to become more powerful, smarter and more capable because we fear that we may be inferior to other unknown lifeforms. However, though this curious tendency is a necessary emotion, it becomes dangerous when it leads to the creation of what we fear the most, when it leads us wandering over the edge. Why are we not more afraid?

In summary, I have discussed the contrasting perspectives of Victor Frankenstein and John Locke surrounding scientific exploration and have explained why I, personally, side with Locke who believes limits must be implemented when one pursues undiscovered knowledge. 
Humanity must learn to cope with just sitting with the curious urge to pour light into the dangerous darkness and focus on discovering knowledge that helps us, and not destroys us. Thank You.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Lucas,

    You have some strong ideas in here and some wonderful moments of expression.

    I would like to see you strengthen some of your reflections around the impact that your topic could have on society. You would be wise to weave this throughout your speech more and touch on the society that surrounded the two texts and perspectives you are discussing.

    You have some great vocabulary choices in this script. I would advise you to work on developing some of the written and sound devices. You can find suggestions for this on the task handout.

    Mrs. P

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