Monday, February 27, 2012

Frankenstein's Paradox: Creator vs. Creation

  So, my favorite book is Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. (Classic book, by the way, and one of the most thought-provoking things I personally have ever read. I highly suggest it to anyone who hasn’t read it.) I was thinking about it the other day, and began pondering one of the questions it raises for me: does a creator owe something to his creation, or does he have the right to do what he wishes with him? I haven’t made up my mind yet, so I’m gonna think this out as I write.
  Now, obviously, though Frankenstein was what got me thinking about this, this is easily applicable to many other situations, not the least of which is the idea of religion. I myself am agnostic, but my friend Jason, a co-founder of this blog and a Christian, believes firmly that he must and shall follow the decrees of God because God, as his creator, has the right to dictate what he should and shouldn’t do. I don’t doubt that many other theists, if not most, think the same way. Maybe another relevant situation is parents who have unplanned children. But I’ll stick with the story of Frankenstein. As the tale goes, for those who don’t know (no real spoilers here), Victor Frankenstein creates a sentient and intelligent monster and brings him to life, only to find himself disgusted by it. He abandons the monster, and chaos ensues. So the question is, is that Frankenstein’s right, or has the monster been wronged?
  While torn, I find it at least a little unsettling to think that Frankenstein can do as he wishes with the monster because he created it when it didn’t ask him to do so in the first place. Frankenstein features a quote from Paradise Lost by John Milton on the title page saying the same: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay,/ To mould me Man, did I solicit thee/ From darkness to promote me?” I mean, it didn’t ask to be brought to life, right? If anything, I’d think that Victor would owe it a decent life, at least, if he’s just going to go around willy-nilly creating life where there wasn’t any before.
  Of course, the other side of the argument is pretty compelling, too. Namely, since the monster would not even have been in existence if Frankenstein had not created it, he can’t possibly have any responsibility towards it, right? Anything that he deems his creation worthy of and gives it should be seen as a privilege, because that’s something that the creation would not have had if the creator had not deemed it worthy or had not wanted to give it. It may seem slightly callous, but it is quite difficult to argue with, since the argument against it would involve the proposition of certain inalienable rights which everyone possesses from the beginning of their existence, and people of the school of thought that the creator has full rights would argue that these “inalienable rights” were GIVEN by the creator in the first place, so he MUST have the ability and right to take them away if he so chooses. Their logic isn’t faulty, as far as I can see.
  It seems to me that neither side is wrong, and it’s simply a matter of perspective. In the end, I think that a creator owes their creation everything they would want for themselves, since it’s always better to err on the side of good. Inalienable rights may be a fallacy, but they’re worth respecting regardless. *Shrugs* Just my two cents. 

File:Frontispiece to Frankenstein 1831.jpg
-Adarsh Nednur

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