The monster in the mirror

Later this week, I hope to consider the problem of truth, and also continue with arguments for compatibilism (or perhaps, as it’s shaping up, discussions concerning compatibilism). For now, a brief interlude.

The Edison Company’s short silent version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is, of course, artlessly stagey and over-acted by today’s standard. Clearly experimental, it is hardly as innovative as the films by Georges Melies that were being produced in France in the same era. Yet surprisingly, it is true to the thematics of the first half of Shelley’s novel in a way that later productions were not, perhaps partly because it is closer – temporally – to its source. At any rate, in an era when we are asking whether we can invent artificial intelligence that is closer to perfection of rational consciousness than we humans can hope to achieve, it may behoove us to look back at the question of whther it is a good idea to invent life itself – what could that mean, to bring life into the universe, distinctly unlike ourselves. Obviously, in ancient idioms this makes us gods. But what value is there in becoming god if the creation one is capable of, is by the nature of nature itself imperfect?

Why would any god make nature as it is – imperfect, victim to chance, productive of suffering, destined to some abrupt, unwanted end – unless god itself were by its own nature imperfect?

It is not enough to say we are all Frankenstein; not enough to say we are all Frankenstein’s monster; not even enough to say we are all gods. Perhaps we are all the mirror image of – what, we dare not say. But looking into that mirror is all we have.

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