Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a novel that covers Phillip Dick’s analysis of the human state and his pursuit to retire six androids. The story trails John Isidore based on a post-apocalyptic future. The movie Blade Runner assumes the same story line as the novel. The difference between the two is that the movie fails to differentiate whether Deckard is a human or a replicate. The settings revolve around world war terminus, which leaves the earth destroyed by extreme radiation. Animals are either endangered or extinct, thus making them a symbol of wealth and status due to their scarcity.
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Androids escape from Mars earth to avoid thralldom from human beings. Unfortunately, upon reaching the earth, the Androids have to be exterminated because they defy human logic. Dick tries to show the significance of being empathetic coupled with how this factor might be crucial in determining if someone is treasured as a living being. However, this thesis suggests that human activities will lead to the decay of the world and cause degeneration because people have lost the value for human life.
Dick’s analogy about being human
Dick’s reflection about being human entails having inherent attribute of empathy. Dick develops much sympathy toward the evolving sociopolitical spectrum, which he sees as trying to do anything possible for personal interests. The wellbeing of all humankind has lost meaning and understanding of what is life coupled with the attributes of being human, which have become blurred. Dick’s adventure with the Androids allows him to learn that they show empathy too, while human beings entirely lack empathy in some cases. This realization leads to the alteration of Dick’s conception about humans and in particular himself.
The novel was written at the peak of the counter cultural revolutionary times coupled with events that confused Dick further, thus making it hard for him to mark the boundaries between what one referred to as real and unreal. Androids are in a position to develop empathy with each other just the same way humankind establishes empathy with fellow humans.
The only way to differentiate androids from humanity without doubt is screening their bone marrow sample (Dick, 1968). This aspect implies that the world is constantly experiencing decay and it is evolving through stages that humanity has designed, but it might not be in a position to reverse the situation.
Individual as opposed to collective
The theme of individualism overrides the pursuit for empathy amongst humans in the decaying world. For instance, Rick’s personal desire to gain social status by owning a real animal makes him to prioritize a misplaced sense of empathy. His desire to demonstrate social worth implies decay of humanity. This assertion holds because he lacks empathy for the electric sheep that he owns or the androids, which he kills in a bid to earn a real animal. In addition, the desire to foster individualism comes out when the Rosen Association seeks to clone Androids that take after human beings in a desperate move to ensure capitalism perpetuity.
The company is ready to do everything to protect the company from decline even if it means killing the bounty hunters who destroy the androids. This competition to survive economically erodes the value for human life. Humanity should co-exist in a bid to survive the degrading world that they occupy. The theological idea of the novel, which is referred to as mercerism, comes up to join humans in a collective sense of sympathy to enhance their own survival. These themes explain the dangers of capitalistic system and they persuade humanity to seek a socialist economy that embraces value for human life (Dick, 1968).
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Contrasting androids from human
The novel gives the reader the impression that humans are not different from the Androids. The only difference is that humans seek to dominate the earth by taking control of animals. Ironically, as humans seek to preserve the disappearing animals, they hunt and kill androids at the same time. Humans behave this way in a bid to stay unique and control other beings on earth. The capitalist economy has brought conflicting competition amongst people. According to Dick (1968), some human beings feel threatened by androids who have become more of humans. On the other side, other human beings are busy designing evolved androids.
These conflicting interests make human beings to appear as machines since they do not show collectivity of humanity and empathy for each other. The androids are organized as they show concern for each other’s life. This aspect implies that the humanity’s failure to show collectivity might lead the loss of their control to the products of the activities that they undertake.
Even though Rick retires all the six androids, he eventually learns that they are also empathetic. His perception about all living things changes and he realizes that just like humans, androids have the capability to survive. The novel gives an insight on what the future holds for humanity due to the decaying world, which has gone to a state of losing control. The author shows the effects of the American popular culture and the struggle brought in by the capitalist system.
The movie, Blade Runner, by Ridley Scott raises the question of what makes humans different from androids. They both appear to possess the attributes of humanity like empathy and compassion for each other.
The technological advancements such as cloning and making of androids are leading to unforeseen trap doors for human beings are trying to take control over other living things. This desire for superiority has led to capitalism, which is causing humans to seek control over fellow humans, thus accelerating decay of the world around them. In the movie, Ridley fails to show the difference between the humans and the replicates, hence implying that human control is declining.
Dick’s view of humanity is ambiguous. Dick is aware of his skill and intelligence to retire androids whereas he is afraid that this ability could be taken from him by imminent dangers that eclipse the world. His intelligence is contrasted with the mental weakness of those who fall victims of the effects of degeneration. Those who are weak in the system are referred to as ‘chickenheads’ like John Isidore.
They occupy the periphery in the societal structure, by only surviving under the mercies of the influential beings that own and control the systems of production. This aspect shows the hypocrisy that defines the future where by on one side humans pretend to pursue value for human life and sympathy for all, while on the other side they demonstrate social divide where some people are more important than others (Dick, 1968).
The book and the film focus on the decaying world. The world is decaying world because everyone is struggling to survive in conditions that humans have created. The two versions present a scenario where humans will have two choices, viz. either to migrate from earth to the new colony Mars or risk degeneration. Even though the texts leave several questions unanswered, the reader is in a position to generalize that humans are developing systems and products to use as they please, but the repercussions are degenerative and counter productive.
Dick, P. R. (1968). Do androids dream of electric sheep? London, UK: Rapp & Whiting.