Nineteen Eighty-Four or Brave New World?

Abstract

In both paradigm-shaping novels, the central issue is the human person: Is s/he an autonomous being, that is a “being-for-itself” (with apologies to Jean-Paul Sartre) endowed with free-will and the inherent power to organize and hence determine her/his future? Or, is s/he solely a physico-mechanical “object” whose ideas, thoughts, feelings and decisions are just by-products of her/his physico-chemical constitution, genetic configuration and environmental conditioning? From where does s/he draw the meaningfulness of her/his life? Or perhaps the more fundamental question is: Is her/his life meaningful at all? Is humanity’s future predetermined by material limitations in a closed system of reality or it depends on one’s choices and decisions in a reality that is open to the unhindered operation of her/his free will? Or, given that there is human free will, could the problem lie in the condition that the majority of human beings conduct their lives like sheep in a flock whose course is stirred, regulated and determined by the strong, the tough and the powerful minority among them? Are manipulation and control an inherent dynamic to make society orderly and organized, well-coordinated, well-managed and properly governed?

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