University of Pittsburgh, Fall Term 1998
Ben Eggleston, Instructor
Philosophy 0300—CRN 35193: Introduction to Ethics
mailbox: CL 1001—office: CL 1428E
Thursdays, 5:45 p.m. to 8:10 p.m., in CL 142
office hours: Tuesdays, 5:15–6:15, and Thursdays, 4:40–5:40

Huxley, Brave New World

I. Background Information

Aldous Huxley was born in England in 1894 and studied journalism and literature. His talent for social satire brought him early success, which was extended with the publication of Brave New World in 1932. In 1937, he moved to the United Stated, where he died in 1963.

Set far in the future, Brave New World depicts a society organized around the idea that the most important aim for a society to acheive is the happiness and contentment of the individuals within it. Although this aim sound harmless enough in the abstract, Huxley develops it in some surprising directions.

for October 22:

II. Reading Assignment

III. Study Questions

  1. Why are different types of embryos given different amounts of oxygen?
  2. What does the D.H.C. say is the secret of happiness and virtue?
  3. How are infant Deltas conditioned to dislike flowers and books?
  4. What does the D.H.C. say is “The greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time”?
  5. What do the D.H.C.’s students think of the idea of “living with one’s family”?
  6. What aspect of Henry’s behavior does Lenina have in mind when she says that he is “the perfect gentleman—always correct”?
  7. What event was chosen as the reference point for the measurement of time?
  8. What is soma?
  9. What is the cause of Bernard’s feeling of not fitting in?
  10. What is the cause of Helmholtz’s feeling of not fitting in?
  11. According to Henry, why don’t Epsilons minds being Epsilons?
  12. How does the experience of the Solidarity Service affect Bernard?
  13. When Bernard and Lenina first went out, what kind of freedom was Bernard talking about when he asked Lenina whether she wished she were free?
  14. What are a couple of the ways in which, according to the Warden, life on a savage reservation is different from what Bernard and Lenina are used to?
  15. Why does Bernard get so interested when John starts talking about his father?
  16. What are a couple of the aspects of life on the reservation that cause Linda to think the people there are “mad”?
  17. Why is Bernard so eager to take John and Linda to London?

IV. Suggestions for Further Reading

  1. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Harper, 1958) (Hillman circulating HM216 H986).
  2. Peter Edgerly Firchow, The End of Utopia: A Study of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1984) (Hillman circulating PR6015 U9B674 1984).
  3. Robert S. Baker, Brave New World: History, Science, and Dystopia (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990) (Hillman circulating PR6015 U9B6725 1990).

V. Outline of Topics to be Covered in Class

  1. Who was Huxley?
  2. utilitarianism
  3. stability
    1. heredity and conditioning
    2. “Everyone belongs to everyone else”
    3. consumption
    4. Ford
  4. characters and plot
    1. Lenina
    2. Bernard
    3. Bernard at the Solidarity Service
    4. Bernard and Lenina at the savage reservation

for October 29:

VI. Reading Assignment

VII. Study Questions

  1. What are a couple of the charges that the D.H.C. makes against Bernard when he announces his transfer to Iceland?
  2. How do small children get conditioned to take dying as a matter of course?
  3. What about Romeo and Juliet does Helmholtz find so absurd?
  4. What does Lenina think of John’s aspiration to prove himself worthy of her?
  5. What’s the last thing that Linda says (or starts to say) before dying?
  6. What does John do that he says will make the Deltas at the hospital free, whether they want to be or not?
  7. What happened in the experiment in which a society of Alphas was established?
  8. Why, according to the Controller, is Watson to be envied for his banishment to an island?
  9. What does the Controller mean when he says “Providence takes its cues from men”?
  10. How does John die?


VIII. Suggestions for Further Reading

See the suggestions for further reading for October 22, above.

IX. Outline of Topics to be Covered in Class

  1. characters and plot, continued
    1. John’s initial reaction to civilization
    2. Linda’s death
    3. John’s revolt
    4. John’s retreat
  2. integrity and degradation
    1. truth vs. happiness
    2. The Truman Show