In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley tries to convey the belief that every invention or improvement for the betterment of mankind is only an instrument for his ultimate destruction. We are, he said, on the horns of an ethical dilemma and to find the middle way will require all out intelligence and all out good will. This goes for all fields of life, medical, technical, social, etc. Not only in the book, but also in real life, one can see that this belief is evidently true.
A first example in the book is the process in which babies are born. The intricate fertilizing, decanting, and conditioning processes is directly used to produce and control a 5 caste system in society. Now, this is not a bad idea, other system is flawed. We see this in people like Bernard. An alpha is supposed to be at the top of society being well formed, tall, good looking and intelligent. Bernard however is somewhat shorter and less handsome than the rest of the men in his caste, and therefore is thought of as queer.
This inconsistency in the hatching system shows proof that the system is not completely safe or stable, and will in time produce more and more social rejects that can only lead to destroy the system. The conditioning process itself is also a good example of how innovation and progress can lead to the destruction of man. John got this in his belief that everyone, no matter how old, was an infant because of the conditioning systems. To truly mature, he thought, one must face suffering and constant cleansing (leading him to his time at the lighthouse).
The acceptance and use of the notion that society should be organized by the pleasures of the people is preposterous in that by only living for simple physical pleasure at whatever moment in time it may be, one is stripped of the ability to strive for long-range, true happiness. By breeding a complete society of infants with no concept of planning for a final goal can only end in destruction as it con not support itself if the hand that rocks the cradle, excuse the pun, would happen to waiver. Thirdly, in the book, the rationing and use of soma as a release for all people is a big red flashing light on the board of pending social disaster.
That would be like giving out heroin and syringes to high school students after finals so they can relax. It just makes no sense, especially when people are dying in the novel from such a stimulant. The use of soma produces a distant people not in touch with what is going on around them, that is if they could be after the conditioning process. To a totalitarian leader that is great since the people can not rebel but to the people itself, however unbeknownst, it is disastrous because they cannot advance themselves as a society or as individuals.
Furthermore, today, and supposedly not in the book, it is known that the use of such drugs will ultimately produce an effect converse to that desired. The over use of soma would actually, therefore, lead to a race of continually depressed, brain-dead people. A society as such can not survive its own mood swings in that situation. Evidence that Huxleys claim is true is also apparent in todays society. The general use, misuse, and abuse of tools such as the internet is one such piece of evidence.
The vast amount of knowledge and information to be found there is rendered all but useless as the majority of people use the internet as those in Brave New World would have, for simple present pleasure. Pornography, violence and other such things pollute the good that the internet can bring us. The overuse of the internet as a communicative tool can be somewhat harmful to us. Yes, it is a wonderful thing that anyone from anyplace can meet someone for some other place a the click of a button, but the internet has taken away much of the personal contact that makes talking and other forms of communication so fulfilling.
The tremendous advances in the field of medicine can also be viewed as a progression that will lead to regression. The huge advancements in disease prevention, detection, and treatment, immunization, and the like will prove to be one of the major keys in the downfall of the human race. As a society, we can already see what prices we are paying for these advancements. Vast overpopulation is a major problem in many of the countries around the world. With the baby that raised the worlds population to 6 billion, we see that we are living longer with a higher standard of living that would promote such growth.
Again, this pleasure found in this system can only last so long, as the population will grow to a point where it can no longer be supported with the available resources on the planet. The human race will be destroyed by its present ability to survive. Thirdly, the innovations made in technology can also be viewed as an instrument for mans ultimate destruction. For as many innovations that have already proven to be in the best interests of those who take advantage of them, there is an equal amount of innovations that have already proven to be destructive.
One such field of innovation is that of automobiles. So many things have been done to cars today to make them safer, airbags, side-impacts resistance beams, and so on. However, an equal number of innovations have been made to make cars have more power and go faster. Couple that with the widespread overuse of drugs and alcohol and it is clear that these such innovations are that of disaster. Huxleys claim that every innovation and improvement for the betterment of mankind is an instrument or his ultimate destruction is true.
One can see evidence supporting that claim not only in Huxleys dystopian novel, but also in todays society. Such things as baby hatching, infant conditioning, and the widespread use of soma in the book rendered everyone in that society an infant no matter how old they were. Today, we can see such destructive tendencies and patterns in the internet, the modern field of medicine, and biotechnology. The ethical dilemma that Huxley mentions is that of taking away some of the pleasures we have now to produce a greater, more lasting happiness in the future.