When the reader is introduced to Rick in the beginning chapters of the novel, he and his wife are planning their day emotionally on a machine that they had brought. This machine is referred to in the novel as a Penfield mood organ. The mood organ is able to control all emotions from despair to one’s want to have sex. It is technology like the mood organ that is allowing humans to become desensitized to the world around them. Dick is toying with the idea that humans do not fully know or comprehend the consequences of the technology they are creating.
The ones who created the mood organ did not know that it would desensitize the user; they just wanted to assist in controlling emotional responses. The technology such as the Penfield mood organ is allowing a machine to create feelings for the user. Technology is now being used to experience emotions, when the notion is that machines cannot experience emotions. Dick creates a human character, Phil Resch that challenges the human/ non-human dynamics created inside of this society. When the reader is first introduced to Phil Resch he is working at a mysterious police station with androids posing as humans.
Resch is introduced in the setting after killing his boss, Garland, who was an android. Before Garland’s death, however he plants a seed in the head in Rick’s head, that Resch is an android with memories: “He doesn’t know; he doesn’t suspect; he doesn’t have the slightest idea. Otherwise he couldn’t live out a life as a bounty hunter, a human occupation- hardly an android occupation. ” (Dick 122). This statement by Garland put doubt in the narrator’s mind that Resch is a human, thereby making the reader also question Resch’s identity of human or non-human.
The reader will continue to question Resch’s identity until the Voight-Kampff test is administered. Resch is so emotionally numb and unable to experience empathy in the world around him; he comes off as an android. The only emotion expressed by Resch is the love for his pet squirrel: “I own an animal; not a false one but the real thing. A squirrel. I love the squirrel, Deckard” (Dick 128). This statement by Resch is an attempt to prove that he is not an android, because androids should not be able to care about anything other than themselves.
This human justification only lasts until Resch kills another android without any emotion. Resch enjoys killing androids it’s not just a means for making a living he likes doing it. Making it difficult for the reader to place him as either a human or an android. At the end of Resch’s appearance, he finally takes the Voigt-Kampff profile test providing Rick and the reader with the knowledge that he is human. Dick uses Phil Resch as a pawn in the novel; he was created for the reader to question which category he belongs to.
Dick uses Resch to allow the reader to see the distorting of human and non-human lines and how easily they are to cross. In Dick’s novel, the androids are learning to experience empathy, which would qualify them as humans within the context of the novel. Rachael Rosen is the prime example of the human/non-human lines being inaudible. Rachael has the physical appearance of a human, just as all of the other androids in the novel. Rachael was not able to pass the VoigtKampff profile test, classifying her as an android.
Rick does not retire/kill her, however, because her uncle convinces him she is a human with a dulled ability to experience empathy. Which is completely viable inside of the world Dick creates. This is not true, Rachael is an android only, and she does not know that she is anything other than human. She truly believes that she is a detached human, because that is what she was brought up being taught by her family members. Rachael was nurtured into believing that she is human and she was even given false memories, which would take away any doubts she has experienced about her humanity.
Meaning she can remember being young and growing up, she can recall the proper way to act human, because she has been socialized into believing that is what she is. As is made clear in this scene, however believing that you are human is not always enough, because Rachael cannot experience the proper emotions. Rachael is able to experience some form of empathy near the end of the novel. She kills Rick’s goat to get even with Rick for killing Prim, Roy, and Irmgard. One of the arguments against androids being considered humans is that they cannot not feel or understand feelings.
Professor Jefferson stated in 1949: “Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely artificially signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when its valves fuse, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by its mistakes, be charmed by sex, be angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants.
Rachael disproves Professor lefferson’s reasoning, because she experiences empathy for her fellow androids and wants to take revenge on Rick for retiring them. Rachael’s discomfort about retiring the other androids becomes clear in the hotel scene between Rick and her. She becomes physically bothered by one of the androids being the same model as she is. Meaning that one of the androids about to be killed looks exactly like her. This makes it easy for Rachael to relate herself to the other androids and even experience empathy for them.
Which is something that should not be able to occur: “An android,” he said, “doesn’t care what happens to another android. That’s one of the indications we look for” (Dick 101). Rachael, however, does care about what happens to those androids; she even sleeps with Rick as a way of convincing him not to go through with the murders. When this did not work she went after something she knew he cared about, this being his real living goat. Rachael was fully aware of how Rick felt towards living animals from the excitement he experienced in the Rosen Association building when he saw the owl and also the advance release of the Sidney’s catalogue.
This is why she goes after something he cared about in order to hurt him as he has hurt her. How can Rachael be able to experience these emotions if she is an android? Rachael is a rare case of android that is beginning to break down the human/non-human wall. She breaks all of the rules that have been set in place; she is an android with the ability to experience a sense of empathy. As the theory of posthumanism predicts, what it means to be human has changed through the growth of technology. When it comes to defining what it means to be human, there is no clear definition nor has there ever been one.
Philip K. Dick creates an entire novel addressing the effects of the technology that has been created. In Dick’s novel the line between what is considered human and what is not is no longer presents. The androids in Dick’s novel now can meet the criteria classifying them as humans. Throughout the theory of posthumanism and the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? we learn that”… electric things have their lives too. ” (Dick 241). So it is possible for androids to become the new humans.