Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Quotes from "Brave New World Revisited"

These are selected quotations from  Brave New World Revisited.

"In the course of evolution nature has gone to endless trouble to see that every individual is unlike every other individual. [...] Physically and mentally, each one of us is unique. Any culture which,  in the  interests of efficiency or in the name of some political or religious dogma, seeks to standardize the human individual, commits an outrage against man's biological nature." p. 16-17

"Biologically speaking, man is a moderately gregarious, not a completely social animal --- a creature more like a wolf, let us say, or an elephant, than like a bee or an ant. In their original form human societies bore no resemblance to the hive or the ant heap; they were merely packs. Civilization is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social insects' organic communities. [...] However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can merely create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism, they will merely create a totalitarian despotism." p. 19

 "Fifty years ago, when I was a boy, it seemed completely self-evident that the bad old days were over, that torture and massacre, slavery, and the persecution of heretics, were things of the past. Among people who were top hats, traveled in trains, and took a bath every morning such horrors were simply out of the question. After all, we were living in the twentieth century. A few years later these people who took daily baths and went to church in top hats were committing atrocities on a scale undreamed of [...]." In the light of recent history it would be foolish to suppose that this sort of thing cannot happen again. It can, and no doubt it will."  p. 25-26

"With the best will in the world, we cannot always be completely  truthful or consistently rational. All that is in our power is to be as truthful and rational and circumstances permit us to be, and to respond as well as we can to the limited truth and imperfect reasoning offered for our consideration by others."   p. 27

"A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irreverent other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachment of those who would manipulate it and control it."    p. 29

"In real life, life as it is lived from day to day, the individual cannot be explained away. It is only in theory that his contributions appear to approach zero; in practice they are all important. When a piece of work gets done in the world, who actually does it? Whose eyes and ears do the perceiving, whose cortex does the thinking, who has the feelings that motivate, the will that overcomes obstacles? Certainly not the social environment; for a group is not an organism, only a blind unconscious organization. Everything that is done within a society is done by individuals."  p. 82


  1. tx for going to the trouble to excise these excerpts for the blog... true, every one of them, and illuminating, also... especially the last one; i'm sure i've said it before, but there are more than 6 billion universes on the face of this planet, but they rarely talk truth to each other...

    1. I like that thought, each of a universe in our heads..


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