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Journal Prompt #1

on Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:34 am
Journal Prompt #1

1. Explain the existentialist concept of existence before essence. Apply this concept to characters in the novel. With this in mind, do the Nexus-6 androids “exist” and what is their essence composed of?

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Bill Guo
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Bill's naive thoughts

on Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:43 pm
Existentialists hold the belief that existence precedes essence, which means that individuals are born with self-consciousness instead of a pre-determined purpose. It is people’s consciousness which lead them to create a personal values and to seek for the meaning of their lives. This rule is only meaningful to human beings. It could be a way how one set the boundary between humans and androids.
Applying this concept to characters in the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, we can identify whether the character is a human being who creates his own meaning in life or an android who is born with an essence. Take the main character Rick Deckard as an example, his interactions with others reveal that he was born without an essence. For instance, when Rachel tried to bribe him with the owl, Rick hesitated for a long time. The hesitation shows that Rick wasn’t pre-decided to follow instructions from his leader Bryant. Instead, he could make decisions according to his own benefits. Besides, when he was obsessed with pretty androids, he compared his wife with them. People in this world could choose who them want to fall in love with. Tracing back to the beginning of the novel, Rick would give suggestions to his wife about which kind of mood she should order. Though it would be complicated to make a complex mood, one is still free to choose their attitude and essence.
Androids, however, seem to be programmed with an essence. For example, Rachel would claim that it was disgusting to boil dogs and eat them even though she doesn't truly feel sorry for the poor animals. Since human beings are forced to own an animal, they gradually cultivate their moral value of being empathetic toward tragedies. An android like Rachel which has never raised an animal is born with an essence of demonstrating its empathy without learning the value of showing empathy to others. Thus, they don’t exist if they considered themselves as human beings. In addition, Nexus-6 androids’ essence is also composed of self-protecting. For example, Rachel would make contact with its enemy Rick and offer him help so that itself might be prevented from being retired. The android Polokov pretended to be a worker in the factory as well as an agent from the Soviet Union to hide itself from the searches. The third android Miss luft even managed to call the police to keep itself from the bounty hunter.
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John Isidore's purpose by Richard.C

on Mon Mar 26, 2018 10:17 pm
I deeply believe in Existentialiam. I consider existentialist point of view to be the progression of human perception of thier lives. Indeed, every human beings are not designated for something before they were born. Those who say we do instead, might be over exaggerating the importance of inherent factors in our lives. Yes, I do admit that a child born in a family in which father is a lawyer and mother is an educator tend to be more well-behaved and more probable of living a middle-class-or-above life rather than a child grows up in the most dangerous hood in Chicago. But the power of predestination is limited anyhow. For decades we’ve used social research to prove the fact that efforts are more important than talent. A child would still pursue art and music instead of medicine and law in the previous case if he or she continually being exposed in artistic environment. A gehetto boy would still do good if school teachers privide the right guidance. It is the experience we went through gradaully form who we are and what we are willing to pursue, inherent factors only count as minor part. Hence I see no reason why essence do exist. We are to determine our own fate and pursue.
      John Isidore, for example, would be a perfect one to illutstrate. Under post WWT environment, John is a chickenhead that gets mentally and physically worse everyday. He seems to struggle with life but has no power to change it. Because his intellectual disability, he feel into the self-criticizing dilemma. Everyday he woke up, he perceives the world full of abhor, he thought that everybody would laugh at him if he get interacted with the society. He perceves himself as a unsuitable live that lingers on this inhabitable planet. He feels desperately useless and meaningless. But things changed drastically. With the show up of Pris Stratton, Isidore got super elated and his identity of being a social human has been re-evoked. Every smile and approval of his unprecedented neighbor would be like a huge existantial reason for him. Not to mention the appraisement of the convenience that he has brought. His cause for life seems to be satisfying every need of his neighbor now. Another newly emerged existential reason is related to his job. Afer successfully solving an phone call crisis and being appraised by his boss and colleague, he find himself a higher worth. Thus another existential reason is beinga added—that is to paly up to his boss and do his job better. We could conclude that for John Isidore, every approval and praise means tremendous to him because of his self-absed nature. Wouldn't people believe in essence claim that such a chicken head as Isidore could be no use ? They are wrong in some extent. Getting all these positive feedback is his existential reason.
  If one has read through the whole novel, one would find that the androids' essence are clearly seen , that is to eliminate humans that pose threat to them and in that way, they could live freely. But so far, it seems that Nexus-6 do not “exist” by defintion because they have not demonstrate an identifiable existential reason as some human characters do such as Rick and Buster Friendly . They are merely being depicted as a highly human-like robotic creature with the programed job of serving human, but they do not possess a deeply structured essence mentality.
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What really makes Androids lack empathy? By Elaine. W.

on Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:49 pm
Rachael Rosen is so far known as a sophisticated and well-designed Android, and her personal essence changed subtly but deeply after her realization of her true identity.
Rachael Rosen first shows up in Chapter Four as the niece of Eldon Rosen, the boss of the Rosen Association. In the beginning, she was characterized as an extremely professional girl who works in Rosen Association. Whereas, after Rick did Voigt-Kampf test on her in Chapter Five, she was determined by Rick as an Android. To avoid being recognized by Rick, Rachael Rosen was cautious when answering her questions. Though she asked about every detail before answering Rick’s questions, she still got recognized due to her short pause before her propriety reaction in her final question. After Rachael found out that she was an Android, realized that her memory was planted by Rosen Association, and figured out that she wasn’t supposed to be on Earth technically, Rachael’s attitude changed. Instead of escaping from Rick, she offered help to “retire” Androids with Rick voluntarily, probably aimed to avoid being “retired” before Rick’s other targets.
Rachael’s essence changed at the moment when her identity was brought into the light by Rick. Before that moment, Rachael knew that she was an Android and everything she did was to avoid being caught. Her goal was simple and pure: to maintain her fake cover as a human, and her enemy and allies were clear: Rick was her enemy and Rosen Association was her shelter and she would do anything it takes. However, after she was identified as an Android, her essence became twisted and she began to play on both sides. On one hand, she still wanted to maintain her cover as an Android and had back up from Rosen Association, so she didn’t even have the idea to escape from the Rosen Association and began her tramp like most Androids who escaped from the Mars to the Earth did. On the other hand, she wanted Rick as the second guarantee of her life, thus, she offered help to Rick to retire other Androids. Since she knew that she was an Android, she immediately gave up her empathy. In her opinion, it was beneficial to exchange other Androids’ “life” for her safety.
In this book, the author makes a setting that Androids don’t have empathy. However, Rachael, being an Android all the time, showed her likeliness of having empathy first, but she gave up her empathy later. Thus, it’s arguable that whether the identity of Androids made them lack empathy or the acknowledgment of being Androids made them give up the opportunity to chase for their ability to have empathy.
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Emapthy and utilitarism

on Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:39 pm
Spectacular work from both Richard and Elaine!Continuing the discussion from Elaine and Richard,the focus of this superficial comment would be on how empathy and utilitarism correlate.Not necessarily equivalent to utilitarian,this term actually means that the society should operate in a state that everyone has highest utility.The essence of this notion is that the rich shall reallocate their wealth to the poor ,owing to the surge of utility in the poor is more considerable that that of the rich,given the same unit of wealth.This version of value towards the world applies perfectly in the novel as well as real life.Just by treating John Isidore as a normal individual could restore his confidence towards the world.In contrast, esteeming magnate as elite on top might not even make their smile a bit wider. Hence,showing empathy could bring merits for both yourselves and the needy.Why not go for it?Though we are not sure whether android would evolve on this path,granting empathy to the needy is 'omni-beneficial',in whatever aspects.Then,a question arise.Is empathy still going to serve a metric to distinguish humans and androids?(negligent of technical and evolutional diffiiculty).Let's see what the rest of chapters may unveil to us.
Miles.W
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Concept of Existentialism in Context by Miles.W

on Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:18 pm
When we discuss “existentialism,” we will usually think of “essentialism,” which is the opposite of “existentialism.” The concept of “essentialism” that essence precedes existence is different from “existentialism,” “Essentialism” might be proper to be applied on objects, which usually exist for some determined purpose or the so-called “essence.” For example, the knife that the soldiers use on the battlefield would not exist with meaning if it loses its blade, which is its essence. However, when we come to the subject of human, which is way more complicated because we possess the subjective consciousness. Human beings firstly exist in the world without the determined fate; we would seeking the reason for our living as we grow up.
As we discuss the philosophical concept in the context of the book, we should first clarify or at least make an assumption on the proposition that whether an android is something that is equally complicated as a human. If we put our view on the “Nexus 6” type of the android, the reply would probably be “yes.” We could find that their intellectual degree has reached the level of human’s. They are trying to find the essence for themselves. In the confession of Luba Luft, she stated that she had always been imitating human beings. She said in chapter twelve: “Ever since I got here from Mars my life has consisted of imitating the human doing what she would do...as far as I’m concerned, a superior life form.” Being an almost-human-like android, Luba’s essence is to be a complete human. This purpose should be generated after she was produced. This is corresponding to the concept of existence precedes essence.
Miles.W
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Concept of Existentialism in Context by Miles.W

on Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:19 pm
When we discuss “existentialism,” we will usually think of “essentialism,” which is the opposite of “existentialism.” The concept of “essentialism” that essence precedes existence is different from “existentialism,” “Essentialism” might be proper to be applied on objects, which usually exist for some determined purpose or the so-called “essence.” For example, the knife that the soldiers use on the battlefield would not exist with meaning if it loses its blade, which is its essence. However, when we come to the subject of human, which is way more complicated because we possess the subjective consciousness. Human beings firstly exist in the world without the determined fate; we would seeking the reason for our living as we grow up.
As we discuss the philosophical concept in the context of the book, we should first clarify or at least make an assumption on the proposition that whether an android is something that is equally complicated as a human. If we put our view on the “Nexus 6” type of the android, the reply would probably be “yes.” We could find that their intellectual degree has reached the level of human’s. They are trying to find the essence for themselves. In the confession of Luba Luft, she stated that she had always been imitating human beings. She said in chapter twelve: “Ever since I got here from Mars my life has consisted of imitating the human doing what she would do...as far as I’m concerned, a superior life form.” Being an almost-human-like android, Luba’s essence is to be a complete human. This purpose should be generated after she was produced. This is corresponding to the concept of existence precedes essence.
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Thoughts about Existentialism

on Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:11 am
Existentialism believes that existence exists before essence. In the novel, androids have bodies similar to humans but their memories are set by the companies who produce them. Therefore existence doesn't mean born with meaning of life. The androids don't have their own identity, or understanding of life and existence. Existentialism believes that human create their own meaning of life during the process of existence. But androids are not the same as humans as their essence isn't created by themselves. This is an important difference between androids and humans besides lacing empathy.
Actually at this point is the difference between intelligence and consciousness. The androids are somewhat smarter than humans as described in the novel. They know how to pretend themselves as humans, like Polokov does. And they could even almost past the empathy test, like Rachael Rosen. But their consciousness of themselves or life is all formed after their plantation of long-term memories. However, as androids' intelligence grows to a certain degree, they would begin to find their own life essence. The separation between intelligence and consciousness is diminished once the intelligence reaches a certain level. The androids start to reject the meaning of life what was designed for them, this may be an important step of them to become a real human. They begin to develop subjective consciousness according to their own feeling and knowledge. This is corresponding to the existentialism because their essence is created after their existence.
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