Science and Human Values in Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents Throughout the centuries, society has been given men ahead of their time. These men are seen in both actual history, and in fictional accounts of that history. Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, and even Freud laid the framework in their fields, with revolutionary ideas whose shockwaves are still felt today. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and so society has also possessed those how refuse to look forward, those who resisted the great thinkers in science and civilization. The advancement of science and technology is like the flick of a light switch; research may be slow and tedious, but once discoveries are made, they are not long hidden. In contrast, advancement in the ideas of ethics and human values come slowly, like the rising of the sun; there are hints at advancement for a long time before the next step is ready to be made. Because of this, science and technology takes off in leaps and bounds before human values have awakened to find society moving again. This race between science and human values is a common theme in literature. Sigmund Freud discusses it in his essay Civilization and Its Discontents, bringing up themes later reflected in Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. In the more concrete story line of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People one finds intertwined this same conflict. It seems generally agreed that science and technology are winning in this race, at the expense of humanity. But there is less agreement as to just what to do about it, or what is needed to save humanity from its own scientific advances. Sigmund Freud breaks t... ...rson with the right balance of science and people skills can help slow science down and awaken the ideas of human values in people regarding scientific advances in human genetics. If human values are to keep up with scientific advancement, there needs to be not complacency but action. Freud saw both science and the search for happiness rooted in the outlet of energy from repressed instincts. The continual recharge of this energy promises to keep the race between these two forces going. As expressed in Ibsen's play, it seems the key to a thriving society is to let neither science nor human values get too far ahead. Works Cited: Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press,. 1954. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton, 1961. Ibsen, Henrik. An Enemy of the People. Dover Publications: New York, 1999.
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