the frankenstein problem

20180322_TNA54FohtbannerBrendan P. Foht at The New Atlantis:

There are few novels that have been more interpreted and re-­imagined than Frankenstein, and it has become something of a cliché in ­bioethics — especially in debates about embryo research and reproductive ­technologies — to invoke Victor Frankenstein’s hubris in “playing God” by creating a person out of inanimate matter. And yet, reading the story again two hundred years after its publication, we find that its moral teachings have been stubbornly ignored, or even inverted, by the scientists and ethicists who have the most to learn from it.

As a starting point for thinking about the counterintuitive place of the novel in contemporary discourse about technology and ethics, consider a 2012 essay by the French sociologist of science Bruno Latour, “Love Your Monsters,” in which he argues that the real lesson of the novel is that “we must care for our technologies as we do our children.” According to Latour, “Dr. Frankenstein’s crime was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself,” referring to the moment in the story when Frankenstein runs in horror, without good reason, from the creature he has made.

more here.