Philosophical Paper: Gattaca

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Michael Zaboski
HUM424
Week 7 Paper

Philosophical Paper: Gattaca

What will it be like in a not-so-distant future society where your life started with your parents designing your genes? After screening for unwanted genetic diseases, they select your sex, height, eye color, hair color, skin tone, and select from a menu of temperament, intelligence and occupational categories, all designed to place you in a clearly defined social class according to your degree of genetic enhancement. (Epstein) The film Gattaca, a 1997 science-fiction prediction directed by Andrew M. Niccol, serves as a pictorial essay of the struggles and conflicts that befall two opposite characters, one “superior” genetically engineered valid and one “inferior” natural born invalid. From the opening quote (a text from the bible, Ecclesiastes 7:13) “Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Niccol makes the inference that mankind, self-consumed in its own infinite wisdom, should not be tinkering with redesigning human organisms and serves as an early warning of unintended consequences of genetic engineering on society in the not too distant future. The director’s position on germ line engineering, the changing of genes in eggs, sperm, or very early embryos (organicconsumers.org) manifests itself in the physical, mental, and social challenges of the main character Vincent Freeman, who was born naturally into a society of genetically-altered “perfect” human beings. Scenes that depict the seeming never-ending struggles include Vincent constantly compared to his perfectly engineered brother Anton. The erasing (by Vincent) evidences the rivalry of height measurements on a yardstick as the siblings growth is charted by their parents. Another poignant element of this struggle between “good vs. evil” is played out in a swimming gamed called “chicken” in which the two brothers test each other’s stamina by swimming out into the ocean, the goal being to outlast...
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