The Philosophy of Gattaca

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The Philosophy of GATTACA
David Harris

21 August 2011

GATTACA is entertaining despite an immersion in technology and philosophy. Viewed strictly as entertainment, the film consistently delivers great characters, is well-written and has well-delivered dialogue, with a quick paced and fascinating plot. The philosophy of GATTACA's society is explored through examples of genetic essentialism/determinism, discrimination, and the exercise of free will through our characters early years, time as an invalid and later time as a valid. The film allows a glimpse into a world shaped by the technology of genetic engineering, that has artificially created a caste system of the valids verses the invalids, and how it can be overcome thru the exercise of free will.

From moments after his birth Vincent Freeman's (Ethan Hawke) future is set. "The product of love in the back seat of a car, he is what is known as a "god-child"" [ (N., 2009) ] In "a highly geneticized future, children are tested at birth, streamed in different occupations, and streamed out of others." [ (Berg, 2010) ] Vincent is tested immediately to determine what his genetics' predict for his future. He has a high probability of developing mental disorders, is myopic, has a heart defect, and his projected life expectancy is only 30.2 years. Vincent is now a member of the "invalid" class or caste. In GATTACA discrimination is not based on race, class, or gender ‘we had discrimination down to a science’; instead your genes determine where you end up in life. (Ellis, 2003) such is Vincent's lot in life. In contrast his younger brother, Anton, is genetically engineered. In GATTACA with “Children made to order… it is now possible to engineer your offspring” [ (Davies, 1997) ]. "The film is both fascinating and chilling because it demonstrates the power of human genetics to inform not only about what we are today, but also about what we might become." [ (Berg, 2010) ].

Vincent, "being a...
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