The Philosophy of "The Sirens of Titan"

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Betty nguyen
December 2nd, 2009
The philosophy of “The Sirens of Titan”
Although The Sirens of Titan is a non-fiction book, it points out several of philosophies about life. The Sirens of Titan follows Malachi Constant, the richest and luckiest man in the 22nd century, whose bizarre and random journeys take him from Earth to Mars to Mercury, and finally to the Saturn moon of Titan, where he learns a painful and absurd truth about the history of humanity. In the book, Kurt Vonnegut employs characters’ lives to reflect his idea about a balance of humanism and existentialism that helps people create their own meaning of life. His book is a complex system of ideas and philosophies which relates to that in some political essays such as Lao-tzu’s The Tao-te Ching, Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Qualities of the Prince,” Jean-Jacques Rouseau’s “The Origin of Civil Society,” Thomas Jefferson’s “The Declaration of Independence,” and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”. In The Sirens of Titan, Vonnegut has some points of view about war and leadership that are similar to Lao-tzu’s philosophy in The Tao-te Ching. In the work, Rumfoord is built as a symbol of a leadership. He is considered as the “mastermind” of the Martian war and his attention is that “Mars should lose the war” (176). He questions the reasons why the Martian soldiers should be beaten. Vonnegut’s philosophy explains “ Any man who would change the world in a significant way must have showmanship, a genial willingness to shed other people’s blood, and a plausible new religion to introduce during the brief period of repentance and horror that usually follows bloodshed” (176). This philosophy is the similar to Lao-tzu’s. According to Lao-tzu, people must possess a morality even when they are in fight. He states, “ [people] [enter] a battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion, as if [they] [are] attending a funeral” (27). However, the Martian army is a group of unconscious and heartless soldiers....
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