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Old 01-18-2010, 11:51 AM   #22
WT Sharpe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vector View Post
Vashti, in the book of Esther, got into trouble by refusing to display her beauty. Forster's Vashti is reclusive and avoids direct contact with other people, so there is a certain similarity.

I don't know what significance Kuno might have.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ea View Post
Yes, that was what I could think of in relation to Vashti. I'm probably still just leaning towards what the names are simply supposed to be from two different cultures though they are mother and son, signifying that being a parent had much less meaning when the machine took over the work.
I think you both have made interesting observations. I also have no clue as to what the name Kuno might signify, but what Vector says here in relation to the Biblical character seems logical. As to the aspect of having names from two different cultures, that may be reflective of the disconnect between mother and son in a world where parenting is no longer the role of the biological parents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vector View Post
One thing that struck me is the prominence of “ideas.” It seems almost as if Forster is lampooning philosophical idealism. This seems odd as no one would blame people like Plato for the excesses of technology.

I think I may have an answer. I have been reading Simon Critchley’s Continental Philosophy in the OUP Very Short Introduction series. If I understand him correctly, he is saying something like the following:

Traditional European Christian culture, by valuing truth and rationality, subverted itself by encouraging the kind of philosophizing that, in the person of Kant, caused traditional beliefs to seem to be no longer viable. Much of post-Kantian Continental philosophy responds to this crisis.

Forster’s story may suggest a similar sort of self-subversion in secular scientific empiricist culture. Science produces technology upon which people become increasingly reliant, using it to mediate their interactions with others and with nature. They become more and more cut off from direct interactions with others and with nature and retreat into a sort of de facto idealism. People who think like Hume create technology which produces people who think like Plato.
I see other parallels to Plato, especially as regards how children are to be raised. It is interesting that the Machine's view of childcare by the state so closely resembles Plato's in The Republic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennyc View Post
I think there's a bit of an undercurrent, not quite overt of "worshiping the machine as God" and the danger therein.

Maybe that is my one-sentence description...
Obviously with the reverence shown toward the words of the Machine contained the Book of the Machine, worship of the Machine and faith in its pronouncements has become the new religion; despite what Vashti says about having no religious beliefs.
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