The Brave New World of One-Dimensional Man: A Reappraisal of Aldous Huxley and Herbert Marcuse

Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 10-1-2012

Department 1



Philosophers, since the beginning of the ‘discipline,’ have always sought Truth and proclaimed reason and rationality as the cornerstones of the human endeavor, the human project, equating such concepts with the idea that these in themselves are the source of genuine, human happiness. Only through our reach into the future, our constant striving for a better world, will happiness ever be proclaimed as the end in itself. In essence, for the whole of the tradition, Truth has been equated with happiness in that, if one finds Truth, one will have also found happiness. In the modern contemporary era, however, the ideals of Truth and happiness seem to have become conflated, where Truth is reflective not of some outside ‘striving-toward’ principle, but instead reflects the general, present condition. In other words, Truth seems to have been equated with what we deem to be happiness today, a kind of blissful ignorance where happiness equals truth in the sense that it is perceived that the highest good is a soporific stupor, a state of perpetual pacification. Has history reached its end point, where the ‘affluent’ industrial societies of today are able to provide and satisfy, more or less, the needs, wants and demands proclaimed by its citizenry? Is it such a bad thing to alleviate or ‘give up’ some of one’s individuality in order to ensure the smooth running and continuance of the society at large, where social cohesion is maintained through a rigid scientific and technical process of social conditioning and control? Or is it that there is something fundamentally human to the constant striving-towards Truth that does not necessarily allow for the settling-down and stagnation of the human project? This paper seeks to sort through these types of questions in light of a close reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, where the predictions of a future civilization and the analysis of contemporary societies may show just how embedded in the ‘system’ we really are, and if there is any chance for us to qualitatively change our present course.


Senior Philosophy Thesis

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