Rabbi Loew and Mr. Frankenstein: Lessons for Our Technological Future
An America’s Founding and Future Lecture
Charles T. Rubin, Associate Professor, McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Department of Political Science, Duquesne University
The stories of Frankenstein's monster and Rabbi Loew's golem reflect seriously on what it would mean to take the extraordinary step of creating humanoid life. Taken together these tales suggest some sobering lessons about the responsible deployment of our increasing power to challenge the naturally given, lessons that are particularly timely as advocacy of enhancement and radical modification of human beings builds.
Charles T. Rubin is Associate Professor in the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Department of Political Science, at Duquesne University, where he has taught since 1987. He teaches courses in political philosophy and about the normative aspects of policymaking. Prior to joining Duquesne, he taught at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Professor Rubin is author of The Green Crusade: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism (1994), which takes a critical look at key figures of the environmental movement like Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich. In 2000 he published an edited collection of essays titled Conservation Reconsidered: Nature, Virtue and American Liberal Democracy, containing fresh looks at key figures in the conservation movement and those who influenced them. Since then he has published essays on a variety of topics at the intersection of science, public policy and political philosophy, e.g., the problem of global climate change, the difficulty of applying the precautionary principle to measures dealing with Earth/asteroid collisions, and conceptual flaws in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He has also written about literary figures ranging from Henry Adams and Flannery O’Connor, to Neal Stephenson and Karl Cepak. His forthcoming book, Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress (2014) is a critical look at advocates of redesigning human beings. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Case Western University, and a Ph.D. In Political Science from Boston College.