We are accustomed to thinking about the achievements of modern technology in terms of extremes: the utopian wonders that will come from our ever-increasing power over nature, and the fear that we will misuse this power in terrible ways. The fear, at any rate, finds its classic expression in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In contrast, Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg’s 1909 novel The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague paints a nuanced, non-utopian picture of the circumstances under which the creation of an artificial human-like being does not have tragic consequences. The goal of this course is to consider the circumstances under which human artifice is more, rather than less, likely to be deployed for the good.
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
- Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg, The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague
- Modern scientific readings
Meet the Instructor
Charles T. Rubin teaches political philosophy at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. Recent publications focus on converging technologies, and those who believe they should be used to redesign humanity, a topic he discusses in Eclipse of Man: Human Extinction and the Meaning of Progress (Encounter/New Atlantis Books, 2014). Dr. Rubin is also author of The Green Crusade: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism (1994) and editor of Conservation Reconsidered: Nature, Virtue and American Liberal Democracy (2000). In 2017-18 he was a visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University, working on a book exploring what classic stories about human-created monsters tell us about the coming age of biotechnology. Other work in the field of literature and politics includes studies of Henry Adams, Flannery O’Connor (with his wife Leslie G. Rubin), H.G. Wells, and contemporary author Neal Stephenson.
Kate Havard Rozansky