Knowledge as a Double Edged Sword in the novels Oryx and Crake as well as A Canticle for Leibowitz

Knowledge as a Double Edged Sword in the novels Oryx and Crake as well as A Canticle for Leibowitz

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Is knowledge, which is the base of human ingenuity and intelligence, also the factor which will bring upon humanity’s impending destruction? Knowledge today plays a key role in almost every facet of human existence, from food, to water, to providing the foundation for every piece technological equipment ever constructed. Knowledge though has also provided us with ever more imaginative and efficient means of killing and destroying each other and the planet, these means include nuclear weapons, and of course biological warfare. Therefore knowledge plays the role of the doubled-edged sword, bringing humanity luxuries and power beyond conception, as well as arming us with the tools to completely eradicate all life. In the novel of Oryx and Crake, a slightly more advanced civilization than ours, where biotechnology has brought numerous wonders to the world is brought into perspective. This civilization, wrought by corruption, has eliminated disease, and now is making synthetic viruses in order to cash in on the destruction, the perfect scheme. One of the protagonists, Crake, discovers this scheme, and with this knowledge, seeks to destroy the corrupted civilization, by performing the same atrocity. With Crake’s synthetic virus, he eliminates the entirety of human race, with the tools knowledge supplied him with. In the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz the human race is just an insignificant remnant of its former glory, after it obliterated itself with the use of nuclear weapons. This novel shows humanity’s rise out of the ashes, with focus being placed on the Order of St. Leibowitz, the sole caretakers’ of the hated knowledge from the age past. With the knowledge contained with the Order, humanity experiences a renaissance, in which ulte...


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...prized knowledge above all else.
In both Oryx and Crake and A Canticle for Leibowitz, knowledged acts as a doubled-edged sword bringing wonders and inventions that truly make life easy, and at the same time bringing death and destruction in the form of weapons and military advancements. It is quite evident in both novels that knowledge acts a god, to be worshiped and studied, and as a god, chooses when to deal out good and bad deeds. Knowledge provided mankind with miracles and massacres. Knowledge itself is not lethal, mankind is the hand that directs the pathways of knowledge. Humans cause massacres, with the aide of knowledge. But if mankind is truly born evil, than it is only a matter of time for it to destroys itself. As mankind delves more deeply in the the endless mine of knowledge, it must take caution, as it has within its grasp to become gods…or demons.

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