Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice describes
dangers we humans pose to ourselves and method he  for two links
sees as necessary to successfully address those dangers. illustrating
The problem, of course, is that a system for salvation  Godwin's
already exists, one that is not welcoming of the kind of     view click here
examination in which Godwin engages. By the time Mary
Shelley wrote Frankenstein, her father's ideas, which had for
a time been widely discussed, were being tried by only a few,
such as Robert Owen. More recently they have been used by
people such as Gandhi. Shelley designed Frankenstein  to
insure that her father's life's work would survive a long period
of neglect and be available when needed.
    Before Godwin died, he asked Mary to see to it that the
work he considered to be his best not be consigned to
obscurity. It now appears that she had done as much many
years in advance. What is concealed inside Frankenstein
is her father's system for finding the defects of society and
remedying them. Some of the defects of society Godwin
identifies are not seen as defects at all by institutions of society,
such as churches and governments. It is to be expected that
the operation of the machinery of Frankenstein, as it exposes
defects in such institutions, will irritate, dismay, and even
shock those who have depended upon them. Many of us
grow up with the idea that discussing religion in the way
that William Godwin or Thomas Paine have done is
impolite and is to be avoided. We see such an attitude as
representative of a lack of faith in the ability of humans to
improve upon their points of view and to reconcile conflicts
that have long caused great suffering and loss of life.
As evident through the examination of the historical record,
we are not alone in the conviction that topics usually
considered impolite are often most valuable means to the
discovery of political justice and the excellence of universal
virtue. We see the discrepancies embedded in ancient
writings as indicative of a keen awareness of the tendency
to allow the best of intentions to go awry and the need
for the very kind of review we engage in here. Mary
Shelley's parable of the ship's master reflects the same
awareness of the difficulties that are bound to present
themselves as seemingly intractable barriers to those
interested in the improvement of human society, as
well as the inextinguishable confidence in our ability
to overcome them. This is really what this site is all
about. The ancients, and more recently Shelley, have
included discrepancies to prompt us to review human
events and to see how we may do better.
     It is too late to stop what Mary Shelley began. Her
Frankenstein was brought inside the walls of society
long ago and became a source of entertainment and,
as a metaphor, useful to discussions of all kinds. Furthermore,
the machinery within the novel has been discovered and is
being operated. The book that much of this site draws from,
To a Candid World, includes some of the results of the
Godwin method that Mary Shelley put inside Frankenstein.
Among the features mentioned in To a Candid World is what
appears to be a clock which seems to have predicted
the very progress of Frankenstein that has been suggested
  Hail Mary Shelley! for her genius and generosity
  & Thank Godwin for this: ".... though the effects
  of truth may be obscured for a time, they will break
  out in the sequel with double lustre."[*]

[Main Menu]       [This Week]      [Print version]
This site is maintained by Tom Wolfsehr  Copyright 1999 - 2002

* This quote is from Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political
Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Happiness
toward the end of Chapter V  Voluntary Actions of Men Originate
in their Opinions. The paragraph continues with, "But this at least
depends upon circumstances. No comet must come in the meantime
and sweep away the human species: no Attila must have it in his
power once again to  lead back the flood of barbarism to deluge the
civilized world: and the disciples, or at least the books of the
original champions must remain, or their discoveries and
demonstrations must be nearly lost to the world."

             [This Week Archive]



[kitchen door] [Contact email]
[Main Menu] [Print version] [Top of Home page]
This site is maintained by Martin Moore        Copyright 1999 - 2000 Tom Wolfsehr