Unlikely Contributions to Life Philosophy


This forum, like the previous discussions in this series, will offer you the opportunity to consider how the unlikely or speculative aspects of a work contribute in particularly important ways to its meaning and broader purpose. The figure of the robot in R. U. R. makes possible a number of different approaches to this question.

This forum will also potentially serve as a kind of pre-draft exercise that you could use for one of the remaining high-stakes writing assignments. Contrasting the idea of life philosophy in R. U. R. and “Moxon’s Master” will be one of the options you’ll have for the Five-Paragraph Writing Exercise, which will be due early in Module 12. If you don’t use it for that assignment, you could consider using it for the Signature Assignment since R. U. R.‘s life philosophy is normative in that it imbues its message with moral purpose.

Forum Instructions

In this module’s micro lecture, we saw one route that life philosophy can take. “Moxon’s Master” raises ontological questions about the concept of life. But vitalism, even a vitalist materialism, is but one form that life philosophy can take. Perhaps more recognizably, life philosophy can take up the question of the good life. In literary fiction ,this version of life philosophy most often focuses on the individual since certain forms of the novel (say, for example, the Bildungsroman) are particularly well suited for imagining and valuing the trajectory of a person’s life. Nevertheless, R. U. R., as a work of dystopian fiction, epitomizes, as a kind of negative example, the way that literature can also explore what makes for the good life of a collective. It’s speculative aspects are undoubtedly central to the way that it thinks through this question. Unlikely Contributions to Life Philosophy

Answer the following questions:

How does the centering of R. U. R.‘s narrative around the figure of the robot contribute to the work’s life philosophy? In other words, why does Čapek build his reflection on the conditions of life in modern industrial society around this unlikely figure? How does his use (perhaps, invention) of this type of science fiction narrative (the sentient robot story) make possible a certain kind of thinking about how best to arrange collective life that wouldn’t be available in a fully realist work? (Other things to consider: While you could certainly focus on how the robots are directly depicted (e.g. their actions and speeches), you are also welcome to discuss how they are represented in the speech of the humans in the play, especially before the revolution. You could also speculate as to what the robots are supposed to emblematize in the actual lifeworld of the early twentieth-century West. They seem to symbolize or figure different things in different places within the play. Finally, you may want to reflect on the relationship between eudaimonia (happiness/flourshing) and ethics in R. U. R. as it pertains to role of the robots within the play.)Unlikely Contributions to Life Philosophy

Contributions to Life Philosophy

Please Order Your Post in the Following Way:

  1. Open your comment, if you aren’t the first to post in your group, by relating it to at least one preceding post using the argumentative twist technique. Make a claim about how the figure of the robot, either as directly depicted or as the subject of the human characters’ speech, helps to present the play’s life philosophy. (1-2 sentences)
  2. Anchor your claim in a discussion of at least one concrete and specific narrative or textual detail. (1-3 sentences)
  3. Supply reasoning that supports your claim. In other words, explain how the narrative or textual details that you cite confirm your claim, that is, serve as evidence. (Ideally, you’ll either offer evidence that no one in your group has previously addressed or you will offer a different take on evidence previously mentioned.) (1-3 sentences)

Additional Instructions:

  • Be sure to write with clarity and collegiality (i.e. be respectful of those who have a different opinion)
  • Length: Your post should be at minimum 150 words.
  • Format: You will post your comment directly in the appropriate discussion forum, so use the default formatting (font type, etc.) for the discussion board.
  • Citations: UseMLA in-text citations (Links to an external site.) for textual evidence that refers to the page numbers in the assigned editions of the standalone texts or the PDF/Word documents posted to Canvas. If you cite a different edition or another source, include an MLA Works Cited at the end of your post.


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