Empathy Box Analysis

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man in pain stood before Rick. Rick immediately identified the man as Wilbur Mercer. “We know each other,” Mercer said, “I am your companion here. Yet you cannot let that be known. You must go on as if you did not know I was here.” Mercer showed his hands, empty with nothing to offer. “I don’t understand.” Rick said. “I need you to give me answers. I need your aid.” Mercer said in return “I cannot help you, just as I cannot help myself. There is no deliverance, there is no redemption. I can’t save you Rick.” Frustrated, Rick asked “ then what is the purpose of the empathy box? What is the purpose of your existence, Mercer?” He said “To be with you Rick, as you struggle. Where you go I will go. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You should …show more content…
When Buster Friendly makes his announcement that the “Wilbur Mercer is not human, does not in fact exist...Mercerism is a swindle”(209). The Baty’s a quick to agree. They see the empathy box as a way of “proving that humans can do something [androids] can’t do..[androids] just have your word that you feel this empathy business”(209). However, in the context of the chosen passage, a key contradiction comes to light. The concept of mercerism does not only require the ability of empathy, but it also requires the ability to believe in Mercer despite the evidence against him. In short, the very concept of Mercerism requires a moral conflict between unbelief and belief. Thus, while the human Rick knows that “Mercer isn’t a fake unless reality is a fake” the androids are “a long way off” and unable are ironically incapable of understanding how something that is illusory can also be real (234, 214). In the given passage, Mercer asserts that the purpose of the empathy box is for Mercer to stand alongside humans as they struggle. Therefore, since Androids do not have a moral struggle they are incapable of using and understanding the empathy …show more content…
However, one of the concepts that I found most compelling was the following of Mercer presented in the text. Mercer appears to both Rick and Isidore, and yet the concept of Mercer is consistently questioned throughout the text. I believe that the author uses this to show that Mercerism is the only constant throughout the novel despite the fact that the concept itself is very hard to believe. I thought that it was interesting that the author made this choice. In the previous two sections, the author blurs the lines between androids and humans and makes the reader sympathize with the android’s plight in some ways. For example, the author presents Irmgard Baty occasionally being nice to Isidore. The androids also have a strong group dynamic and are invested in the wellbeing of each other. However, after Racheal’s betrayal, the text shifts. The author no longer blurs the lines between the humans and androids. There is a very distinct disconnect between humans and androids when Mercerism is added to the fray. I also thought that the assertion that all all humans will be required to “violate [one’s] identity” was very interesting (179). I personally thought that this was a good insight into human nature. I also liked how it provided a contrast to the society presented in the book. In the novel, humanity is constantly defined by the human’s “good” characteristics such as empathy and understanding.

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