Well this got out of hand and way longer than anyone could ever be interested in reading. That’s more or less fine since the primary goal of these is an exercise and to force me to think about the things I read more deliberately, but of course ideally I’d still like people to read these things so in the interest of not scaring people away, I’ve divided this into 3 sections. I’ll also take this opportunity to to warn you that in order to talk about the things I want to talk about, I’ll have to spoil pretty much everything, so reader beware. Literally the first sentence is going to spoil the entire book.
Never Let Me Go is about the lives of these clones who are created for organ donation. Those details are slowly revealed and hinted at as the story progresses, the slow revealing was pretty natural and didn't really ever feel contrived. It’s presented as if you are also living in the same world as the book, so it assumes you know all this stuff because that's just the way it is. There’s no need from the narrator’s perspective to be explicit about the cloning and donations because we, as inhabitants of this same world, already know all about them.
There are 3 main philosophical questions, 2 which the book deals with directly and 1 which I started wondering about as I was reading. The first is: Do clones have souls? It’s a little murky since the “answer” depends so much on how you define souls and your religious stance. It’s still worth considering since there’s no hard barrier to human cloning. We haven’t done it yet, but that’s largely due to the fact that we’re not allowed to. So imagine that we do, imagine that someone 100% successfully clones a human and now we have this cloned human. They are in every way indistinguishable from a non-cloned person. If you did not already know they were a clone, you would not be able to tell. I suppose my saying that suggests where I stand. So I guess let’s step back and talk about what you and I consider to be a “soul”.
Obviously I don’t know where you stand on souls, and again, I imagine it largely hinges on where you hang your religion hat. If I ever refer to someone’s soul (and why would I), I’m referring to, like, their whole deal. Their … personness. That’s vague I guess but I don’t really know how to be more specific about something abstract like this. I can tell you what I don’t think a soul is. I don’t think a soul is the ghost that lives in your body and drives it around. I guess I’m dancing around saying that I don’t think the soul is a thing. It’s at most an abstraction of a person’s personality, emotions, history and mind. So going back to our clone there, by my interpretation of a soul, sure this dude’s got as much soul as anyone. If you lean more to the spiritual interpretation, you still might not be sure how you feel. You might even take issue with my statement that the clone would be no different from anyone else and that we wouldn't even be able to tell. It might be your stance that if God didn't put a ghost captain in this people ship, then it would just be catatonic and empty, or maybe it just wouldn't work at all. I’m going to move forward with my line of thinking, because I am me. If you completely disagree, the following questions won’t really matter to you too much, but if you’re not really sure, for the time being operate under the heading “what if they did?” because the next question asks...