Frankenstein presents us today with two different stories and two different lessons. The book, especially in the 1818 first edition, tells the story of Victor Frankenstein’s neglect of his parental duties and the harms that followed. The more lasting myth that succeeded the novel, however, became popular as early as the 1823 production of the first theatrical piece based on the book, Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein. This play’s different lesson is that Frankenstein dared too much, presumed to divine powers, and thus instigated the harms that followed. Modern bioscience affords us many unprecedented and disconcerting possibilities through, among other tools, genetics, neuroscience, stem-cell biology, and assisted reproduction. Which lessons should we apply to those possibilities, and from which of the two Frankenstein stories? Henry T. Greely argues that we should mainly fulfill the novel’s views of our duties of care. We should indeed, in Bruno Latour’s words, “Love our Monsters,” though we also need to heed the allure to the public of the myth of presumption.


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pp. 799-821
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