Moral Dilemma of the Scientist in Modern Drama

Author: Hye, Allen
This study includes chapters on European, American and British drama and bibliographic reference to many other plays about the scientists. While it is based on study of the original texts, it employs citations from English translations to make the material accessible to the English-speaking reader. It focuses on the moral dilemmas of the scientist and society but goes beyond the political and ethical discussion of atomic weapons that dominates most other studies. The plays discussed explore scientific experimentation with human subjects, utopian social science, the threat of irresponsible engineering and technology, creationism vs. evolution, and the abuses of psychiatry. The plays link these modern issues with eternal themes of human existence: the inquiring nature of mankind, the drive for knowledge and certainty, questions about God, human uniqueness and identity, a desire for and concern about progress.
Dramas include: Goethe's Faust and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"; Büchner's Woyzeck; Hauptmann's Before Daybreak; Kaiser's Gas-trilogy; Brecht's A Man's a Man, The Ocean Flight/The Baden Didactic Play of Agreement, and Life of Galileo; Kipphardt's In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer; Dürrenmatt's The Physicists; Lawrence and Lee's Inherit the Wind; and Barnes' The Ruling Class.


"This book has . . . a clarity of expression and a persuasive logic that make reading his prose a pleasure. This book treats in all of its complexity a single social phenomenon that is always fraught with moral uncertainty, that is, the problem of the proper use of technology, now to balance the good knowledge can bring with the evil it can cause. . . . Hye gives a sweeping view of this perplexing question in important works of literature from the last two hundred years. The choice of these works is intelligent because they are familiar to the reading and theater-going public. . . . It is hard to think that teachers of literature will not want to assign this book as secondary reading when they want to teach any of the above-mentioned plays or when they teach works that have the scientist or science as their subject." - Robert C. Conard

"With clarity and conciseness in writing, Allen Hye analyzes the ways in which scientists as characters in modern dramas confront moral issues and contemplate religious questions that emerge out of or challenge their scientific pursuits and discoveries. . . . Even more significant, however, are the ways in which Hye bridges the interests of theologians and scientist, humanists and historian, and theatrical and social critics. . . . accessible to inquisitive readers in a variety of academic disciplines. It will provide a provocative resource for courses dealing with the history of conflicts between science and religion, the philosophical foundations for scientific inquiry, the theological understanding of human nature, and the religious spirit of modern drama." - Joseph L. Price