Brave New World: Conditioning Process

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  • 0:04 Conditioning the Future
  • 0:50 Caste-Based Conditioning
  • 1:49 Hypnopaedic Conditioning
  • 2:27 Individualized Conditioning
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

In the dystopian novel, 'Brave New World', everyone knows their place in society, from the loftiest Alpha Double Plus to the lowliest Epsilon Minus Regular Moron. This lesson will discuss just how each citizen learned their place.

Conditioning the Future

In the society of the World State in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, nothing is left to chance, including the very act of coming into the world. Far from being born and raised by a loving family, individuals are decanted and 'conditioned' for their fate. In fact, this idea of conditioning, or the process by which an individual is prepared for his or her role in society, is so crucial to the society that Huxley spends much of the opening chapters explaining it in no uncertain detail.

In this lesson, we're going to take a look at the conditioning process, focusing not only on the caste-based conditioning everyone gets, but also the individualized conditioning specific to each person's role, and the hypnopaedic conditioning that helps to reinforce the whole system.

Brave New World cover
Brave New World cover

Caste-Based Conditioning

As you read the book, you might get the impression there is some serious tension between the various castes. It's not that there is any overt hostility, but everyone seems to be very happy to be decanted into their respective caste. This is not by accident. Throughout the process, whole castes are taught that their own fate is far superior to everyone else's.

A Beta, the second-highest caste in the society, is told they are lucky they don't have to think as hard as the Alphas (or the highest caste), as that would be exhausting. Still, they are lucky they don't have to wear such a dreadful color as the khaki of the Deltas, a lower caste.

Whole groups are conditioned in other ways as well. Early in the book we see a bunch of infants looking at pictures of nature. Obviously, it's human nature to be drawn to pretty flowers. Then, suddenly, the floor delivers an electric shock! Over time, the infants develop a definite distaste for interacting with nature.

Hypnopaedic Conditioning

Much of this process is possible due to hypnopaedic conditioning. This sleep-teaching results in emotional memories being implanted in the brains of the young while they sleep. We learn that certain phrases are repeated an exact number of times during certain ages. Lenina, one of the main characters, has a flashback of waking up and becoming aware of the voices when she was a child.

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