On Cute Monkeys and Repulsive Monsters

Tod S. Chambers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


When I heard that a laboratory in China had cloned two long-tailed macaques, I thought of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. When academics write about the novel, many point out that the reason the creature becomes a “monster” is not that he has any inherently evil qualities but that Victor Frankenstein, the creature's “mother,” immediately rejects him. All later problems can be traced to the fact that Frankenstein does not take responsibility for his creation. While I do not disagree with this, we need to think beyond (or before) Frankenstein's rejection to the reason he rejects it. I would like to suggest that this reason reveals something about how bioethics judges new biological technologies. I suggest that what causes Frankenstein to feel revulsion toward his creation is its unsettling mix of the beautiful and the ugly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-14
Number of pages3
JournalHastings Center Report
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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