Rhetorical Analysis Pt. II

Gary Westfal is a scholarly author, reviewer of science fiction works and an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne. In his article The Case Against Space, he is inspired to come to fruition about his depleted motivation to invest his time rallying on about space research and exploration. There are a few factors that he brings readily to the table regarding this debate but, from an analysis point of view, it’s very interesting to see someone of his background make a debate against space.

The article begins with an nostalgic setting wherein the author visualizes himself, as a kid, waking up early and becoming ecstatic after yet another successful rocket launch during the 1960’s era space program. He explains that, unlike most of his constituents, his enthusiasm for has deteriorated over the course of his career inside STEM research and he has become reluctant to help push the agenda of the space program and its dubious motives. A coming of age sort of intro, if you will, that definitely appeals to Westfahl’s audience with the not so subtle use of pathos. He goes onto to recount that many of the space program’s leading innovators, including Astronomer Carl Sagan, have used man’s “inherent human drive to explore and inhabit unknown realms” to a point of irrelevancy in the space argument and that the argument itself is flawed. The counter-example Westfahl brings up is that, even as far back as the furthest reach of our known ancestors, there is no competing evidence to prove that our ancestors were “nomadic by nature” and that when people move, they tend to remain in the same general area. Grand migrations to distant regions are the exception, not the rule, in both human prehistory and human history. This is in stark contrast with my previous sourced author’s, McBrien’s, opinion that we were not meant to inhabit only one planet but were meant to reach out further and further into our local galactic group, to spread our influence. According to Westfahl, migration and exploration is only an exception of necessity and not a product of our own innate nature.

Westfahl’s disparagement with the rest of the planetary society’s ideals doesn’t end there as he goes on to say that the argument that humans have an innate drive to explore has some logos ramifications attached to it. Yes, we could be inspired to see Columbus’s conquests of the new world or the Puritans exodus to avoid further persecution as somewhat inherent in our nature because of the need to not only survive but survive well but these are double-sided examples. What of the men like Isaac Newton or Leonardo Da Vinci who stayed behind during the same time periods, unwilling to partake in the sense of adventure accept to stay at home and conduct their ground-breaking research? Surely, there must be something to sustainability of an area and working to emphasis environmental sustenance so men and women like the previous two that were mentioned could also work to advance our understanding of the universe.

Westfahl, Gary. “The Case Against Space”. Science Fiction Studies Journal — Vol. 24 Pt. 2 (1998): n pag. web. 16 April 2016.