In the Carl Sagan novel, Contact, we encounter a young woman character by the name, Ellie Arroway. In the beginning, of the novel we find Ellie questioning whether there was a possibility of teaching the ants about the alphabet. This became the genesis about discussion on the Great Chain of Beijing. This gives an opportunity for the introduction to the role of a young human as a learner and one who utilize knowledge and experiences (Sagan 30). Ellie does not consider herself as a theist and or atheist. She is agnostic. As the main character with another character prepares the audience for Sagan’s exploration to answer the question of whether humanity as a whole is capable of realizing the collective human potential in an extremely old and multifaceted humanity.
For the Elie, She was looking for a perfect certainty and was skeptical that the world is a fascinating place, and she wants to explore the world and confront whether or not she permission from the adults. Here, Ellie depicts a character of full curiosity and wants to explore the earth in order to get an answer for the question. Her character becomes a role model in that being a critical thinker, one need to be curios in order to unravel certain knowledge or principles. To be a critical thinker means one has to go beyond some imaginable limits as seen in Ellie who wants to explore even without permission from the adults (Sagan 425).
Ellie’s birth clearly reveals her character as we are told that, “on her face was an odd expression for a newly born –puzzlement perhaps.” (Sagan 425). Despite the fact that Ellie was not normal since she was not kicking or screaming, these make her bright and headstrong. In the eyes of many authorities Ellie many views Ellie as incapable and needs to be socialized or calmed. Her math’s teacher, Michael Kitz, he believe Ellie has a problem. She is demanding rational compulsion because she does not believe anything what other people say at least have evidence.
Ellie symbolizes Sagan’s belief on the, incredible of humans and the society need correction more than she does. Here, Ellie is skeptical that the society needs more correction and despite society perceiving her as having a problem she believes it is the society that has the problem. She believes that she is the one who has the power to correct the society and not the other way round. Here, we see Ellie being a role model to critical thinkers as they should be the ones who corrects the society. Critical thinkers have the role of correcting the society. Critical thinkers after applying rational compulsion in studying behavior in the society, they should provide a solution to the problem. Critical thinkers should emulate Ellie and openly critic the society on issues that are not going in the right direction. “Critical thinkers are the mirrors of the society” (Sagan 371).
Palmer Joss and Ellie appear as two distinct characters in the play “While Ellie is a science oriented individual who believes science to be the main cause of existence of phenomenon on earth, Joss is a staunch Christian.” (Sagan 425). In fact in the movie, Joss is represented as a preacher, who passes a message of Christianity to the universe. Later on in the movie, Joss switches from his role as preacher to a religious author, depicting his love for Christian related issues. He shows a persistent and humble character, which is contrasted to that of Ellie, who is a strong agnostic woman (Sagan 45). Palmer is a romantic and subjective person, he goes ahead to argue religion subjectively in his novel about religion.
Ellie also in her study of humans makes a rational compulsion about the human behavior that eventually become true, but does not qualify to be universally true. Ellie on her trip to Washington tends to believe on the innate judgment of humans. On the plane, Ellie observes a baby across the aisle who was 3-months old comfortably held in the father’s arms. She assumes that the child is naturally as curious as her and believes that humans have evolved the same way as the child. Her effort to experience the child through the eyes makes her conclude that the child is responsive and logical. Ellie here uses assumptions to come to a concrete conclusion of the question at hand. Like Ellie critical thinkers should analyze situations and give their verdict basing on concrete assumptions. These assumptions should be supported and should be next to the universally accepted truths (Sagan 45).
When Ellie was in her trip to Bible Research Institute and Museum, she encounters Rev. Rankin who gives Ellie his version of logic, but she had little patience to Rankin. Rankin‘s argument did not match with the one for Ellis as they were in different school of thoughts on the function of the human mind. Ellie here learns that the society posses people who misuse logic. Critical thinkers should bear in mind that the majority of the people in the society misconstrue some truths to fit their situations. This means that the critical thinkers stand a better chance to correct the judgment in the society, which has been misinterpreted.
The critical thinkers should make the judgment per the existing truth by leading as examples on matters, which need clarification. Ellis encounter with animals provided her with an opportunity to question the humans’ privileged place in creation so as to determine the nature of intelligence (Sagan 335). This also will provide an opportunity to her to consider her emotions in relation to the confines of intensive human actions. As she was still driving through the Mexico night-lights, she observes the behavior of the rabbits in reaction to her car lights. At this point, Ellis is both scientific and uses rational compulsion in her observation of giving judgment about the rabbit behavior in the highway. She puts that some of the people will act extremely than the way rabbits behaved in the highway. This clearly indicates that, as a human being, we should balance the use of mind. This means that we should not be one sided, but, as critical beings, we should employ all the critical methods to provide a judgment to a given problem (Sagan 230).
The second encounter of Elli with rabbits presents her as undecided on discovery of the unknown message, which fell onto the hands of the society she distrusts. When she visits the site where the machine is being constructed, she wonders if the rabbits had culture, shared structure of signals and practice that can be taught and learned. Elli questioned the importance of corporate human project, especially, as Vaygay later puts, “The planet is run by crazy people “In sharing the discovery with others, with different egos and motivations which are as powerful as her means she has hit the standard mark of human action. She believes she cannot succeed alone but with the help of other human being with the same interests and have no bias (Sagan 23). The same applies to the critical thinkers that they cannot succeed individually, but need the support of other critical thinkers in the society.
Critical thinkers should avoid egocentrism in order understand events and avoid the shared perception of her own culture but should embrace wisdom from the diverse cultures. This will ensure that the discovery is a blend thus making it reliable and more universal. As seen in the novel, Elli came across numerous encounters, and challenges and she overcame to adulthood; the novel, Contact, show us the start of our childhood’s end. This becomes a useful lesson in the life of a deductive person. As a result of exploring and critiquing issues in the society, there are a lot of challenges, which will block one from achieving the goal in pursuance. Critical thinkers should ensure that they remain committed to the true purpose of their work and overcome all the challenges (Sagan 335).
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