Science as a Tool: Dr. STONE and the Neutrality of Technology

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Sean Aitchisonhttp://seanaitchison.com
Sean is a writer/researcher with a big love of anime and dumb shounen protagonists and a lot of opinions about both. You can find his writing and research work on his website and catch him streaming on Twitch twice a week.

In Dr. STONE Season 2, the main conflict comes from Tsukasa and his Empire of Might desiring to only revive the young and powerful—contrasting Senku’s desire to save everyone.

One of the themes in the series is this idea that science and technology should be used for good…but I don’t think that the morality of science is that clear-cut in the world of Dr. STONE. In fact, one of the most interesting pieces of its narrative is how it depicts these things merely as tools that, by definition, have no indicative morality.

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Sure, Senku and his Kingdom of Science are the protagonists, and with them, the series is saying that science should be used for good—but it doesn’t say whether science is inherently good or evil.

Science is neutral, and the series shows us that it’s up to us to make the active choice to use it for good. And it’s one of the core reasons as to why Dr. STONE works so well.


The miracle of revival fluid

Tsukasa Dr STONE

The best way to illustrate this is through one of the series’ earliest displays of science: revival fluid. Why? It’s a liquid that allows those who’ve been petrified in stone to be released.

Senku uses the scientific method to develop the fluid, and the results are up to him. Personally, he wants to revive everyone he can. And when he revives Tsukasa, he quickly learns that not everyone feels that way.

It’s pretty cut and dry here. This science has the potential for good, for evil, for selfish gains and everything in between. In fact, it was by chance that Senku was randomly revived thanks to nitric acid. Science has no built-in morality.

Further depiction of science technology as a neutral force comes from the accommodations that both Senku’s Kingdom of Science and Tsukasa’s Empire of Might create as they grow accustomed to life in a Stone World—things like fire, housing, clothing, food preparation, etc.

These things come with some level of scientific understanding, and both sides of moral conflict in Dr. STONE have access to them. These things are universal—not bound to morality.


Choose your weapon

Dr. STONE Senku

OK, now why is this important? Why does it matter if science is depicted as neutral? Well, because this way, utilizing science for good is not the obvious choice, but an active one.

See, if technology and science are seen as being good by nature, then all advancements in tech would be seen as inherently beneficial to society. And we all know that’s not always the case.

In Dr. STONE, science and tech are merely tools. Senku makes the active choice to use those tools to rebuild society, while Tsukasa essentially wants to tear down the old ways and remake society in his image—no room for weakness.

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All you have to do is look at what each of the two groups do with their knowledge. For example, the Empire of Might is mostly producing weapons, putting all of their effort into taking down the Kingdom of Science and guarding the “cave of miracles,” while Senku prioritizes sustainability and prosperity for Ishigami Village.

Yes, he does technically make a tank, but that’s more of a mind game than anything. He also uses science to make things that don’t technically serve a morally good purpose, just cool gadgets that are interesting to him. Sure, they also benefit society in a positive way, but sometimes he just wants to make cool stuff.


For the benefit of others

Dr. STONE - STONE WARS English Dub

Here’s where it all comes together. The very fact that Senku decides to use science for good helps to shape his character. Think about it: If science were treated as an inherently good thing, this his decision to rebuild the modern world would just be “logical.” In fact, we can picture Senku saying just that.

But science is neutral, and Senku is selfless. Though occasionally flaunting a rough exterior, he’s kindhearted and good-natured, and he wants to use science for good.

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But you might be asking why this all matters? Well, it’s actually a pretty subtle way for Dr. STONE to introduce morality to its narrative. It shows that anything (in this case, science) can be bad in the wrong hands, but science is good because Senku is good.

And through realizing that, we get a clearer picture of the themes in the series. Science, hell, morality, etc., are all just tools. It’s up to the individual to use them for good. That’s a lesson we could all serve to understand if we want to make the world (or a Stone World!) a better place.


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