Human Science

In the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on one of a series of novels by Patrick O’Brian, we see a powerful example of how change in attitude can bring an overwhelming response from life.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British naval frigate HMS Surprise is pursuing the Acheron, a large and powerful French war vessel that is sailing off South American. The Surprise, commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey, is then attacked by the Acheron, and the ship is badly damaged, with many of its crew wounded. Even though the Acheron is a far more powerful ship with many more men aboard, the Captain still decides to try to capture it at all costs.

At various points, the Captain is torn between his own ambition and the views of his close friend, Stephen Maturin, who is the ship’s doctor. Martin thinks that the Captain is needlessly endangering the lives of the crew by perusing the Acheron.

At one point, Maturin wishes to stop at the Galapagos islands in order to gather some of the rarest animal and plant specimens on earth. The Captain insists there is no time, and they sail off. Thereafter, the doctor is accidentally wounded, and the ship is forced back to the Galapagos so he can heal. With Maturin near death, the Captain senses that he should have listened to his friend in the first place. After a while, the doctor recovers, and the Captain guardedly allows him to go on an outing to gather the specimens he so longed for. At one point, Maturin climbs a hill, looks out to sea, and then sees of all things, the Acheron, the French ship they are after, sailing nearby! The crew then immediately sets sail after the ship, and destroys it!

In other words, because the Captain saw the error of his way, and accepted the fact that he should have listened to his friend request in the first place, his friend suddenly finds the enemy for him. It is a wonderful example of how life responds in overwhelming fashion to a change in attitude.

--Roy Posner 19:33, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

See also other Case Studies on Life Response

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