Rick hates his electric sheep precisely because he believes it cannot feel any love for him, even though he cares for it.
This feeling allows Rick to perform his work as a bounty hunter because he believes that androids, like his sheep, are incapable of true human emotion and therefore not worthy of life in a society in which life is the highest ideal.
Rick notes early on that herbivores or omnivores are the only creatures with the empathetic impulse and that empathy is what allows humanity to survive.
Yet, Rick soon learns that androids may be capable of empathy and humans may be able to be devoid of empathy; this in turn causes a extreme shift in Rick's understanding of himself.
In the novel's closing chapters Rick even fuses completely with Mercer.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Essay Questions
He becomes the real Mercer and the real Mercer becomes Rick.Empathy is the main theme of the novel and is the crux on which Dick's metaphysical reflection on the meaning of life hangs.Each character in the novel must deal with what it means to be empathetic and whether that allows someone to be valued as a living thing.This demonstrates the hypocrisy of Dick's future society.On the one hand, they seek to value and have empathy for all life while on the other they make clearly distinguished lines of hierarchy where some life is valued more than others.A corporation such as the the Rosen Association, Dick says, will do anything for their own survival, including life or cheat and, even, encourage the injury or death of the bounty hunters that seek to destroy their androids.This is Dick's critique of an economic system that abandons all value for human life except for the value that creates the most economic gain.This dichotomy is best expressed through the world of the empathy box and Mercerism.The reader at first experiences Mercerism as something that one can only experience through entering into a state of fusion with Mercer, mediated through the sights and sounds that one experiences while hooked into an empathy box.These themes are contrasted with the idea of the collective.It is the collective of humanity that must band together in order to survive the decay of the world around them. Through the spiritual fusion with Mercer and with other people, the collective humanity is able to ensure their own survival with a sharing of each other's empathy.