Study Guide

Parable of the Sower Philosophical Viewpoints

By Octavia E. Butler

Philosophical Viewpoints

In Parable of the Sower, our young prodigy heroine Lauren Olamina founds Earthseed, her own religion. Yeah, folks, in case you were wondering, that's pretty intense. Lauren's not just doing it for fun—she really believes it, and she's put a ton of effort into working out her ideas. According to Earthseed, God is Change, not a deified authority figure. Lauren lays out Earthseed with poetic verses, conversations with people she meets, and actions.

Fundamentally, Lauren sees recognizing the importance of change—and working with it—as a way of empowering people to better their communities and lives. Eventually, there's the Destiny: the idea that humanity should settle on other worlds in outer space. But that's something that humanity needs to actually make happen.

Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints

  1. Lauren argues that people need to think of change not just as an important thing, but as God. In today's world, where most professional philosophers are atheists, is Lauren's emphasis on God a step forward or a step back? Could Earthseed be considered just a philosophical viewpoint without religious components to it? Or if you take the religion out, does it no longer work?
  2. What's the difference between a religion and a philosophy? Is there a clear difference? In many Eastern traditions, for example, there's not a huge distinction between religion and philosophy. Is Earthseed like that? Or is it different?
  3. How does Lauren's life shape Earthseed, and how does Earthseed shape her life?
  4. In many ways, Lauren is the the change she wants to see in the world. In other ways, she isn't in a position typically thought of as powerful, and she only changes the lives of a few people. Is she a success? Is Earthseed a success?

Chew on This

Focusing on the importance of change is a particularly powerful way to help people solve problems and build community.

Focusing on the importance of change isn't a particularly powerful way to help people solve problems and build community.

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