One of Dick’s most famous ideas in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the Voigt-Kampff test, designed to root out closeted androids by testing their innate sense of empathy. The test presupposes that all human beings have an innate sense of empathy, and androids don’t. Again and again, Dick shows this assumption to be incorrect. In a way, the Voigt-Kampf test is another symbol of a futuristic society’s struggle to control and classify human nature—a struggle made easier by mechanization and technology. Like the empathy box or the mood organ, the Voigt-Kampff test is designed to celebrate and protect human nature, but it ends up just revealing the feebleness of any rigid definition of what is “human.”
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Voigt-Kampff Test appears in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...at all—for all intents and purposes, they’re human beings. However, there is one test, the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test, that’s designed to root out Nexus-Sixes. Because these robots are designed for intelligence,... (full context)
...the Rosens into their building, where he explains that he’ll be running a series of Voigt-Kampff tests on Rosen employees to root out potential androids. Rachael asks Rick to give her... (full context)
...will help the Rosen corporation hunt down the Nexus-Six androids. Rachael assures Rick that the Voigt-Kampff test will be sufficient for testing Nexus-Six robots. Rick agrees to these terms—he’ll hunt down... (full context)
...of this police agency in his life. He claims that he’s never heard of the Voigt-Kampff test, and that Rick has probably been killing innocent human beings, not androids. Resch suggests... (full context)
...and Rick climb into the hovercar. Inside the car, Rick takes out some of the Voigt-Kampff equipment that he carries in his briefcase. He attaches adhesive pads to Resch’s cheeks and... (full context)
...Garland: Garland was trying to split up Rick and Resch. Rick wonders aloud why the Voigt-Kampff test doesn’t measure humans’ empathy to androids. Previously, Rick had believed that empathy toward robots... (full context)