The original ‘Dune’ trilogy stands out as one of the best science fiction trilogies of all time. Frank Herbert deserves to be mentioned alongside the science fiction giants of his day such as Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. As with some of the works of those giants, Herbert created concepts for that trilogy that are inspirational enough to be called philosophies, systems of thought that form a personality core that can fundamentally change lives. I will mention three major ‘Dune’ philosophies. In this case, they are ideas that can improve life, not avenues of greed shared by villains in the trilogy, though even beneficial ideas can be twisted for nefarious use.
The first major philosophy involves the Bene Gesserit. The “Litany Against Fear” is a primary part of their mental outlook:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
This is a valuable lesson for fiction readers (or any entertainment fans) who have become too lost in fantasy and gain an unreasonable fear of reality. The philosophy is also applicable to other life problems where fear is a central block to gaining experience and knowledge.
The second philosophy is inspired by the Mentats, who are analogous to Vulcans from ‘Star Trek’ in that they use their advanced mental abilities in a logical and systematic way. Unlike the Vulcans, the Mentat’s ability doesn’t end with logic. They are able to form a concrete mental picture from seemingly chaotic mental associations where any linkage is tenuous at best. Thus they can predict human behavior with superhuman accuracy. A cross-universe Grandmaster Mentat would be Hari Seldon from Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ novels.
The third philosophy is an environmental one. In the third book of the trilogy, ‘Children of Dune’, Leto merges with sandtrout (sandworm young) and gains new abilities along with a renewed respect for the desert. Many people view certain ecosystems as a hindrance to human progress without much redeeming aesthetic value, such as deserts and swamps. Herbert’s message is that all ecosystems are worth saving, not just the ecosystems that look great on a postcard or are comfortable to stay in for long periods of time.