Water, 35 litres. Carbon, 20kg. Ammonia, 4 litres. Lime, 1.5kg. Phosperus, 800g. Salt, 250 g. Niter, 100g. Sulphur, 80g. Fluorine, 7.5g. Iron, 5g. Silicon 3g, and various other trace elements. Those are the ingredients to make an average adult human body. You can buy these ingredients at the market with the pocket money of a child. Humans are made so cheaply.
Those were the words of Edward Elric, State Alchemist from the anime series Fullmetal Alchemist. If you want to read up on it, it’s here, but I suggest you just watch the series. It’s quite interesting. Why am I mentioning this, you ask? Well, today, I saw a homunculus, defined in the anime as “artificially created human”. Actually, I just saw someone bearing an ouroboros tat on his leg.
This second blog entry is dedicated to my dearest friend who unfortunately told me not to write about: a) love b) philosophy. Well, friend, I’m writing about both this time around. What does the homunculi and human transmutation have to do with it? Well, imagine for a second that this homunculi I saw today was real; an artificially created “human”. What would be the grounds on his humanity? He’d be immortal. A philosopher’s stone would be in his chest in place of a heart. How can anyone say if he is truly human? These are some of the issues the anime tackled by the way, so if you weren’t convinced a while ago, then I’m trying again, go watch it!
What are the criteria of being human? Without even watching the anime, critical thinking would lead us to question the humanity of some people in this world, the murderers, the criminals, those are the people who are often targeted with the words “Magpakatao ka.” I cannot (and I’ve tried for 15 good minutes) think of a proper English translation for this sentence. It’s basically saying, “Be human.” It’s a call for humanity. Based on this, it can be presumed that most people’s criteria for being human is LOVE, for it is those criminals, those who act selfishly, who don’t love.
I can already feel a lot of morality questions raising on this. What if you are killing for someone you love? What if you are killing someone because you love him/her? Euthanasia is an issue that has been on debate for ethical philosophers for the longest time. Is it “human” to let someone die intentionally just because there is little hope in them living for long? Is that love?
Several ethical theories spring into mind as I type these words, but as we know, theories themselves can contradict each other. Take for example virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is the ethical theory that promotes simply being virtuous, or doing as a virtuous person would do. Now, since there are several virtues, some of them will unavoidably clash with each other. Now I’m no Nicomachean Ethics expert, but I do believe this issue would have conflicting virtues, or rather, one virtue would be in conflict with itself. The virtue of compassion; would it be more compassionate to let a suffering person die or to let him/her live?
That aside, what about those we call to be human? What of those criminals and inhumane people? Do they deserve to be called human? If we go a step further, do they even deserve to live? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother anime altogether (see Death Note), but it’s worth a thought or two. Getting back to our old anime, what of the homunculi? Some of them have shown capacities for love (or at least, what seems to be love, as it is also very hard to define love), like how Gluttony is with Lust, or (SPOILER ALERT) how the Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist (NOT Brotherhood) started to feel towards Scar. Does that make them human?
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that our terms come with so much ambiguity; they are so equivocal, that it’s really hard to tell what “human” is. As I’m sure it has crossed your mind at least once already, I apologize for not having much of anything new to offer (go watch Fullmetal Alchemist already! Now that show has plenty to offer). My view is simply this: to be human is to love, not in the sense of loving yourself or the people close to you, but loving in itself. As for the definition of love and the acts that follow it, I leave that up to you. The homunculi have spited humans for this “weakness”, saying how it burdens us, letting us choose the illogical options in most cases. Well, that’s humanity, and more accurately, humanism for you.
The world may never get to a single correct answer for the ethical question above, and for many other ethical questions, but I say, whatever you choose to do, do it with love. And yes, I am still crossing my fingers for better grades so I can finally take up philosophy and write my own ethical theory on love (half-kidding).
Thanks for reading! Munch on!