Many contemplate medical cannibalism as cannibalism as a study of the alien
past - a savage practice of long lost era. The fascination of these practices
emerged literary heritage of that time. These practices in metaphysics and
natural philosophy encouraged the idea of corpse based remedies. But changing
medical cannibalism's term to a lighter version as corpse pharmacology isn't the
All the practices that include cannibalism, organ donation and trafficking are
socially, religiously, politically, and culturally linked. There is contemporary
debate over the ambit of legal rights over people alive or dead. My research is
based on the morality, ethical code, legal code critical and logical arguments
based on the topic. The philosophy that I would write about is cynicism and the
philosophers are Diogenes and Plato.
The paper also talks about an interest drug called mumia and the modern medicine
practices and compares their usages. The philosophical question will arise in
aspects that deal with social disenfranchisement and judicial violence on the
ethics of what has to be eaten and how it has to be eaten.
I will also discuss the reasons for medical cannibalism and cannibalism and its
positives that might be taken into consideration. In the end the paper deals
with organ donation and trafficking, its laws and its health implications by
giving examples across the globe which took place centuries ago and comparing
them in the current context.
Cannibalism has been an ancient practice. It refers to the ritualistic eating of
a human flesh by a human being. It discusses about the existence of a soul in
the human being. In the ancient era, it was believed that the soul of a human is
inside the head of the body and thus removing of the head is considered
capturing of the soul.
This is also a form of cannibalism as some body parts are consumed in order to
transfer the victim's soul to the eater. In the sixteenth century a great
physician, Paracelsus wrote that after a man is hanged, his spirit energy is
still trapped within him for some time and the living eater can make use of it.
There have also been theories of medical cannibalism. For instance, Epilepsy is
a neurological disorder wherein a person's activities become abnormal and he
suffers from seizures and of loss of awareness. The epileptics of the ancient
Rome drank the blood of men who fought other men and animals. It was considered
as a health tonic taken from the freshly dead and the living as well.
A scholar, Saint Albertus Mangnus said that by distilling the blood of a healthy
man would lead to curing any disease in the human body. In Europe cannibalism
was used as a source of medical cannibalism and was considered social under the
shield of well-defined set of rituals rather than violence against dead and
Today movies like cannibal holocaust (1980), Cannibal (2013), The Green Inferno
(2013) can be used as a source of cannibalism in the darker greens and a great
deal of controversial articles haven written about nudity, violence and ethics
of the modern society, but Europeans plainly considered it medicinal.
There has been a worldwide debate on rights and legal theories about consuming
flesh. What makes consuming human flesh moral or immoral? For example, sexual
intercourse with consent is called sex and without consent would be considered
as rape. What if consumption of human flesh is with consent? The government
mainly can control over the rights of living human beings but not the dead.
A rational consent of a victim makes them a co-author of their own injuries. In
most countries, body piercings are allowed even though it is harm to the body
and, in some rare instances, could lead to serious harm, while it in some
countries is illegal. Gender conforming surgeries are also on the increase all
over the globe, being legal and considered an ethical surgery, despite it not
being physically necessary and potentially dangerous.
Cannibalism is considered immoral and savage, giving consent to an immoral act
makes the individual an autonomous immoral person but not a criminal. In most
states you can legally purchase body parts however the compulsory use age in a
moral way is not mentioned. Murder with consent is still a murder. Willingly
taking your own life is decriminalized in India (suicide). Consent to be eaten
after dying is still a question to be answered.
The philosophy of cynicism can be used for cannibals wherein they have abandoned
their materialistic desires and have decided to live on their own. The primary
values of cynics founded by Diogenes was rejecting customs and morals and living
close to nature. He also mocked the powerful by eating anything he found and
urinating in public. Many critics opposed this by saying they are acting for
their self-interest without contributing anything to the society.
Mumia is a power made from ground mummies as a drug for good health. It came to
be known as the natural mineral pitch. During the 18th century a pharmaceutical
treatise by Dr. Robert James, he said mumia might treat few ailments like
coagulated blood, can be used as a painkiller, a cough suppressant, menstrual
aid, and cures certain wounds. There was world-wide criticism regarding how it
treated these ailments and what exactly was extracted from the dead.
Many said that mummy drugs were not real and they were not obtained from the
ancient Egyptian mummies but were rather procured from recently executed
criminals. In the west, it was considered as a controversial practice as people
thought it was social inequality and racial stereotyping, drinking hot blood
from the criminal to cure epilepsy was considered a gruesome entertainment in
the area of medicine.
The reason why corpse medicine was neglected in the 20th century was not due to
enough scientific evidence, but it failed in the part of human progress in terms
of savage nature and the idea of consuming human body was known as disgust. From
generations to come the debate of what to eat, how to eat, when to eat,
vegetarianism, cannibalism, veganism, Jainism, have been an open debate. Some
people feel god would not bless them enough if they eat something that they are
not supposed even on particular days. And some believe only if they sacrifice
animals and human then they would attain the blessings of the all mighty.
Firstly let's discuss how and why it is justified. Consider a situation where in
one must sacrifice for others to survive.
Secondly, sacrificing due to ones wish. If one wishes to sacrifice himself one
should be allowed to. The law can punish an attempt to suicide but not suicide
because there would be nobody left to punish.
Thirdly, in the ancient eyes of tradition. Tradition has been considered as a
sacred thread above the law. If tradition permits consensual eating after death
then apart from morality and ethics there is no other issue. The law is based on
morality but morality isn't the law.
Now let's discuss how it is not justified.
- Firstly, Cannibalism is immoral.
- Secondly, killing amounts to murder.
- Thirdly, eating human flesh is savage.
- Fourthly, using the defense of survival is subjective but usually
opposed by most of the judges.
- Fifthly, Medical cannibalism can lead to human trafficking.
There is no proper medical backing regarding medical cannibalism. Lastly,
ancient traditions cannot be prevalent in modern times.
As the demand for organ increases, it's important to consider new laws, policies
and strategies to ensure medical ethical values which are important for our
society. Organ donation is based on the principles of altruism. Primum non
nocere or first do no harm, this principle is adopted by doctors where they have
to worry to do well before their own.
World Health Organization (WHO) defines presumed consent wherein permission is
taken of the deceased person for transplantation before his death. Many
ethicists believe that actual consent is not necessary for organ donation it
should be a default nature of all individuals to do good for the society. They
also think that is immoral if they deny consent. The constitution of India
guarantees right against exploitation which involves organ trafficking which is
linked with human trafficking.
Article 21 talks about right to live with dignity and right over their body.
Under section 360(3) of the Indian Penal Code and transplantation of human
organs act, 1994 are major laws governing organ trafficking. According to global
financial integrity, 10% of all organ transplants including lungs, heart and the
liver are operated with trafficked organs.
Moral codes and laws are not taken seriously due to various reasons such as:
- Health is a state subject
- Rural areas have less access to treatment
- Doctors, brokers, transplant centres are the main suppliers of kidney
- Ethical and moral codes do not allow many families to give consent of
the deceased person.
- Healthcare professionals and general public should be educated about the
importance of organ donation.
Stricter laws for human and organ trafficking. For instance the transplantation
of the Human Organ Act Sub Clause (3), Clause 9 of Chapter II states "If any
donor authorizes the removal of any of his human organs before his death under
sub-section (1) of Section 3 for transplantation into the body of such
recipient, not being a near relative as is specified by the donor, by reason of
affection or attachment towards the recipient or for any other special reasons,
such human organ shall not be removed and transplanted without the prior
approval of the Authorization Committee" has been misused or misinterpreted by
one and all over the years, since the act was passed. A patient whose kidney has
failed uses this clause to find an instant affection in a stranger who is
willing to donate his/her organ for money but they deny any such information to
the Authorizing commission.
In the end cannibalism, medical cannibalism and organ donation all sums up to
its morality and liberty of an individual. Ancient era customs have aged and
changed. The importance of laws relating to consent is supreme but at the same
time moral codes relating to liberty of eating human flesh has been curtailed.
Mumia had great importance in Egypt then lost its significance when Europeans
and Americans found is savage. Sacrificing and soul retreatment is still
prevalent due to traditions. Organ donation and trafficking laws have gained
importance due to demand of organs and less supply. Spreading awareness and
education to the general public about its importance would be beneficial.