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Is it wrong to eat humans?


Several years ago I had a debate, with anonymous net friends, over the question, "Is it wrong to eat humans?" My previous post made me rethink that question.

Of course, eating human beings has been considered a taboo practice in many regions, and it is crystal clear that killing human beings in order to eat them should be completely forbidden.

However, the question I am thinking about is this: "Is it wrong to eat dead humans?," precisely speaking, "Is it wrong to eat a human being that is already dead?" If it is wrong, what is the reason for that?

Do you think this is a devilish idea? Ok, then, let us think about organ transplants from brain dead children. In many countries, the heart, the liver and other organs can be removed from a brain dead child, whose body is warm because the blood is still circulating inside. Removed body parts are transplanted into other people's bodies. Some Japanese critics think that this is equivalent to eating human organs.

You may say that the motives are different. Organ transplants are for the purpose of saving people's lives, but eating human organs are for egoistic reasons such as gourmet cooking and delicacy.

Then, think about the following case. Imagine a man who loves his wife from the bottom of his heart. One day, his wife becomes seriously ill and dies suddenly. He deeply laments over her death, and wishes that at least a part of his loved one's body will continue to exist inside his body, and decides to eat her. (Please remember that the parents whose child becomes brain dead often wish at least a part of the body of their beloved child will continue to exist in someone's body, and argree to organ transplants.)

In this case, is it possible to find a sound reason for persuading him (and us) not to eat his deceased wife's body?

While destruction of the dead bodies is forbidden in many countries, organ transplants (this is the apparent destruction of the dead body) is considered an exception to this rule. Then, what about eating the beloved one's dead body?

Photo: Zushi Coast, Kanagawa

Related post: Is it cruel to kill animals?

  -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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What' the use, when you will finally "shit" your loved one quite soon!

Thanks, Ron. No, it could be meaningful to the person because the body of the loved one will be digested and some of them will be integrated into the person's body (of course some will be excreted).


Sociopolitical moral decision making is something that has been discussed transculturally for thousands of years. One of the examples of a civilization’s concern and moral debate over body parts and their perceivable familial value comes from Herodotus. He describes how Darius, King of Persia, summoned some of the Greeks to be brought before him. He asked them how much he would have pay them to eat the corpses of their fathers. They refused at any price, to contemplate any such abomination. Their fathers, they insisted, must be properly cremated. Then, Darius called up some Indians and asked them what would make them burn their father’s bodies. The Indians cried out that he should not mention such a horrid act as it was their custom to eat the bodies of their parents.

This information of Herodatus was mentioned in a biothics journal a few years ago....I can not quote the journal at this time.

I am desperatley searching for the script of The Noh play Myou no I( Down The Dark Well) a play on bioehtics presented in 1996 . ( I am in desire to study the text and narrative)

Thank you for any help!


The information comes from Peter Singer's , A lesson In ethics, Whales and The Japanese.

Truly I believe ,if the body is sacred and reflective to the divine and celestial universe(Confucian, Shinto, Buddhist) then to unritualistically destroy it and or mutulate it would not be good karma. I am not saying that I understand karma. I only use the term lightly.

Buddha stated that the body needs to be tended to and taken care as though it has a great wound. That sounds correct to me versus the developed socialization of cannibalization for the sake of a temporary utility. Responsabilty has rarely been a developed character trait of the human race except In the case of Japanese with the attitude of Shinto and Jinjitsu "love and kindness" for fellow humans and Jizo ....ect..


when you eat a person some will be integrated.. right but later on it will stil diminish to the course of time unless we are to believe that everything we eat will stay integrated in our bodies forever.

Why not skip the argument of organ transplant and look at it from the angle of personal preference.
It is no ones business what another person eats--it is only important that the eater, and in the case of human eating human, the eaten, consent to eating and being eaten.
In the case of two consenting adults no logical argument can be made to stop a human from eating another human.

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