…because this is just too good to pass up! 🙂
In this journal entry, I attempt to answer to the best of my abilities several questions that happened to cross my mind during one of our class activities. Specifically, the activity we had was a film showing of Time of Eve (イヴの時間 Eve no Jikan) which was a film that tackled a future generation where androids have become an ordinary and integrated part of human society.
If something has feelings, does it also have humanity?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word emotion as “the affective aspect of consciousness” . Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others” . Truly, in accordance with both of these definitions of the word emotion, a certain response from the subject in question is said to be needed for emotion to exist. And a response can only be given when one has the gift (or curse?) of consciousness. But going back to the original question, the question of whether the existence of emotion itself (not taking into account the existence of consciousness) warrants enough reason to qualify one to be a human being or not still remains.
When we strip some aspects away, such as emotions, would you see a mannequin-like human or a human-like mannequin?
The argument regarding what constitutes humanity is one that has persisted across generations and has divided opinion among many people. Across continents and cultures, people have their own set of beliefs that all make sense (to one person or another). Honestly, it would be a tedious task to consolidate all opposing opinions and present each and every one of their arguments. My journal would likely end up like a cluttered mess of swarming ideas with nowhere useful to go. Instead, I would rather explore the general correlation that ties humanity to the emotions that we observe daily.
So what really is humanity? Is it the body? Is it the so-called soul (or perhaps the spirit)? In the film Time of Eve, it was posited by one of the characters how it could be that feelings were enough for someone to be considered human. After all, all we really communicate and interact with does not truly transcend that which we can observe. Our senses limit the ability by which we can determine the authenticity or genuineness of another object or person. Much thought about this doubt of humanity has permeated throughout history and will probably continue on until someone manages to determine how real we really are (if that is at all even possible). That being said, if we are limited to our senses in determining the truth, it may not sound completely absurd that we classify things as being human because we observe them possessing or expressing emotion.
If we were to say however, that emotions are truly sufficient to warrant a subject as being human, then what would it hold for those who are mentally ill? Would the different way in which they think and feel emotions make them less human? In fact, who’s to say that the mentally ill are not the ones who are really more human than those who develop in accordance with majority rule? This idea would entail that we give a different level of humanity to these people. The absoluteness that normally defines what a human being is would be blurred. More doubt may surface as there are now different hierarchies as to the humanity of a certain subject. The same argument would probably hold true for those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
And what happens if we were to discover the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life who are able to respond to stimulus and possess an “affective aspect of consciousness”?
Could it be that we are frightened by a faceless persona because we cannot ascertain its emotions?
Ultimately, it may also be that emotion is in fact a manifestation of humanity and not the other way around. It could be that humanity is the one that drives the manner in which we use our senses and process experiences. Our emotions are among the mental manners in which our humanity expresses itself. Although of course, this idea would still be subject to the arguments previously presented.
Can there be love between non-human beings?
Part of the central plot of the film Time of Eve is the debate over whether or not it is acceptable for love to exist between an animate and a somewhat-animate object. By the end of the film, the debate is not conclusively answered; arguments on each opposing side were just presented.
Can romantic love completely transcend the physical?
On the one hand, love is defined as an abstract feeling of attraction or commitment to another specific person or object. Here, it is argued that romantic love cannot solely be found in human-to-human relations, but can also be formed with non-human objects. The abstracted definition of love opens the door to many possibilities. As human beings, who are we to dictate upon other beings, such as animals or a future sentient artificially-intelligent (AI) entity what we believe love is. Once again, the idea of the limitations of the sensory experience gives us an air of doubt as to the ability by which we can determine the veracity of a certain concept; much more so one that is intangible, invisible, inaudible, inedible, and inolfactible.
Arguments can also be made to the contrary. Some would argue that only human beings are able to experience the concept of true love. Some say that the “love” that may be applied to non-human entities are ones that are not the same. This argument supplies that there are in fact different forms or types of romantic love.
In a whole other debate, but one that is not completely distant from this one here, is the topic of love and gender. Is heterosexual love any different from homosexual love? But again, that is a whole other ballpark.
Does believing you love mean that you actually love?
When we think of robots, do we see them as being able to have romantic love with each other? May it be argued that they simply were programmed to “love”? And what does happen when robots are explicitly commanded to “love” another robot, does it actually count as “love”? It may also be that AI entities may one day decide to “love” one another, but then it would beg the question as to if this is legitimate love as it would come primarily from a thought process as opposed to a emotion or feeling.
In the end, the question as to what true love and who can experience it is a truly big question to answer. It may be easier to think of an answer that fits one’s own beliefs rather than to debate endlessly upon who is right and who is wrong.
Existentialism and Human Emotions by Jean Paul Sartre (http://dbanach.com/exist.htm)
Love and Sex with Robots by David Levy
Lovotics: Loving robots by H. A. Samani