The definition of humanity, byWebsters dictionary is as follows: compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior ordisposition :the quality or state of being humane.
This definition is somewhat broadand only really focuses on the mental requirements for being of the humanclassification. However, some beings push mechanical modification developmentinto human anatomy improvement, which can make humans seem more than justhumans and bring up the question if they are not even human anymore because ofthese additional mechanical counterparts? The physical human definition isbeing pushed and I am drawing the line where if humans require machinereplacement for their birth organs that are required for their survival, thenthey are no longer human. To elaborate on what organs I amreferring to, I mean internal organs that if, they were to fail or be removed,the body as a whole would no longer be able to function. If such organ were tobe replaced by some kind of mechanical device, then the being would no longerbe human, and would instead be considered cyborg.
Some example are the brain orheart. Obviously these two organs are necessary for life and without it, thehuman body would not be able to survive. If they were to be mechanicallyreplaced, then the body would no longer be human due to the body being runmechanically. Take for instance, the kidney organ.
Humans are typically bornwith two kidneys but only require one. On the contrary, if a vital organs suchas the brain were to be replaced by some type of mechanical or robotic brain,then they would be considered a cyborg. We can refer to Mad Max: Fury Road to see how the film takes a different view onthe Cyborg vs.
Humanity debate. To summarize: Mad Max: Fury Road takes place in an apocalyptic wasteland a fewyears after most traces of civilization have ended. Max, the main protagonist,is captured by the War Boys and is made a blood donor. Imperator Furiosa issent by the leader of the War Boys, Immortan Joe: the main antagonist, tocollect gas but instead intends to take Joe’s five wives in the War Rig to asafe haven. One of the War Boys spots the War Rig driving off path to adifferent destination, so Joe commands a convoy to stop her. Max is put at thehead of one of the convoy’s cars still being used as a blood donor prisoner.Max and Furiosa both escape the convoy separately but they have an encounter tofight for the War Rig with each other.
They came to terms realizing they bothneed each other to survive. The rest of the movie continues on with variousencounter with the War Boys and Immortan Joe and the attempts to take outFuriosa and return the wives. The two main characters to focus on are ImperatorFuriosa and Immortan Joe who apply the greatest to the concept of cyborg versushumanism. Furiosa has a mechanical arm due toher losing her arm earlier in her life. In order to determine how it could beperceived as cyborg technology, we have to analyze its full capabilities.
Iresearched what the arm is capable of in comparison to a human arm. Accordingto a detailed review of Imperator Furiosa in the film: “prosthetic arm features a middlefinger with a hook; the index finger contains rubber at its tip, while thethumb has a rough metal surface similar to the surface of heavy pliers. Anyassumed motion appears to be set forth by various springs, none of which lookseven remotely strong.
The index and middle finger feature perforated metalwhich is not covered by any leather or fabric. The prosthetic gripper ismounted on three rods that give a forearm-like appearance while a wrist unitseems to be absent. The prosthetic device features a number of totally obscurecables, none of which makes sense even in a remote way, and none of which seemto add to even a fictional type of functionality. Furthermore, a wrenchobviously was strapped to one of the rods, acting as an ornament. To add to thenotion of ornament, the socket is so short that there is no way such aprosthetic arm really stays on a stump for any considerable time, leave aloneenabling the wearer to actually lift anything at all”. Clearly based on thisquote, you can see that the arm is not fundamental to her survival, it merelyaids her for her everyday tasks.
However, Immortan Joe has a face mask due to his healthstatus that is steadily depleting. Also his back appears to be covered in largeboils throughout the film and is covered by plexiglass armor . Immediatelyduring his introduction in the movie, it is obvious he has severe respiratoryproblems but because he the tyrant of the War Boys cult, he has access to toclean air through his mask.
The white powder that is blown on his back by oneof the War Boys is used to ease the pain from the large boils. We can comparethe arm and the mask and analyze their purpose to the user and ask thequestions, does this modification to their body still make them human?Furiosa’s arm tool essentially replaces the functions her arm was capable ofand more. However, Immortan Joe’s face mask provides him with oxygen. Here iswhere we can evaluate the questions of: Where can we draw the line betweenhuman and inhuman? Furiosa, at different instances through the film, is seenwithout her prosthetic arm modification. Although this mechanism is veryhelpful to her because it performs the actions of the human arm and more, it isnot essential to her survival. However, Immortan Joe’s respiratory mask isrequired for him to survive. If we are no longer able to survive with our birthorgans, let alone any other human’s birth organs, how can we be consideredhuman if a machine is the reason we are alive? This theory results in ImperatorFuriosa being classified as a human and Immortan Joe being classified as acyborg.
The questions also arises that if an elderly man or womanwere to have a oxygen mask to help them breath easier, if they would beconsidered a cyborg because of the mechanical equipment aiding their survival.The answer is no, because they are capable of still functioning if they were tohave the oxygen mask removed. The purpose of the mask is to simply helppatients who require breathing assistance. In another situation where theoxygen mask is the sole mechanical organ giving the human life, then at thatpoint they should no longer be considered human, because without a machineholding their life together, they would be dead.Moving over into modern reality, we can use the paralympicgames and the strive of some of their competitors to relate back to how thetechnology they wear or require gives them either an advantage or disadvantagerequiring them to compete in the paralympic games or not compete at all andoverall if they would be considered cyborg or humans. For this example, we canrefer to Cyborg Anxiety: Oscar Pistoriusand the boundaries of What It Means To Be Human. This article primarilydiscusses the controversy of paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius moving up fromthe paralympics to compete at the olympic level.
“Oscar Pistorius is a SouthAfrican sprinter who runs with prosthetic legs and who now wishes to have theopportunity to compete not against disabled athletes, as he has been doing formany years, but against his able-bodied peers” (188). As the debate continues,many questions arise about the consequences of letting him compete, such as ifhe were to fall in the middle of a race, would he be capable of injuring theother athletes? Or do the legs, contrary to the idea of him having adisability, provide him with a greater advantage than a non-disabled human?These questions seem to refer to Pistorius as a tool rather than a humanbecause of his leg. Which leads into the argument of disabled people not beingclassified as fully human. The definition of a Cyborg can be referred to back herewhere it means to be part machine and part human.
Oscar is not a cyborg. Thefact is that his prosthetic leg is used for athletic purposes and is notrequired for his survival, means that he is not a cyborg. Based on the tone ofthe article, it appears that the cyborg argument is used as a term to justifythe unproven advantage he may have in future races.
The third topic of discussion is the concept of humancloning and if the cloned human would be considered a human. Of course, this isnot a modern procedure and has not been proven to work, but it collaborateswith my argument. The cloning process is the duplication of an already existingindividual recreating the same DNA structure. Some people would argue clones are human because of their identicalhuman parts. Rudolf Jaenisch, Massachusetts Medical Society, goes over thebasic scientific process behind reproductive cloning: ” Thenucleus is removed from an egg leaving the cytoplasm and mitochondria (cellularcomponents derived from the mother).
A body (or somatic) cell is taken from anadult individual who is to be cloned. The DNA is extracted from the nucleus andinserted into the prepared egg. The new cell is then induced to divide usingeither chemical or electrical stimulation, thereby commencing the developmentof an embryo. After several days the dividing embryo is then placed into thewomb of the recipient and allowed to develop to term.
The result is a clone –an individual that is the genetic duplicate of the individual from whom theoriginal body cell was taken. To date this process has not been proven to occurin a human being. If it did so, it isimportant to note that the resulting child would neither be the individual’sson or daughter, nor their twin brother or sister. The child would truly be anew category of human being – a clone.” This explanation clearly states thereasoning as to why a clone is named as such and not as a human or cyborg. The counterargument arises where if a man were to have,for example heart replacement surgery, would he still be considered human? Yes,if a human replaces a vital organ with another humans vital organ, then theyare still human.
Simply because of the fact that the organ is not mechanicaland the organ that is used for replacement is the other humans birth organ.Inconclusion, there is clearly a proven line between what is human, and what isnot. Mad Max: Fury Road shows the line where Imperator Furiosa is clearly ahuman because her prosthetic arm does not sustain her life, while Immortan Joeis a cyborg because his survival depends on his respiratory mask. Oscar Pistoriusis clearly not a cyborg because his prosthetic leg is used for paralympicathletism purposes and not required for his survival. And cloned individualsare not even considered humans or cyborgs because they were not birthed ashumans would be, meaning that they would not have birth organs.
Works Cited Schweitzer, Wolf. “Mad Max Fury Road – fictional arm amputee”Imperator Furiosa” played by Charlize Theron Review.” Technical Right Below Elbow Amputee Issues,19 July 2016. “Oxygen therapy for pneumonia in adults.” Wiley, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 14 Mar.
2012. Hilvoorde, Ivo Van. Paralympicperformances and new technologies; issues of classifications and representation.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Jaenisch, Rudolf. “Human Cloning – The Science and Ethics ofNuclear Transplantation.” Perspective,Massachusetts Medical Society, 2004. Swartz, Leslie, and Brian Watermeyer. Cyborg Anxiety: Oscar Pistorius and the Boundaries of What It Means ToBe Human.
Disability & Society 23:2, 3 Mar. 2008.