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Because we do not eat bodies of dead people - we ought not to eat them.
VIII. Arguments from Religious Ethics
The major monotheistic religions are curiously mute when it comes to cannibalism. Human sacrifice is denounced numerous times in Old Testament - but man-eating goes virtually unmentioned. The Eucharist in Christianity - when believers consume actual body and blood of Jesus - is an act of undisguised cannibalism:
"That consequence of Transubstantiation, as a conversion of total substance, is transition of entire substance of bread and wine into Body and Blood of Christ, is express doctrine of Church ...."
"CANON lI.-If any one saith, that, in sacred and holy sacrament of Eucharist, substance of bread and wine remains conjointly with body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of whole substance of bread into Body, and of whole substance of wine into Blood-the species Only of bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.
CANON VIII.-lf any one saith, that Christ, given in Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema."
(The Council of Trent, The Thirteenth Session - The canons and decrees of sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent, Ed. and trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), 75-91.)
Still, most systems of morality and ethics impute to Man a privileged position in scheme of things (having been created in "image of God"). Men and women are supposed to transcend their animal roots and inhibit their baser instincts (an idea incorporated into Freud's tripartite model of human psyche). The anthropocentric chauvinistic view is that it is permissible to kill all other animals in order to consume their flesh. Man, in this respect, is sui generis.
Yet, it is impossible to rigorously derive a prohibition to eat human flesh from any known moral system. As Richard Routley-Silvan observes in his essay "In Defence of Cannibalism", that something is innately repugnant does not make it morally prohibited. Moreover, that we find cannibalism nauseating is probably outcome of upbringing and conditioning rather than anything innate.
According to Greek mythology, Man was created from ashes of Titans, children of Uranus and Gaea, whom Zeus struck with thunderbolts for murdering his son, Zagreus, and then devouring his body. Mankind, therefore, is directly descendant from Titans, who may well have been first cannibals.
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.