Well, it is pretty uncivilized and barbaric, especially cannibalism amongst humans, if that is what you are referring to (I hope you aren’t). We tend to look at all other human beings as friends, not food. The only reason for cannibalism, is for nourishment, and we have many many other ways of satisfying our hunger than resorting to consuming our own kind, so it is certainly unnecessary. For myself, and most other people, the thought of that is quite repulsive.
In many societies, cannibalism is linked to murder, disrespect of the dead, or ideas about immoral/ravenous/inhuman hunger (note: in some, though few, societies, cannibalism is considered a very respectful act). The idea of eating “one of us” also is cause for concern for many people, especially when dealing with cases where the flesh eaten did not come from people who were purposefully murdered. It is hard to separate the harm caused to the fellow human that made them die from the act of eating (harming) their flesh, and the link to murder enforces the idea that cannibalism is an unacceptable act. Furthermore, sometimes cannibalism is linked to perceptions of sexual deviancy (some people gain sexual pleasure from the idea/act of eating willing or unwilling people).
Cannibalism can be seen as anti-social in the many societies in which cannibalism is taboo. It denies preexisting death and funeral rituals, and might even be seen as selfish or as a desecration of the corpse. A great number of societies place value open the idea of a whole, unmutilated corpse, and cannibalism subverts this value.
Forced cannibalism is used as a weapon in some areas of the world. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda often forced people in the villages they destroyed to eat the flesh of their fellow villagers. One can speculate that, in such instances, cannibalism is used to dehumanize the victims (both the consumers and the consumed), in that one is reduced to food material, while the other is forced to leave more acceptedly human forms of nutrition and consume another human in an animalistic way.
Love the depth of this answer. The cannibalism question is super interesting anthropologically, and you’ve hit on a bunch of terrific points here. I love especially the idea of cannibalism as anti-social — it seems like a comical exaggeration to us now, but pre-societal human groups were operating with zero precedent regarding law, culture, etc… That we were able to merge the idea of not eating each other (even after death) and thus valuing each other as something more sacred than “meat”, with the idea of gaining social legitimacy and credibility is actually (imo) extremely fascinating.
I think there is also a historical reason for this. Anytime in history cannibalism is encountered, it is always linked with savagery and uncivilized culture. I don’t think that there has ever been a situation where cannibalism has been discovered within a culture and the people of that culture have not been branded as savages.
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