Day 7 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Time of Eve

So far, Time of Eve has the lowest rating of the movies in this series.  The fault lies more with the constraints of the format than the story itself.  The movie condenses a six episode OVA into an abridged version of one hour and forty-five minutes.  Abridged versions can work: many people praise the Vision of Escaflowne movie–even over the original TV series.  As for myself, Escaflowne is one anime I never wanted to see the end of, so I’ve never given the movie much thought.  With Time of Eve, so much of the story revolves around what’s going on in the character’s heads and the state of their society.  So, abridging our heroes’ journey does the story a disservice.  The audience wished to be immersed in the intellectual lives of the characters, which takes more time in film than in print.

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The movie focuses on how we should treat androids/robots if they became conscious or self-aware.  Blade Runner touches on about the same theme.  It’s fun to dabble with ideas like this in fiction, but it’s a materialistic fallacy to believe consciousness correlates to intelligence or programming of some sort.  Computers can be very smart: they can now best both chess and go professionals.  Computers may even soon have programs which allow them to learn like a human being would.  But, learning and smarts can’t bestow a soul on something.  A mind aware of itself, capable of meditating on first principles, and able to ponder its highest good is a distinct gift given by God to persons–whether human or angelic.

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Be that as it may, how should androids be treated if they had a will of their own?  The straightforward and compassionate answer–the one adopted by the protagonists of Time of Eve–is that we would have to treat them like persons.  Actually, that’s not precisely true: androids were created to serve man and have limited wills rather than free wills.  They do not precisely exist as self-movers in the full sense that human beings are.  Time of Eve goes over three distinct rules which circumscribe the wills of androids.  Man, on the other hand, was created to know, love, and serve God in this life and the next; but, man has the capacity to refuse this calling.  Man’s fundamental vocation to holiness may also be obscured by things like the world, the devil, the flesh, pain, want, suffering, or even by becoming wrapped up in day-to-day life.

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Androids lack the capacity to refuse their purpose or to lose it.  Android nature lacks the free will concomitant with personhood.  You can’t really treat the android as an equal because the android is not equally free.  The end result is that Time of Eve proposes that we treat androids in the way that Christian masters were admonished to treat their slaves.

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This is certainly one solution: while the human slave and the human master share the same essence–a free soul created in the image and likeness of God, the human master and android slave possess different essences: the android has no soul even if it acts in most regards like a human being.  The android remains subhuman and–truth be told–below the beasts.  If your home was on fire, you’d be under more obligation to save your pet cat than your android.  The obligation one would have towards an android in Time of Eve comes down to your obligation to cultivate your property rather than an obligation to respect an android as a person.

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But, creating a robot with the form of a human being creates some interesting problems on the subjective front.  Even with the halo, can your brain actually distinguish between androids and humans?  Will the way you treat androids color the way you treat your fellow human beings?  An android has no intrinsic dignity, but the human form does possess some dignity.  So, one’s first inclination is to treat androids like humans even if objectively they lack the same dignity.

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Well, I won’t answer the question of whether one should treat the android according to objective truth or subjective perception here.  (That’s something for my dear readers to debate in the comments.)  The male characters struck me as rather annoying.  Nagi, the manager of the café, stood out as my clear favorite.  The animation was okay.  Overall, I rate the movie Time of Eve

★★

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11 comments on “Day 7 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Time of Eve

  1. Gaheret says:

    I would say that the main difference between an android and a human is in its form, understood in an Aristotelian sense and as counter-intuitive as that sounds. The human body (face, brain, eyes, hands, limbs) was made to express the spirit, and adapted to it: the voice to speak and hear articulated words, the hand as instrument of instruments, as opposed to a hoof or a claw, able to touch and feel, the brain to feel, process, make conscious and reflect what is happening, the face and the eyes to identify, differentiate and express ourselves… That corresponds to the nature of an “open” being, highly social and principle of its own movement in a higher sense that the rest.

    On the other hand, an android is based in computer science, that is, a vast range of different combinations of some given switches. It makes no difference if the actual hardware is a sphere, a or a sheep: the difference from clockwork mechanics is quantative, not qualitative, and the form is “closed”. The android is always moved by the switch, even if this is aleatory or designed to react to external stimuli. I prefer not to assign machines human features both to avoid confusion and because there is this horrific feeling wherever a “false body” acts as a “real body” as to produce momentary confusion (be it dolls, statues, dead bodies, skeletons, paintings, even masks). If they existed, I would be kind and have good manners (for the same reasons I would not torture a wasp, even if I have no problem with killing them if neccesary) but not open myself to them, as if they were dolls.

    Yet, in fiction the android sometimes embodies the Pygmalion myth, or the Frankenstein myth, or the Pinocchio myth: as a reflection of human nature, a created being with a given purpose which seems its destiny but who trascends it by showing ability to love (or sorrow, in a tragedy), understand and express an unique soul enlights his master in some way. The help comes from an unexpected, overlooked place: he who was regarded as an object is not an object, but a companion. Thus, the actual form in which it comes to being (machine, literary character turned real, sculpture plus magic, revived body, etc., always impossible in the real world, because it would require no less that a new creation by God) it´s secondary, and must be regarded and empathyzed with as a human. I think that is legitimate (in fiction, the man is sub-creator of a secondary world which can differ from the real world as long as it expresses the truth of the human heart in some way), and I can empathyze with those dilemmas: the “correct answer” is to open to the “creature”.

    So I can see two sets of ethics which can be of application here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Form is the proper Aristotelian way to put the difference. I preferred describing the difference as “essence” simply because it is very counterintuitive indeed to say that an android with a personality and a human appearance differs from human beings in form. That human beings bear a divine stamp which androids cannot have because they are products seems simpler.

      To tell you the truth, I’m a very agreeable person. So, when it comes to how to treat androids as we see them in Time of Eve, my default mode would be to treat them as persons if it manifested a kind of personality. If it manifested no personality, however, I can imagine not appreciating something with the form of a human being but no soul. I recently saw a news clip about sex bots, and these things struck me as utterly diabolical. Robots in human form but without personalities would strike me as at least creepy. Indeed, it’s best if robots are not made to look human.

      But, the idea in fictional stories like this is very interesting all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Irina says:

    I did not see the movie but I adored the series. From what I can tell the movie seems like a condensed retelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Medieval Otaku wasn’t a huge fan of Time of Eve (I do think he would have enjoyed the ONA better than the film, and he remarks on the format early in his review), but as usual, he’s able to bring up some thought-provoking questions to the discussion—and this film about how we interact with very lifelike robots is full of them. [Medieval Otaku] […]

    Like

  4. You raise an interesting point, which, incidentally, I indirectly commented on in a post I just wrote.

    Assuming humans do end up creating a “realistic” robot, treating it would be much the same as treating a dog. I mean that in a good way. If you kick a dog, it will hate you. If you pet a dog, it should like you (assuming you have a nice dog, of course). If you abuse a robot, not only do you damage an expensive piece of hardware, you train other people (including children) that an object resembling a human can be abused. That abuse goes into your subconscious and that of others.

    At the same time, if we treat robots with kindness, we create a different dilemma – teaching other humans that the FORM of humanity PLUS a reasonably “intelligent” feedback system is sufficient for something to be equated with human dignity. And since some robots many appear as “smarter” or more “normal” in expression than real people (not to insult retarded people, but yes, they may be considered as “less intelligent” by some people), the dignity starts to be equated with the lowest common denominator, which in this case is the human form.

    This “lowest common denominator” factor is also why people think animals should have “rights”. If you view the world from the belief that all life evolved from common origin, then all life ought to be treated as the same.

    Consequently, I’m of the camp that thinks robots should never be made to resemble human beings. It’s better this way. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Mankind has always had this urge to become the creator himself, so it should be no surprise that the ultimate goal is to create a replicate of the greatest creation in the universe: a human being. Right now, computers are ahead of biotechnology in this regard, but don’t be surprised when in the coming years, biologists start making noticeable advances towards making a human “from scratch” (even though we both know it’ll be a zombie, if it even has as “functioning” brain (one containing alot of electrical activity, albeit meaningless)).

    Thanks for the read! Glad to see someone else isn’t under the delusion that intel=consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that you’re spot on. Mankind has always had the urge to become the Creator Himself. In some regards, this is a positive thing: whenever we make something, we are imitating God in some way and we were created to imitate God. But, in the postmodern times in which we live, some groups of people exist who think that they can completely reshape human nature, live forever on this earth because of medical advances, or even create a new morality out of whole cloth. Transhumanist ideas are interesting, but I hope none of these become reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Luminas says:

    Luminas here! Here are some of my thoughts on this.

    There’s a famous thought experiment in philosophy known as the “philosophical zombie” problem which nicely illustrates the problem you are trying to drive at here. Basically, if you create something that can more or less do what a human brain does in the way that a human brain does it, have you created a being with consciousness? Atheists, particularly physicalist philosophers, believe “No, you can’t do it, because if you created something that functioned exactly like a human brain it would generate consciousness. You would have created the ‘ghost’ by creating the mechanics that give rise to it.” Your average non-physicalist philosopher goes “But if we can even conceive of it, it’s at least conceptually possible, and therefore it could exist. We really have no way whatsoever of even knowing that the guy next to us on the bus *isn’t* a philosophical zombie.”

    But what’s more important for the purposes of thoughts on androids is this: You’re proposing that an android with the ability to think and learn like a human is, essentially, a philosophical zombie: a more or less autonomous, intelligent being without consciousness. You postulate that these would have to be able to exist based on your Christian beliefs. But well…

    “Computers may even soon have programs which allow them to learn like a human being would. But, learning and smarts can’t bestow a soul on something.”

    On the physicalist end of things, many neurological researchers on the cutting edge of consciousness research are proposing exactly that. Many of the running theories postulate that consciousness is a byproduct of the decision-making process in the brain. That is, the decisions themselves come first, and the brain constructs as a consequence or as a happy accident an explanation or an “I” for these decisions. We already know that the decisions come *before* the “I” actually becomes aware of them, as the product of the other parts of the mind and brain. In other words we can theorize that the ability of the mind to witness itself, and thereby construct a coherent narrative of its own struggle for survival, benefits a good many creatures and particularly us. We have the most detailed, complex, and layered variant of this ability, and therefore have the gift of an ego, and therefore egotism. So this argument would postulate that an android with the same basic *nature* as a human (that is, designed to replicate a human exactly) indeed has “a soul” and “a self.” But, of course, this is a very atheistic and cut and dry sort of reasoning which says that the “ghost” is the brain….and that it will die with it.

    My life has created a wealth of evidence both for and against the “soul” as independent from the brain. On the one hand, my particular brain actually produces *two,* the other seeming to imply he is “a demon” or “the Devil.” More or less; The picture he paints is a good deal more complicated. The second guy appeared, according to autobiographical legend and hearsay between us (really old memories from early childhood stop being accurate and end up turning into more of a decent guess as to what happened), after I stopped breathing during a seizure and almost died. I’ve described him before, and he’s been around for almost a decade now with basically no negative impacts on my mental or physical health. What’s more significant about him (besides what I happen to believe *about* him as a spiritual matter) is that objectively, he’s proof that there isn’t a “one soul, one body” limit in the strictest sense. And there are plenty of other people who also meet that peculiar description, having developed multiple “ghosts” from the same mind.

    But on the other hand, we have my Mom, who developed early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It took almost *the entire disease course* for my Mom to lose “the ghost.” It was around when her body’s ability to regulate itself and absorb food was broken. It was around when she couldn’t say more than a few garbled sounds, when her brain was dying and poisoned on the inside. Only when her blood pressure had bottomed out and she was on the doorsteps of Heaven did she truly appear to be “absent.” That’s proof that whatever consciousness is, it’s *much* more primitive and much more basic than most neurologists believe. It is definitely not a higher-order thinking process.

    So consequently I haven’t come to any conclusions, because I have a reason to believe “souls” exist and that they don’t. I figure that I would give an android, in that case, the benefit of the doubt. God works in mysterious ways, and it is my belief that more conscious beings exist than just us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luminas says:

      Well, correction: two decades and three years on Mar if the earliest manifestations of his presence are attributed as actually being him. Only almost a decade in terms of actually getting a straight answer out of him, which can often be as futile as trying to herd cats.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry that it’s taken me so long to respond! I was quite preoccupied during March. But, I’ve just about finished a week long vacation, and I hope to be more engaged with my dear readers now.

      I would also say that there are conscious beings outside of human kind. The image of God is also present in angels and demons–even if the latter have lost their likeness to God. I don’t believe that human beings can stamp the divine image onto a machine. The concept which you mention about decisions coming before an ego and how decisions allow one to understand oneself are pretty interesting. But, that seems to describe a highly developed ego, while there might also be an unrefined ego based on human needs, which in turn motivate one’s decision making and lead one to a higher level of consciousness.

      After all, it is the case that our decisions sometimes leave us unsatisfied. We don’t have perfect control over shaping our souls. We can carry on along a certain path and be shaped by our decisions and then believe that the product of our own decisions is not the true self. They’re never going to make a machine capable of disillusionment and depression!

      That the soul is more than the brain seems to be highlighted by the fact that every one of our cells is capable of holding memory somehow. People who have had organ transplants sometimes gain the memories of the donor for example.

      The idea of each body having more than one soul actually has a long history. (The Franciscans vociferously argued each person had three souls–vegetative, sensitive, and intellective–against the Scholastics who argued the one body, one soul thesis.) While I would say that everyone has one immortal soul, intelligent people–people who know how to think–often have different…how should I put it? Seats of thought? To really think, one has to have different voices capable of arguing with one another and then a central self who can refine these threads of argument and articulate the best path. Emperor Charles V said: “To possess another language is to possess another soul.” The West from time immemorial has always made students learn Latin and/or Greek so that they could imbibe another culture’s reasoning and make themselves better thinkers. Some Spanish speakers in the USA who were forced to learn English in school actually saw their grades improve. It’s a shame that most schools have relegated language learning to a secondary field–though, there are other ways to graft a second perspective onto one’s soul.

      As regards to Mar, I always feel that you’re missing your guardian angel to balance him out. After all, each person is supposed to have two geniuses pulling them this way and that–an angel and a demon. You should ask after your guardian angel and see what’s become of him. 🙂

      Like

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