The Epistemology of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

The Main Theme of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime known for its epistemology, unique world, and fantastic animation. Apart from having interesting characters and insightful themes that leave a considerable impact, the story is about two brothers who try to reclaim what they have lost. Despite being a simple story, Hiromu Arakawa confuses her interpretation of postmodernism against modernism, the prisoners of war, and politics. However, she conveys every theme in almost every breath of her work, namely nihilism and existence. The show is an ode, humanity in so many ways that the bonding of the message looks perfect. The story follows two young alchemists, Edward and Alphonse Elric.

When Edward and Alphonse’s mother died, they tried to bring her back to life by transmuting humans. Being a forbidden technique in alchemy, they paid for it. Edward lost his legs, and Alphonse lost his physical body. Fortunately, Edward can perform a soul exchange by stuffing Alphonse into a suit of armor at his own expense. The whole story follows the Elric brothers on their journey to obtain the philosopher’s stone, bypassing the limits of alchemy to allow Alphonse to regain his body. The idea of alchemy, the philosopher’s stone, and the creation of the homunculi are among the many themes in the series.

The Epistemic Theories

First, the central theme of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is about the knowledge’s study or the epistemology of epistemic theories. In philosophy, epistemic theories are an attempt to analyze truth in an epistemic sense. The epistemic, such as belief, perspective, justification, and belief, are classified in verification and pragmatic theory. Being a theory of verification of propositions, the typical claim of truth can be reduced to a process of verification, only relative valid if the proposition, roughly speaking, is true. If accepted or supported by the perspective, perhaps, each conception of epistemic truth can experience an advocate in favor of a combination. There are two main concepts in the series, namely truth, and value.

The truth, which is the law of equal exchange, is a highlight in the series. Truth is opposition in focusing on epistemic theory as the law of equivalent exchange. The law of equivalent exchange is a game of zeros. The homunculus is in opposition to a pragmatic view. On the other hand, Alphonse becomes an opposition from the verificationist view. To be able to meet Truth, there is a portal of frontal epistemology. In the end, Edward exchanged the portal with his brother, meaning that there is no alternative way to reach the truth.

The Law of Equivalent Exchange

For Edward, instead of thinking about how truth and alchemy work rather than epistemic, he relies more on the dilemma of human emotion than epistemology. In addition to the homunculus focusing on oppositional numbers, the philosopher’s stone became a rule in exchange law. When Edward learns that the exchange of human lives is the material for making the philosopher’s stone, he realizes that this is something that science does not usually do. However, economics exchanges energy, the age for money, making humans the core resource of economics and business. That is also true of Shou Tucker, the alchemist who created a talking chimera.

Tucker later created a second “talking chimera” by transmuting his daughter and dogs. In essence, Truth becomes a real being, a symbol of God and knowledge of the world. It raised a question when Edward and Truth have a meeting. If humans want to acquire knowledge and actual truth, what do humans do with the knowledge? By focusing heavily on truth values, the show criticizes faith not in its place when God appears by asking for a philosophical perspective. More on which, a rival to the epistemic approach to scientific criticism exists.

The Moral Relativism

In detail, moral relativism says that people disagree based on what morality is. Without an expressed judgment on the desire, it is a disagreement from moral meta-ethics, neither objectively right nor wrong. Normatively, every human being should tolerate the behavior of others when there is considerable disagreement about the morality of certain things. According to Richard Rorty, moral relativism believes that the reasons for choosing between philosophical opinions are less algorithmic than one might think.

Every conceptual idea is as valid as any other idea. In general, it becomes a direct antithesis to moral idealism. The distinction between idealist and relativist viewpoints is often unclear through the idealist framework, as with many vague concepts. In the end, the idea attracted attention in various fields, including science and religion. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, moral relativism triggers an epistemology of background conflict where the Ishvalan War is caused by cultural and religious differences between Ishvalans and Amestrians.

The Ishvalan War

It all comes to a head when an Amestrian soldier shoots an Ishvalan child. The State Alchemists were brought in, effectively killing many Ishvalans after seven years in the Ishvalan War. Besides the theme is very familiar in real life, the issue of morality in the show always arises when dealing with war, psychology, and its impact. The Ishvalan War is a war of extinction where the use of alchemists’ power wiped out the entire population. Apart from taking references from Nazism, the Fuhrer Bradley was the one who first came up with an idea for the mainstream state-sponsored alchemists. Bradley called the war an attempt to create human weapons.

With enough explicit references to WWII Europe, it was one of the first wars where audiences saw science and its full destructive power. However, the relationship is not too far away. The idea that science can advance society while destroying its children is, it seems, a simple example of the view that science is good and that religion is bad. If an individual follows science blindly, then science itself becomes a religion. An individual must balance all aspects of life not to be too overwhelmed by religious knowledge or knowledge so as not to lose morality and humanism.

Shou Tucker

Alchemists are scientists, and they do not believe in a creator and God. They obey the physical laws that govern the world and pursue the truth. In essence, science is good, and religion is bad. However, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood turned it wrong in such epistemology. Throughout the rest of the story, the audience sees how the horrors of following science blindly are. When the Elric brothers go to see a state alchemist famous for creating a “talking chimera” named, again, Shou Tucker, they hope that scientists can give them some possible insight into how to reconnect Alphonse’s soul with his body. Tucker struggled to recreate success in his previous experiment.

If he did not do another successful experiment, he might be removed from his state alchemist position. When the Elric brothers showed up to Tucker the next day, the little girl and the dog were not there to greet them with a smile. Hearing Tucker’s shout of joy, the Elric brothers and the audience were presented with the most heart-wrenching scene in history, especially anime. Treated to an image of a combination of a domestic dog and Nina, the Elric brothers were disgusted by what they had seen. Tucker grabs them and hysterically declares that they, too, have chosen the path of the alchemist themselves.

The Dualism of Mind-body

RenĂ© Descartes embarks on a quest where he mentions all previous beliefs in doubt in his Meditations on First Philosophy. To find out what he can believe, he discovers that he can doubt whether he has a body. However, he could not doubt whether he had any thoughts. It gave his first hunch that mind and body were different things. According to him, the mind is a “thinking thing” and an immaterial substance. The body regulates normal body functions. The difference between mind and body, according to him, is that which is thinking where the thing is not extended.

The straightforward idea of the body as being that which is extended is not thinking. Essentially, Descartes imagines how God clearly, creates the mind and the body in a single Cartesian dualism. Cartesian dualism is also often associated with a more specific notion of causal interaction through the pineal. However, the explanation is unsatisfactory because all interactions between mind and body require direct intervention from God. The right state of mind and body is just an opportunity for such an intervention, not a natural cause. After all, apart from Descartes, many philosophers have argued that all causation is natural except between mind and body.

The Emphasizes of Dualism

Descartes developed the idea of a mind-body distinction to prove the possibility of an immortal soul further. The epistemology of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood emphasizes how the theme of mind-body is highlighted. Alphonse lived because his thoughts were implanted in his armor. His armor is an extension of his mind, forced to struggle with his humanity because people continue to avoid him just because of his appearance. However, he constantly insists that he is a human with a soul and still feels human emotions.

The theme of humanity is constant, of which Alphonse and the chimera are just two examples. Homunculi raises the most questions about the nature of humanity. If the audience focuses on physical appearance, then all homunculi can be considered humans because they have a physical form. However, Greed is the realism of how emotions, humanism, and mind-body are very thick. Compared to other homunculi who are very single-minded, even playing human, he shows emotion despite failing to have feelings.

The Law of Personhood

Personhood is the status of being a person, defined as a controversial topic in philosophy and law. In addition to being closely related to the concepts of law, equality, and freedom, only an individual or legal entity has the right to protection and responsibility. It is a constant topic of international debate, critically questioned over the abolition of human and non-human slavery. In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the potential epistemology of an individual’s personality qualifies as a person.

Both Sloth and Gluttony were actively too shallow to consider their existence as homunculi. On the other hand, Envy, Pride, and Lust play a largely one-dimensional role. However, Wrath and Greed are slightly easier to serve as examples of personhood. Wrath was raised from childhood to compete for the throne of Amestris, a warrior among warriors trained in combat and the many other skills of a competent head of state. In essence, he has a purpose, a rival, and knows how to hurt. As Fuhrer, he also had a family, a human wife, and a child.

Wrath and Greed

The latter is none other than the Pride homunculi despite Wrath stating that he is willing to choose his wife to be his partner. If the audience refuses to believe him, the audience is still led to believe that he knows how to fake humanity. Wrath has even the most troublesome of self-awareness and mental formation. His inability to empathize limits his genuine emotions. However, it is still there. Similarly, Wrath’s consciousness arises about his interactions with the Father, man, and the world.

However, it is no different from the way the average human consciousness understands when it comes to spiritualism. Apart from depending on the form of sensation, on the other hand, there is Greed, who goes beyond such qualifications. Greed abandons Father and the other homunculi, turning away from the creation plans and wanting the power necessary to satisfy his ego and bring the world under his control. His greed extends to others, finding himself unable to remain subservient to both humans and the homunculus, as is human nature in general.

The Non-spiritual God

In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, alchemy has a large number of spiritual and religious epistemology. Truth plays God, the vantage point of development between Edward with the equal exchange. The picture gives rise to an idea where the alchemist asks for truth, to God, to allow Edward, and the other alchemists, to perform alchemy successfully. Truth monitored every alchemy experiment, immediately summoning and punishing an alchemist who violated a taboo. It took Edward and Alphonse’s legs to try to bring their mother back to life. In addition, it takes Izumi’s internal organs to try to resurrect her son.

Father was sent to hell for daring to leave the little humanity he had. He also wanted God’s power. In essence, Truth punishes those who directly oppose the natural order to require them to learn such a lesson well. However, ironically, for Father, humans are fearless to play God, which pays a heavy price for arrogance. When Edward and Father meet to talk about Truth, Edward offers Truth to get Alphonse back by offering his ability to perform alchemy.


Truth doubts Edward’s belief in alchemy without a portal. Even though Edward is aware of such a thing, he knows how alchemy leads him astray and thinks it is just arrogance. He was essentially just an ordinary human who could not save a little girl even with alchemy alone. Edward does not need alchemy as a means of becoming more than human, shocking Truth to admit Edward’s answer in humbling himself and knowing his place in the world.

Therefore, Truth rewards Edward for his humility by allowing him to return to Alphonse’s physical body, freeing him from alchemy and making him an ordinary human being. In Edward and Truth’s meeting, simply put, alchemy was a test on Truth’s side. The goal was to see if humanity would ever see that alchemy was not a miracle. It is a means, a tool, and self-awareness in realizing every place of an alchemist and a human in the mortal but simple order of nature.

Between One and All

The demeaning philosophy emphasizes that human beings are not higher, middle, or lower. It is aware of how humans are aware of the universe, even though everything connects humans. The audience can conclude how Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood sees such a place as a beautiful place. Other elements elevate humanity where Arakawa presents such an element in her masterpiece.

At the end of the day, there is nothing in between philosophy and relevant or any other discipline with science. The only property that philosophy has is the ability to collect nonsense. The nonsense does not check a harsh skepticism. In retrospect, the essay took so much time to write. For all the shortcomings, the writer can further elaborate on as many points as possible. For other reasons, it is too much, to be honest.


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