I’m not a vast anime connoisseur. But Full Metal Alchemist in its miscellaneous incarcountries gets so much hype, I had to give it a watch. And while the storyline is pretty great, and also while it’s based upon a fascinating concept, I found myself unable to make it all the means to the finish.

You are watching: For what could equal the value of a human soul

I mean, just look at this:


Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t take a show seriously as soon as it looks choose this. And this is supposed to be a severe present. It’s more than likely one of the reasons I’m not a huge consumer of anime.

So I’m coming into this debate from the perspective of someone who hasn’t finiburned the show (neither FMA nor FMAB) and also doesn’t recognize if these ideas are ever fully faced. I acunderstanding that. But I’m digging in anymeans.

Let’s talk about indistinguishable exadjust.

“Humantype cannot acquire anypoint without initially providing somepoint in return. To attain, somepoint of equal worth need to be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exreadjust.”

Alright, let’s start establishing some rules here. Besides being a principal of equal profession, we understand that humale resurrections don’t job-related, although I believe they theoretically could under the appropriate scenarios. But not only execute these kinds of transmutations seem to always fail, they go absolutely nuts. When Ed and also Al attempt to resurrect their mother, they finish up resurrecting some nasty mess of body components and also shed Al’s whole body in the procedure. In order to prevent losing Al’s soul as well, Ed is able to efficiently bind it to a suit of armor.

So let’s pick this incident acomponent a small little bit. Ed sacrifices his arm in order to retain Al’s spirit. So instantly we know tright here is a distinction between utilizing huguy souls in a transmutation before they have actually passed right into the immortality vs after. Whereas before passing on it appears to work simply fine, after passing on it becomes virtually impossible.

We additionally recognize that the retention of Al’s spirit was indeed an exreadjust because Ed hregarding sacrifice an arm in order to do it. With that in mind, we deserve to look at this case from one of 2 perspectives:

Al’s spirit was not an inherent component of the original resurrection exreadjust attempt but was sindicate going to be shed bereason his body was gone. From this perspective, the worth of a non-departed humale spirit is exactly equal to one huguy arm bereason that was all that was exchanged in order to retain it.Or, Al’s soul was part of what would certainly have actually been exadjusted in the failed resurrection attempt as “the world” attempted to collect things whose sum worth would equal the worth of what was being returned. In this instance, bereason the spirit was currently part of an exchange, the effective sacrifice of Ed’s arm in order to retain it means that the spirit was actually worth much less than Ed’s arm. This is because the arm was adequate not just to retain the soul itself, yet likewise for the failed resurrection to complete.

We’ll come earlier to this later on.

Now let’s talk about value.

Tbelow is a certain conflict going on in some starray corners of the Internet ideal currently about the price of a huguy heart. Essentially, here’s what one theory says (some punctuation and spelling fixes added for clarity):

“It seems to be a matter of conflict at the minute as to the worth of a humale spirit as per FMA. Everyone wants to say that a humale soul is pricemuch less and that is why eextremely humale trans-mutation attempt falls short. A Film Theory episode argues that maybe it’s bereason their formula for exactly how to make a humale being was wrong and also that this is why all attempts failed and civilization have actually rejected this bereason it goes against canon, etc.

“Let me ask this. Could a perboy exchange a spirit for an additional soul? Could he/she sacrifice themselves to carry someone else back to life?

“If your answer is no bereason no two souls would be equal to each other, then this indicates that there should be some measurement/quantity/worth to a huguy spirit that would make an additional valuable than the other. If your answer is yes, then that would certainly mean that tright here IS a price to a humale heart, and hence a humale spirit is NOT priceless but is, as far as we recognize, only equivalent to itself, but there IS a price for it and also it might be obtainable later.”

When I check out this I came to be a lot less interested in why humale transmutation attempts fail and also a lot even more interested in the idea of pricelessness and also how it applies to tantamount exchange.

I think the writer of the over quote has actually it wrong as soon as he says that the capability to exadjust one soul for an additional indicates that the heart is not priceless. Pricelessness, after all, is simply one more means to talk about infinity.

When numbers reach infinity, the normal rules start to break dvery own. You can’t, for example, include 1 to infinity and then meacertain it to be any type of larger than it already was. You additionally can’t subtract 1 from infinity and meacertain it to be any smaller sized. People have posited that there can be infinities of different sizes, however that’s a theory that deserve to never before be put into exercise. If you have, for example, the limitless set of all entirety numbers inserted next to the limitless collection of all whole numbers and all the decimals in between them, you will certainly uncover that by eincredibly measurement, you can never actually meacertain one to be bigger than the other. They will both always be of boundless size.

With that in mind, let’s imagine a pricemuch less object, maybe a humale spirit. If a human spirit is priceless, then it is the extremely nature of that pricelessness that would enable you to exreadjust one soul for an additional. In other words, if the souls have boundless worth, then you might never meacertain the worth of one heart to be larger or smaller sized than an additional. And if they can never before be measured as different in value, they have to unavoidably be considered as being the same and also therefore exchangeable.

And now we have the right to begin to cheat the mechanism.

If infinities can never before be measured as unequal in worth, then tright here would certainly be nopoint avoiding you from exaltering one pricemuch less object for a thousand also or a million, or even a billion priceless objects.

Think of it like this: if the value of a huguy spirit is infinite, what is the worth of two souls? Still infinite. Ten souls? Still unlimited. Infinite souls? Still unlimited. You deserve to not meacertain a distinction in worth and therefore, you can theoretically sacrifice yourself in order to resurrect everyone else that has ever before died ever.

But you will no doubt start to find factors why this logic doesn’t work. You might say, for instance, that one infinity is inherently unequal to unlimited infinities. Trading one soul for ten, for example, need to still enable you to make a comparikid in between one and ten, in which instance ten is bigger. But if we proceed dvery own this route, all we execute is introduce a new problem.

The brand-new trouble introduced is the definition of worth, just how that is assigned, and also who assigns it. Does worth describe the amount of physical pshort articles exchanged? Clbeforehand that is the basis for alchemy in FMA. But consider this quote from Ed:

“Alchemy: the scientific research of expertise the structure of issue, breaking it down, then rebuilding it as somepoint else. It have the right to even make gold from lead. But alchemy is a scientific research so it need to follow the herbal laws: to create, something of equal value should be shed. This is the principal of equivalent exreadjust. But I learned that night that some things cannot be measured on a straightforward range. My brvarious other and I kbrand-new the laws of science, of identical exadjust. The game compelled sacrifice, that something had to be taken from us, yet we assumed tbelow was nothing more we could lose….We were wrong.”

So FMA introduces two scales: the scientific, matter-for-matter scale; and also the metaphysical principle of sacrifice that “cannot be measured on a simple range.”

Why Sacrifice Matters

If sacrifice plays into the equation, then we now need to admit that the sentimental worth a perkid asindications to an item affects its total worth in every exreadjust because of clinical legislation. FMA indicates on multiple occasions that it is this certain kind of worth that provides a departed huguy soul so almost difficult to retrieve. And if that’s true, then it means sentimental worth deserve to vastly outweigh the material value of an item.

With this in mind, let’s think around pennies. If I have a solitary penny, I must be able to transmute that penny into an extra ambiguously shaped blob of copper. (Of course, we’ll totally overlook the reality that, in truth, all that explosive light and power released upon transmutation have the right to only be the outcome of some matter being converted to energy and then shed in the transport, for this reason breaking the equivalency preeminence in various other methods.)

But currently let’s say this penny was offered to me by my father on the day he died, that it had been handed dvery own from father to kid in my family for generations, and also that, on peak of this, culture overall ascribes financial worth to it as long as it is in the form of a penny. As shortly as I transmute that penny right into a blob of copper, I’m sacrificing a good bit of metaphysical value for absolutely nopoint in return yet a blob of copper of indistinguishable dimension. If the cosmos doesn’t compensate me for that, then Ed and also Al shouldn’t need to compensate the world for got sentipsychological worth if they attempt to resurrect their mom. It should simply be issue for issue.

You may be inclined to respond that someexactly how the universe would certainly compensate me. Maybe the blob of copper is larger than the original penny. I would certainly, of course, respond by asking you exactly how exactly sentimentality can be measured against issue. But also much better, I’d take you dvery own the road of considering the concept of an item that carries a specific sentimentality worth for one perkid, but a completely different value for another perkid.

Anvarious other Way to Cwarm the System

Suppose I don’t care at all about quartz but I have a friend who is obsessed through collecting it. Due to the fact that I ascribe no sentimentality to quartz, I must be able to transmute a normal rock right into a block of quartz and also then sindicate offer it to my friend. In this situation, I stand in as a proxy for my frifinish to execute the exreadjust and can thereby bypass the sentimentality measure innate in the exreadjust. And if this is possible, then any type of alchemist must have the ability to resurrect the soul of any type of perchild they don’t have a sentipsychological connection to.

But let’s assume the cosmos would certainly prevent this. If so, it deserve to just proccasion it by ascribing an intrinsic, metaphysical value to eextremely object fairly than enabling a person’s own sentimentality to play a function in the exchange, or we would certainly have to admit that indistinguishable extransforms can never take place due to the opportunity that some day later on some perchild can obtain their hands on a transmuted object that carries more sentipsychological value for them than it did for the person that transmuted it. If among these 2 prealerts isn’t taken by the world, the system is quickly cheated.

So if the cosmos won’t let us cheat the system by perdeveloping a transmutation on behalf of one more perkid, then the huguy resurrection problem have to be brought about by the world ascribing a higher-than-average value to huguy souls, not bereason a perchild ascribes sentipsychological value to the perkid being resurrected.

Retracing Steps

Let’s acquire back to our thought experiment entailing infinities. We’re currently in a place wbelow we have to assume that the universe does not care around our own sentimentality, however just ascribes a metaphysical value to specific objects. We’re likewise assuming that the value ascribed to a huguy spirit is boundless, otherwise it deserve to be traded making use of matter for issue.

If the cosmos doesn’t care around our own sentimentality then tright here is no reason for it to calculate that trading ten souls for one is an unequal profession. If the cosmos just has its very own worth assignment to go by then the metaphysical value of ten infinitely valued items is the very same as one. Any difference in material exadjust deserve to easily be comprised for.

So if equivalent exreadjust exists, we should be able to cwarmth it. If our very own sentimentality matters in regards to value, we can have actually someone else carry out the exchange for us. If it doesn’t, we deserve to trade a solitary priceless item for unlimited pricemuch less items. And that’s why it doesn’t job-related.

Additional Questions

One potential avenue we haven’t explored is the opportunity that the worth of a heart isn’t actually priceless but is ssuggest very high. This would certainly theoretically soptimal us from trading one item for many type of, yet it would likewise leave the impossible-to-answer question of what determines that value so arbitrarily.

Also, let’s get earlier to Ed’s arm vs. Al’s heart. In light of everything we recognize around identical exchange, how in the world was Ed able to exadjust his arm for a soul? The fact that this happened indicates that the worth of a soul is not in fact priceless yet is instead pretty quickly measured in product prices. Or it can mean that, in reality, transmutation of a spirit is just as simple and also normal as anypoint else and also that the only real problem is that you can’t obtain one back after it’s passed with the Gate.

Also, from the sentimentality perspective, we’d be forced to assume that Ed cared equally around his brother and his arm. But if that were true, why would he have actually been incentivized to trade one for the other? And even if he were, the straightforward act that he perdeveloped the exchange need to be an indicator that he cared more about Al than his arm, thus lfinishing additionally evidence to the principle that sentimentality can not be taken into account bereason it would have made that exreadjust unequal, or to the concept that a soul is actually worth much less than an arm before it has fully departed right into the immortality.

A soul can, under the appropriate viewpoints, have actually some product value and also that value could be considered to be less than a thick, hefty, humale arm. But if so, then whatever metaphysical value the cosmos ascribes to it deserve to just be huge sufficient to comprise the distinction.


FMA more than likely jumped the gun on the whole arm-for-a-spirit thing. It seems to make it pretty difficult to nail down specifically what the rules of indistinguishable exchange actually are.

As I sassist before, if tantamount exadjust exists, we need to be able to cheat it, yet canon insists that we can’t and also I can’t find any kind of excellent factor why not.

See more: A Large Landmass That Is Smaller Than A Continent, Subcontinent

This makes me sad. So here’s what I think the genuine solution is:

Alchemical transmutation is the transforming of an object from one create right into one more. Gold into lead, for example. If a humale being is the combicountry of a material body and also a soul, and if the actual essence of the person is in the soul, then you would certainly never before have the ability to resurrect a person ssuggest by converting one substance right into another. You would certainly must retrieve the original heart in order to acquire earlier the original person. This, of course, has actually nopoint to execute through transmutation. You’d have to transmute materials into a physical body and then you’d must bind the original spirit to that body as Ed did with Al’s spirit and also the suit of armor. So I think the just actual reason that resurrections don’t job-related is that it’s not a issue of transmutation at all and also it simply isn’t fairly so easy to acquire access to a person’s original soul.