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Galactus -- But Thou Must! A Philosophical Analysis

Updated: Apr 30

A war man with a guitar
AI Image by Mr. Elad Muskatel

Galactus: The Cosmic Devourer

A certain video game I played has introduced me to one of the most powerful characters in the history of fiction, a cosmic god called Galactus. In short, he is a seemingly omnipotent entity who is neither good nor bad necessarily, but the fact that he needs to devour worlds in order to sustain himself puts him on the villainous side.

There was a certain anecdote I found, where some other character asked him why he does the things he does. Galactus replied: "If you had to step on ant hills in order to survive, would you do it?"

A Cosmic Carnivore

Galactus is only "evil" due to his necessity to consume worlds and, thus, kill countless beings who are but bits of nutrition to him. If his hunger wasn't powerful enough to demand the lives of countless civilizations, then he could've been perhaps less evil, if evil at all.

In the past, I have regarded evil as a concept that is done out of maliciousness, with maliciousness being inflicting suffering or damage on others on purpose. However, when you need to destroy entire worlds and the species in them just to survive, the original definition of evil that I've given it becomes problematic. He's nothing more than a force of nature, but in fiction he's done far greater harm than the most evil of real-life humans. That's without the necessary malicious intentions said humans need to have, to be evil.

It is not the case where you're evil while you think you're doing the right thing, like Hitler and the Nazis thought; Galactus is an example of a character that is evil simply due to a drive that exists in all of us -- the drive of hunger. How strange it is, indeed, to be evil incarnate and a cosmic horror just because you're hungry.

In a sense, Galactus is very human, or simply very biologic. He has an inherit drive to survive, a drive strong enough to keep him away from putting himself in harm's way, and thus, he obeys the biological imperative to keep being alive. The only reason, therefore, for his "evil", is because he is in a cosmic rank of the universe's food chain.

It exists in any carnivore animal, as well as it exists in us humans, or at least in those who choose to not be vegetarian. I was vegetarian for years, but eventually gave up on it because the replacements to meat didn't made me satisfied.

Thus, with a portion of regret, I returned eating meat to this day. If I was a less hungry person, I would've considered more seriously returning to being a vegetarian. If I had an even smaller hunger, I'd might even considered becoming a vegan, who knows!

Hunger, Morality, and the Cosmic Scale

The reason why I brought up this character is because he reminds me of myself a bit. Countless chicken were slaughtered for my satiation, and even if I didn't eat or order them, someone else would've.

The same goes for fish and any other biological corpse I've eaten throughout my life, and made me become the mountain of a man I am today. Many of us humans are "evil" due to the same reasoning Galactus is -- because we are far superior on the food chain, compared to other beings in this world.

I can understand the logic behind vegetarianism because I used to be one myself. No matter how one would put it, the demand for meat is the demand of murder. Of cows, chickens, fish and so on. I am quite envious of those who are able to exist outside this demand, but I'm afraid I cannot even if I wanted to; a meatless life for me is a life with hunger, and I am a very hungry person, as taller people need to consume more calories.

During my former job at National Service, I used to go on lunch breaks at the hospital's cafeteria. After receiving my food, I was told by a staff worker to return and he gave me another slice of meat, saying that I deserve it because I'm big. Anyways, I now realize that another being have scarified to me, because of my build. I guess that is my sole regret at being tall and large.

Hunger, therefore, when it comes to organisms, is a necessary evil, just as it is in the wilderness. The reasons why animals hunt for their prey isn't to have fun but to ensure the possibility of living another day, hence why when you're a carnivore, someone has to be sacrificed for your survival, and that, you see, is the basic horror of consuming meat -- that for some, not necessarily humans, murder must be committed.

Are all carnivores evil creatures? Be reasonable, please. If Galactus is simply at a planetary-scale size, and is a carnivore... does that make him evil for seeking to survive by eating planets?

The alternative is of course one's own death. The best thing a cosmic world eater can do in the name of good is to kill themselves, since doing so would mean that countless other lives would be spared. However, survival-wise, that would be a dumb idea even if the logic behind it is correct.

It is similar to the classic train dilemma in moral philosophy -- would you choose to kill a single person or a group of people? Only, in this case, the former would be you instead, sacrificed for the greater good, against your own biological imperative to survive.

This is... quite a dark topic to discuss, I understand, but philosophizing sometimes leads to this, hence why I find it extremely difficult to be kid friendly even though I don't write about adult-related stuff.

Perhaps due to the fact that death can at times be a dominant topic in philosophy, it is not an ideal thing for children to study. Socrates, the father of western philosophy, basically sacrificed his life by drinking poisonous wine in the name of his values.

Nietzsche spent the last decade of his life in a psychiatric ward after he had a severe mental breakdown; Diogenes was a disgusting homeless guy who urinated in public. You can't just expect philosophy to be kid-friendly when something fatal, ugly, or dark is discussed, because that's very hard.

You see, kids need to be sheltered from the darker shades of reality (like from violence) in order to grow mentally healthy. And philosophy, I'm afraid, is not for those who wish or need to be sheltered from existence. This is why I'm against trigger warnings, and why there might be times where I would offend someone even if I didn't intend to at all. the person themselves would be offended indirectly. It's because social conventions are also a tool to shelter us from uncomfortable truths. Such cowardice.

From Galactus to Ourselves

Thus, when characters such as Galactus are analyzed, it would be difficult to do so in front of children, simply because this character can reveal to us the horror of being eaten, or having your existence sacrificed for someone else who needs you dead and consumed.

And that is why, perhaps, children might want to regard other beings, such as animals, as, you know, beings. As creatures that think and have feelings, too. If we truly care for other beings, we would not go in the carnivore-ish path of Galactus, the World Eater, and we won't eat much of the world ourselves, as we currently do.

No. We would have a greater empathic capacity, necessary to understand the suffering of others, and not disregard it. For morality lies in the reduction of another's suffering.

And as long as we will have an increasing lack of empathy, we will resume arguing with each other, heatedly and unnecessarily, on the smallest of subjects in a pseudo-masochistic manner, until we're sore.

So much suffering in reality can be taken care of with empathy...

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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