Homunculus Is By Your Side


One term I’ve come across in several places but haven’t been entirely sure what it means is “homunculus.” So I looked it up on Wikipedia, everyone’s favorite source for information that is probably at least partially true, and the indication given there is that it can mean several different things. It means “little man,” and the common denominator here seems to be that a homunculus is a tiny but fully-formed human being. In alchemy, it refers to a human created through the manipulation of chemicals. Of particular interest to me, however, is its use in preformationism, or the idea that a human exists in miniature form inside the sperm.

Pretty disturbing, really, and obviously no longer at all valid. I do have to wonder why Creationists aren’t still using it, however, because it goes against evolution much more than the half-assed ideas of modern Intelligent Design advocates. If a human is fully formed even before being born, does that mean that a pre-born man already has sperm inside of him? If so, then I suppose those sperm must also contain people, meaning life is never created. As such, if all humans came from a common ancestor as Creationists believe, then they were all formed at once. Every generation down to the last existed in miniature form inside Adam’s own body. Of course, this theory is also quite misogynistic, as it holds that women contribute no genetic material whatsoever to their children, and simply provide a place for them to grow. This leads me to wonder how proponents of the idea explained that kids often looked like their mothers, but the whole thing is pretty cockamamie anyway. Apparently it was Pythagoras who first came up with it and Aristotle expanded on it, and we all know how much of a hard-on the church leaders had for Aristotle. He was a pagan, sure, but Christianity is largely derived from Greek philosophy. If Wikipedia is to be believed, preformationism was pretty widely accepted up until the seventeenth century, when the role of the egg in conception was discovered. What’s kind of funny is that preformationism was featured in Family Guy, with both Stewie and his half-brother Bertram shown at different times as homunculi in Peter’s body.

This entry was posted in Alchemy, Evolution, Genetics, Greek Philosophy, Philosophy, Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Homunculus Is By Your Side

  1. Bryan Babel says:

    An interesting literary example of this is in “Tristram Shandy,” in which it is posited, ‘Is a son related to his mother?’ if preformationism is true.

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