Langford, Glenn. "Who's who in the land of Oz". Philosophy, Vol. 54, No. 207 (Jan., 1979), pp. 118-121, Cambridge University Press
In this philosophy piece by Glenn Langford, he raises the question of whether the Tin Man is considered to be alive and goes further to ask what it actually means to be alive. Firstly, if something seems to be living, then we consider it to be alive. Secondly, humans provide behavioral requirements to consider something living. He raises the point that, if something appeared to be a man and was considered alive, but upon closer inspection as found to be mechanical, it might still be considered alive, but just not a man. The tin man seems to satisfy the behavioral requirements for being alive as he can think, speak, and act. He brings up the subject of personal identity and the idea of one’s memories. If one things he is alive, and a man, then he must surely be a man and alive. If a man is to be a man, he must have the knowledge of being a man, or in other words he must know who he is. The author assumed that it is important to have a strong sense of personal identity, and yet he concedes that in Oz it may not be as important as knowing who your friends are.
This is important in the film because, as in any fantasy, so much of the movie and the characters require the viewer to suspend their sense of reality. The question of where the Tin Man comes from, or the scarecrow, or the lion is not all that important. What is important in the film is that they display human qualities, whether or not they are considered to be human or alive. Equally of importance is the relationship the three of them have with each other and with Dorothy. I think this is symbolic of another important message of the movie. It does not necessarily matter where you came from or where you’ve been. What’s important is where you are going and who you are. One cannot change the past, only the future. It is true that one’s memory helps give them a sense of personal identity, but it is not required to be one’s only source of personal identity. This is similar to the idea of a hope for a better tomorrow.