The phrase “culture of medicine” is difficult to strictly define, since it is made up of many different things. The main idea behind the “culture of medicine,” however, is that biomedical practices vary across cultures, and these differences can be studied by learning about the history, language, and rituals behind those practices. This, according to lecture 5.1 will help anthropologists learn how biomedical facts and models have changed over time, social values that have become natural or scientific, and has also helped to reveal different customs of both patients and professionals living in different societies. This means that the culture of biomedicine has to be both universal and objective, or in other words, it has to reflect nature and fact. Finally, we must also consider something we have been reminded of over and over throughout this course- health is not only influenced by biology, but also through culture, politics, environment, and individual choice.
The dichotomy I chose to evaluate was that of life and death. According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary and the lecture, life can be defined in many ways. These including “the quality that distinguishes a vital and function being from a dead body,” “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction,” or “a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings (Mariamm- Webster).” I believe that life is a combination of many different “definitions” and that there is no clear one that stands out. Taking a look at the definitions of death from the Marriam- Webster dictionary, there are also many perpectives. Some of these include “a permanent cessation of all vital functions,” or “the cause or occasion of loss of life.” After comparing these words, life and death, it is difficult to say whether death is when the brain dies, the body dies, or when the person takes their last breath; like the lecture asks. If I had to define human death, I would have to say a person is dead when they stop breathing, all the cells in the body are dead, and the body/brain is no longer functioning.
I believe that this dichotomy is accepted as both logical and natural. Although death can be difficult to face, it is a natural bodily process that must occur. I am sure throughout many different cultures, there are many different cultural and spiritual debates on what death really is, but logic takes over and people know when someone has died. Life, also highly debated, is an amazing thing that is very difficult to place a definition on. Life and death have been debated for a long time, and I do not see that debate ending anytime soon.