Life/Death

Culture of Biomedicine is important to the Western culture because it gives this approach the utmost authority since it is based on facts. It is based on two claims that say it is a reflection of nature and is a representation of a universal truth. Also, biomedicine is neutral and autonomous from cultural context and human influence. However, anthropologists discovered that biomedicine is deeply rooted by culture, such as the political system, or the individual choices which are factors outside of the biological premise.

I have been exposed to the many aspects of the dicotomy of life/death through school and the media. This way of classifying only increased in complexity. For example, the topic of Prolife vs Prochoice when it comes to law making is a constant debate. According to Prolife campaigns, life starts at conception, or that a heart starts beating at 18 days, and serve the purpose of stopping abortion. And on the contrary, prochoice, we have protecting a woman’s right to choose; the decision of going through an abortion should be up to the mother. In his youtube video, David Withun presented the 10 most common reasons abortion should be legalized, and went in length why these arguments are red herrings. http://youtu.be/3NpoKuqf9hY. And then whether assisted killing, euthanasia, is legal when the patient is unable to carry out a productive life, or wishes to die. Or whether one is considered dead when they need a respirator to breathe, etc. Family is also the people to voice the live or dead decision when their loved one is unconscious.

This dicotomy emerges through cultural factors, again, the legal system has a strong influence on one’s live vs dead condition. This dicotomy is accepted as truth, logical, and natural because it is science and seemingly factual evidences support it. As do anthropologists investigate the cultural aspect of certain belief systems, scientists and lawmakers scrutinize all that relates to life/death to clearly present the details that pertain to such topic.

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  1. J. Brodie Timms-Fryer says:

    I think this fairly basic and completely necessary for a clinician to understand life and death. As the clinician is responsible for avoid death and enriching life, they are definitely aware of this dichotomy and should be at their core of their understanding. Taking this for granted my leave someone who cannot live an able life and continue on happy, if we consider life and death as spectrum where death is the end of many vital functions of the body. For example a clinician should find a way to try and make life better for someone with a debilitating disease by helping them alleviate major symptoms that would otherwise affect their lives in a negative way. On the other hand, and the most obvious, would be that the clinician should not be readily accepting of death and should try to combat it for the sake of the patient they are tending to. They should try to resuscitate, administer adrenaline, do what they medically can to stave off the nefarious effects of inching ever so closer to death.
    The only other way I can think of changing this dichotomy is to further expand it further the understanding of both sides. We can hold on to life and death but look for insight as to what really constitutes life and death. Life should be about living a meaningful and fruitful life, the goal would be to give the patient as much autonomy and reign on their life as possible, not just simply health, but choices that can affect their life as a whole. While death can be series of steps closer to the finality of complete bodily failure. Many patients could only live life at the grace of machines but we should not consider them had they not been able to have something keeping them alive. Any extension of life should be considered just that, and extension of life. And for those reasons, I think we should deepen our understanding of what it is to live and how close we can come to death before it being irreversible.

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