Life/Death

The culture of biomedicine refers to the way society perceives biomedicine (i.e. that, in today’s society, it is believed that biomedicine can sometimes be taken into our own hands). As explained in the lecture this week, cultural studies of biomedicine are partially based on institutional history of biomedicine and rituals of biomedicine. The history and cultural practices of any population are crucial to understanding how that population perceives the concepts associated with biomedicine before we can label any one individual as alive or dead. This distinction is left up to the society of the individual in question. In our society, life and death are portrayed as polar opposites and people generally perceives living organisms as either one or the other. But, as was also mentioned in this week’s lectures, there are many gray areas within this particular dichotomy. I believe western society accepts this particular dichotomy of life versus death because it has been so characterized through our books and movies, etc. as only one or the other can be a label that many people accept this as logical and true.

I do not believe there is one solid example of a dichotomy that is so obviously black and white, but rather there are many dichotomies with gray areas in between. Throughout my childhood, it was simply easier to think that organisms were dead or alive, nothing in between. But as I grew into an adult and became more aware of the world around me, understanding more complex situations, I realized that nothing is ever just black or white. There is almost always an exception that falls within the gray area. I’ve read countless books and seen many movies about fictional characters that were injured in an accident and were so close to death that they could not survive without a respirator. Their brain was dead, so were they truly alive? Their body was not dead, but their mind was dead; neither truly alive nor truly dead, but stuck somewhere in between. These particular cases formed much of my own personal views about the dichotomy of life and death.

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