Life/Death

Anthropologists describe the “culture of biomedicine” in three main ways. First is the institutional history of biomedicine, which is how certain biological facts/ideas came to power and then how they evolved. Next is the language of biomedical facts, which is the process of how social values and ideologies have changed in natural/scientific facts. Lastly is the rituals of biomedicine, which examines the daily life of both doctors and patients in a clinical setting.  This culture of biomedicine is an important concept because it helps medical professionals gain a better understanding of an illness and how to treat and prevent it because we have been learning throughout this class biology alone isn’t the cause of an illness, there are many other factors to consider.

I think dichotomies can be useful in explaining someones point of view and I think they came around because of societies need to make comparisons or explanations in order to get their point across. For  example I think we’ve all heard someone say “it was a life or death situation” in reality the individual was no where near death but they use this dichotomy as a way to demonstrate how critical the situation was to them. We also use them to explain our view on important societal issues. For example life/death can be used to determine someones opinion on abortion. If and individual defines the start of life at conception then they will most likely be pro-life but if they believe life doesn’t start until the baby leaves the mothers womb then they would probably consider themselves pro-choice. This situation also works with death, for example, deciding if someone is considered dead or still alive if they are hooked up to life support. This is also why I think this dichotomy is accepted as logic/natural/true in western society. We use these dichotomy (and others) as “evidence” or “proof” of why we believe certain things or “take sides” on controversial issues. Many things in our society are not strictly black or white there’s a lot of in-between “grey areas” and we explain these through the use of dichotomies. They help us come to terms with situations, like death, and we use them to reenforce previous ideologies or beliefs we’ve constructed throughout our lifetimes.

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