W5 Reflection: Life/Death

The culture of biomedicine explains health in terms of biology. Biomedicine also emphasizes the importance of learning body structure in order to treat diseases and maintain health.

A dichotomy is defined as a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities. There are several common dichotomies that we recognize today. A few are life and death, nature and culture, male and female, mind and body, treatment and enhancement, doctor and patient, and healthy and sick. These dichotomies seem natural and normal to many people, however they are actually culturally constructed.

The dichotomy that I chose to look into is life and death. I chose this one because it seemed the most distinct and obvious. Until I listened to the lecture presented this week, I would never think twice about the relationship between life and death. It seemed black and white to me – a person is either alive or dead. However, the lecture pointed out several gray areas in this association. What defines life and death? This is determined by seval factors including culture, politics, and legal systems.

One major conflict we see is pro life versus pro choice. Does life begin at conception? Does life begin when the fetus is six months old? Does life begin at the time of birth? While many people have opposing opinions about this topic, there is not a definitive answer at this time. The same gray areas apply to death. When is a person considered dead? Is it when their brain is inactive? Is it when their heart stops beating? Is it when they take their last breath Is it when they are relying on machines to keep them alive? The decisions to these questions is not biomedical alone – it is up to families, legislatures, and laws.

I think the dichotomy is accepted as natural and true in our culture because despite the variety of opinions, life and death are still complete opposite. You cannot have one with the other no matter how you look at it.

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