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A Momentary Flow

Evolving Worldviews

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7 posts tagged death

I’d rather be dissected
There are never enough whole-body donations to science. Why don’t more people want their death to help the living?
…My body, I learned, could help improve safety belts in a car or seats in a train. My brain might help designers make helmets that mitigate the traumatic brain injuries an American football player sustains in a rough tackle, or a soldier gets from the shockwave of a bomb blast. When the research is done, if my family wishes, they can have my cremated remains (in which case, I wouldn’t mind if my ashes are spread somewhere I once loved). If not, I might be honoured alongside other unclaimed donors by a plaque, a tree, or a solemn annual ceremony. (via Why would I donate my body to science? – Brooke Borel – Aeon)

I’d rather be dissected

There are never enough whole-body donations to science. Why don’t more people want their death to help the living?

…My body, I learned, could help improve safety belts in a car or seats in a train. My brain might help designers make helmets that mitigate the traumatic brain injuries an American football player sustains in a rough tackle, or a soldier gets from the shockwave of a bomb blast. When the research is done, if my family wishes, they can have my cremated remains (in which case, I wouldn’t mind if my ashes are spread somewhere I once loved). If not, I might be honoured alongside other unclaimed donors by a plaque, a tree, or a solemn annual ceremony. (via Why would I donate my body to science? – Brooke Borel – Aeon)

read of the day: Death has become too sanitised. It needs raucous laughter and a little bit of living to make it real again
Several days after leaving Winchester and walking the South Downs Way through southern England, filming ourselves and the landscape, and endlessly talking, we reached the perilous cliffs of Beachy Head. From these vertically pitched, chalk-white heights, desperate souls have flung themselves to a brutal end, and countless ships have been wrecked at their rocky base. I’d imagined May sunshine, and us all sitting in a circle on the grassy cliff top. But as we approached our journey’s close, rain thrashed down, gales blew, and I could no longer see the cliff edge for fog rising from the sea. In the distance, I could just make out the outlines of crosses — memorials to past suicides. Then I spotted a table and, as I got closer, blue and yellow balloons tied by strings to its legs, dancing, hysterical, in the wind. Cake stands held green-iced sponges — one, topped with plastic lambs, another with the Way’s Long Man of Wilmington drawn on it in white icing. A Union Flag stirred in the air, its pole poking up from a sponge topped with green hills and a cowshed.
I had joined ‘A 100-Mile Conversation’ halfway through. A film project by the London artists Nathan Burr and Louis Buckley, it had progressed, in real time, from Winchester, across the M3 motorway, down through the Chilcomb Valley, then east along the coast. The purpose? To discuss suicide. Bringing the cake had been my idea. How apt, I’d thought, how crazy even, to celebrate the project’s end by drinking tea on a cliff edge; how right, somehow, to celebrate life with an abundance of cake at a beauty spot marred by the sadness of suicide jumpers.
One month later, and I’m tangled up with cake and death again. I’m at a Death Café, drinking loose-leaf Assam at London’s Royal College of Art with eight strangers. We finger mugs and wipe cake crumbs from our lips. I’ve set the others an exercise. A petite woman beside me reads from a sheet of paper on the tablecloth: ‘The first words that came to mind when I thought of the word death,’ she smiles, ‘were fucking bloody shit.’ ‘Death Cafés’ were a frequent topic of conversation on the 100-mile walk: the two had much in common in wanting to probe people’s personal connection to death. I’d attended several, intrigued by the dynamics that might unfold there, but also drawn there by personal loss. Now I was hosting my own.
go read..
(via Death has become too sanitised – Clare Davies – Aeon)

read of the day: Death has become too sanitised. It needs raucous laughter and a little bit of living to make it real again

Several days after leaving Winchester and walking the South Downs Way through southern England, filming ourselves and the landscape, and endlessly talking, we reached the perilous cliffs of Beachy Head. From these vertically pitched, chalk-white heights, desperate souls have flung themselves to a brutal end, and countless ships have been wrecked at their rocky base. I’d imagined May sunshine, and us all sitting in a circle on the grassy cliff top. But as we approached our journey’s close, rain thrashed down, gales blew, and I could no longer see the cliff edge for fog rising from the sea. In the distance, I could just make out the outlines of crosses — memorials to past suicides. Then I spotted a table and, as I got closer, blue and yellow balloons tied by strings to its legs, dancing, hysterical, in the wind. Cake stands held green-iced sponges — one, topped with plastic lambs, another with the Way’s Long Man of Wilmington drawn on it in white icing. A Union Flag stirred in the air, its pole poking up from a sponge topped with green hills and a cowshed.

I had joined ‘A 100-Mile Conversation’ halfway through. A film project by the London artists Nathan Burr and Louis Buckley, it had progressed, in real time, from Winchester, across the M3 motorway, down through the Chilcomb Valley, then east along the coast. The purpose? To discuss suicide. Bringing the cake had been my idea. How apt, I’d thought, how crazy even, to celebrate the project’s end by drinking tea on a cliff edge; how right, somehow, to celebrate life with an abundance of cake at a beauty spot marred by the sadness of suicide jumpers.

One month later, and I’m tangled up with cake and death again. I’m at a Death Café, drinking loose-leaf Assam at London’s Royal College of Art with eight strangers. We finger mugs and wipe cake crumbs from our lips. I’ve set the others an exercise. A petite woman beside me reads from a sheet of paper on the tablecloth: ‘The first words that came to mind when I thought of the word death,’ she smiles, ‘were fucking bloody shit.’ ‘Death Cafés’ were a frequent topic of conversation on the 100-mile walk: the two had much in common in wanting to probe people’s personal connection to death. I’d attended several, intrigued by the dynamics that might unfold there, but also drawn there by personal loss. Now I was hosting my own.

go read..

(via Death has become too sanitised – Clare Davies – Aeon)

However we grieve, after the tomb is sealed, the ashes scattered, or the coffin buried, all we can do is get on with trying to make sure we write the best chapters of our own lives that we can, while contributing some good lines and passages to those of others. We can’t guarantee that the great editor of fate won’t ruin it by inserting an ugly ending. But we can give the bastard as little help as possible.

Would philosophy help when my father died? – Julian Baggini – Aeon
We all believe that death is bad. But why is death bad? In thinking about this question, I am simply going to assume that the death of my body is the end of my existence as a person. (If you don’t believe me, read the first nine chapters of my book.) But if death is my end, how can it be bad for me to die? After all, once I’m dead, I don’t exist. If I don’t exist, how can being dead be bad for me? People sometimes respond that death isn’t bad for the person who is dead. Death is bad for the survivors. But I don’t think that can be central to what’s bad about death. Compare two stories. Story 1. Your friend is about to go on the spaceship that is leaving for 100 Earth years to explore a distant solar system. By the time the spaceship comes back, you will be long dead. Worse still, 20 minutes after the ship takes off, all radio contact between the Earth and the ship will be lost until its return. You’re losing all contact with your closest friend. Story 2. The spaceship takes off, and then 25 minutes into the flight, it explodes and everybody on board is killed instantly. Story 2 is worse. But why? It can’t be the separation, because we had that in Story 1. What’s worse is that your friend has died. Admittedly, that is worse for you, too, since you care about your friend. But that upsets you because it is bad for her to have died. But how can it be true that death is bad for the person who dies? (via Is Death Bad for You? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education)

We all believe that death is bad. But why is death bad? In thinking about this question, I am simply going to assume that the death of my body is the end of my existence as a person. (If you don’t believe me, read the first nine chapters of my book.) But if death is my end, how can it be bad for me to die? After all, once I’m dead, I don’t exist. If I don’t exist, how can being dead be bad for me? People sometimes respond that death isn’t bad for the person who is dead. Death is bad for the survivors. But I don’t think that can be central to what’s bad about death. Compare two stories. Story 1. Your friend is about to go on the spaceship that is leaving for 100 Earth years to explore a distant solar system. By the time the spaceship comes back, you will be long dead. Worse still, 20 minutes after the ship takes off, all radio contact between the Earth and the ship will be lost until its return. You’re losing all contact with your closest friend. Story 2. The spaceship takes off, and then 25 minutes into the flight, it explodes and everybody on board is killed instantly. Story 2 is worse. But why? It can’t be the separation, because we had that in Story 1. What’s worse is that your friend has died. Admittedly, that is worse for you, too, since you care about your friend. But that upsets you because it is bad for her to have died. But how can it be true that death is bad for the person who dies? (via Is Death Bad for You? - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education)

How should doctors, patients and families make end of life decisions? In this episode, originally recorded as part of Bioethics Bites, Peter Singer addresses this question from a utilitarian perspective, stressing the importance individual autonomy. Bioethics Bites is made in association with the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and made possible by a grant from the Wellcome Trust. Listen to Peter Singer on Life and Death Decision-Making Previous interviews with Peter Singer: Listen to Peter Singer on Henry Sidgwick’s Ethics Listen to Peter Singer on the Life You Can Save Listen to Peter Singer on Using Animals (originally on Ethics Bites) Another Philosophy Bites episode on ending lives: Listen to Raymond Tallis on Assisted Dying

philosophy bites: Peter Singer on Life and Death Decision-Making