Some social and political forces that have led us to think of death and dying as we do today.

Some social and political forces that have led us to think of death and dying as we do today.

Tony Walter (Centre for Death & Society, University of Bath, UK)

Where the death awareness movement, not least palliative care, has taken root, it is because the cultural ‘soil’ nourishes it. This short piece sketches some social, political, intellectual and ideological changes that since the late 1950s and 1960s have enabled this new approach to end of life care to develop in some western countries. More individualistic cultures, as in the UK and North America, that promote individual choice and autonomy, have found palliative care more conducive than those that prioritise the authority of family and medicine. To an extent, economic development also underpins palliative care, at least in the forms pioneered in the UK and North America.

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The philosophical roots of our thinking on death and dying

Value of Death: Philosophy

Robin Durie

Structure

  1. Section on the Ancients: Plato, Epicurus, Lucretius, Seneca, Cicero (theme: that from its outset, philosophy has only been able to think death as opposite/negation/absence of life)
  2. Section on “moderns”: Montaigne to Schopenhauer (Nietzsche?)
  3. Section on 20th Century applied ethics/analytic thematisation of problem of death
  4. How Heidegger makes death the central issue for Dasein
    1. Problematisation of Heidegger’s approach: Derrida – Aporias; Levinas – death & the other
    1. Nancy: death & the inoperative community (link to Durkheim quote) – & link to communities cluster
  5. Canguilhem – normality & norms in life & health (cf Lancet 2009); transposed into normality & norms in dying & death
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