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Source: (consider it) Thread: What is death ?
Doublethink.
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# 1984

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So this is a tangent to the discussions on the Charlie Gaard case elsewhere in purgatory.

There seems to be a confusion in our definitions of death. I thought it would be interesting to discuss how we could arrive at a useful definition of death that is independent of whatsoever technology we currently happen to have.

As I understand it, there are currently a couple of types of definitions of death:

Clinical death - circulation and desperation have ceased
Brain death - electrical activity has ceased in the cortex
Biological death - the matter of he body has started to revert to less complex compounds
Information death - the body/brain no longer retains the information that creates a unique consciousness

What do you think ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Jane R
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Doublethink.:
quote:
Clinical death - circulation and desperation have ceased
I assume you mean respiration, but that is a magnificent Freudian slip...

I'm interested in your 'information death' idea, but not sure where you'd draw the line between that and brain death. Also, it would be a really difficult line to draw. People do make astonishing recoveries even after catastrophic brain injuries. Sometimes their personalities change as a result, or they forget things they knew before the accident... when do you say 'this personality is dead'? And if the body has healed and the new personality is functional, is it still legally the same person?

Context: I've been re-watching Babylon 5 recently (very topical, with what's been going on in real life) and in that universe, the ultimate punishment under Earth law was having your personality destroyed and a new one created in its place. Like the death penalty, only they could still make your body work afterwards. That sounds like 'information death' to me. Also considerably more horrifying than just being killed...

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Doublethink.:
quote:
Clinical death - circulation and desperation have ceased
I assume you mean respiration, but that is a magnificent Freudian slip...


[Hot and Hormonal] [Big Grin] [Hot and Hormonal]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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mousethief

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I think before you can define death you have to define life. Then death is simply the state of having once had life, but no longer having it.

Defining life is notoriously difficult. It's difficult to come up with a definition that isn't too broad (for instance includes fire) or too narrow (for instance excludes deep-sea vent critters).

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Also considerably more horrifying than just being killed...

It sounds interestingly horrifying for the new person to me - knowing that you, as a self-aware entity, only exist because the previous occupier of your body got wiped.
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Nicolemr
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quote:
It sounds interestingly horrifying for the new person to me - knowing that you, as a self-aware entity, only exist because the previous occupier of your body got wiped.
It's even more horrifying than that, if I remember correctly the new personality is given false memories so they don't know they're a new personality. So theoretically anyone could be one and have no idea.

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Doublethink.:
quote:
Clinical death - circulation and desperation have ceased
I assume you mean respiration, but that is a magnificent Freudian slip...

I think you had it correct there.

I think there is real problem in defining death. I read that there is an "international mortality definitio group" or something like that, who meet every few years to examine what the medical definition of mortality should be, based on the latest medical insights and abilities. Which all means that it is a fluid and changing thing.

Brain death is currently, I believe, the definition of when a human being has turned into a corpse. This is important because the status of the physical items then changes.

But there is a case that a "person" has died when their personality has changed beyond recognition. It means that the relationship cannot ever be the same again, because one person has changed. I believe this can be the case in degenerative diseases.

But then there is the reality that everyone changes. That our cells renew, so we are not the same person we were 10 years ago. And our personality changes so we change in the way we interact with others. So, in one sense, we are constantly being renewed. Death is when this renewal stops.

Of course there is also the question of someone being utterly machine dependent, with no hope of recovery. Technically, they are not dead, but without intervention, they will be, and the only possible future is deterioration and death. So this is "death", but not really.

And, of course, this physical world is only in our imagination....

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
People do make astonishing recoveries even after catastrophic brain injuries.

Yes, but not all brain injuries are the same.
And I think this is where a lot of pain lies; in the conflation of different circumstances.

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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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There is a difference between being kept alive, and being dead.

If we are to have a tech independent definition, do we or do we not include 'resurrectable' in the right circumstances/if you're fast enough ?

Three people go into cardiac arrest at time a, one minute later at time b, two of those people start to receive cpr and it continues to time c when it stops the second person's heart does not continue to beat the third person is placed on life support as cpr is stopped. Three days later at time d that life support is switched off and the third persons heart ceases to beat.

When did they die ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I think before you can define death you have to define life. Then death is simply the state of having once had life, but no longer having it.

But what has to be alive to say that "a person" is alive. If I donate a kidney to someone, the kidney is alive in me, kept alive in the transplant process, and remains alive and (hopefully) serving its new owner. If I subsequently die, we don't say that I'm still alive because my kidney is sill happily functioning in its new owner.

Is there a difference between saying "X is alive" and "X's body is alive"?

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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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There is a sense in which I think there is a consensus personhood / self is believed to reside in the brain. The body is the support system to the brain - the heart beat matters because circulation supports the brain.

So maybe your heart stopping is irrelevant. If I could stick your brain in an android you'd still be alive ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I think before you can define death you have to define life. Then death is simply the state of having once had life, but no longer having it.

But what has to be alive to say that "a person" is alive. If I donate a kidney to someone, the kidney is alive in me, kept alive in the transplant process, and remains alive and (hopefully) serving its new owner. If I subsequently die, we don't say that I'm still alive because my kidney is sill happily functioning in its new owner.

Is there a difference between saying "X is alive" and "X's body is alive"?

There's definitely a difference between living human tissue attached and detached and personhood. Conversely if I cut my finger off, I do not die just because it rots.

(I know these thought experiments are quite bizarre, but I think we need a meaningful conceptual structure. - that we can then apply to tech/life/issues of detectability.)

[ 13. July 2017, 20:24: Message edited by: Doublethink. ]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:

So maybe your heart stopping is irrelevant. If I could stick your brain in an android you'd still be alive ?

Wasn't there a Russian (?) doctor claiming to be close to performing a brain transplant recently? Presumably in that case, we're talking about a person being declared dead, his body kept alive on life support, and the brain (head?) of another person being transplanted on to it.

I think everyone would agree that that person would be the person that owns the brain/head, and not the previous body owner.

And sure - if we transplant your brain into an android, or a jar, I think we'd still call you alive. You'd just be alive with a very large prosthesis.

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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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So, you're dead if your brain is dead - what is a dead brain ?

Is it only dead if it's warm and dead ?
Is it only dead if it can not operate core bodily functions ?
Is it only dead if it can not produce consciousness ?
Is it only dead if it's decomposing ?
Is it only dead if it's not resurrectionable ?

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Doublethink.
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# 1984

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Conversely, if I remove the brain from a body - but maintain circulation and respiration with a machine, what is that thing ? Because it does not look like a corpse.

I forgot sociology/cultural death in my typologies in the OP. I think this is relevant to the tragedies when people can not accept death has occurred.

We often hear of family's being "given the opportunity to say goodbye". My impression is there are people whose body is maintained by a machine when their brain is dead, but whose death is experienced by those they love - and documented on their death certificate - at the point at which circulation and respiration cease following the withdrawal of mechanical support.

Personally, I have seen a relative die. I was literally standing at her bedside as she died, together with other members of my family. It felt like it was unmistakable, she became inanimate. We did not try to revive her, she was 98 and had terminal cancer. But I know that sense of certainty is an illusion - but only intellectually, emotionally I *feel* certain.

Conversely, I once worked alongside a colleague who fell down a crevasse n the alps - she got stuck hanging from the straps of her rucksack. She froze. It took hours to free her. (Her account to me.). She was successfully revived in hospital. When she returned to work she had some nerve damage in her hands and changes in her personality consistent with minor frontal brain damage. (More inflexible, more tactless.). Her story was that she had died and been revived.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Jane R
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lilbuddha:
quote:
Yes, but not all brain injuries are the same.
And I think this is where a lot of pain lies; in the conflation of different circumstances.

That's true. And you can be brain-dead with all your (other) bodily functions merrily chugging along - with a little help from an intensive care team - and look as if you're just asleep. Perhaps that's why people find it so hard to agree to having life support turned off... we do have a tendency, as a species, to assume that if something/someone looks all right then they probably are.

Nicolemr:
quote:
It's even more horrifying than that, if I remember correctly the new personality is given false memories so they don't know they're a new personality. So theoretically anyone could be one and have no idea.
...until they happen to meet someone with a grudge against their previous personality.

[ 13. July 2017, 21:09: Message edited by: Jane R ]

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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Leorning Cniht--

quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
But what has to be alive to say that "a person" is alive. If I donate a kidney to someone, the kidney is alive in me, kept alive in the transplant process, and remains alive and (hopefully) serving its new owner. If I subsequently die, we don't say that I'm still alive because my kidney is still happily functioning in its new owner.

AIUI, sometimes the loved ones of the donor think of it that way--probably mostly as a way to process their grief and loss.

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Golden Key
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I grew up with "Reader's Digest" magazine. It frequently had (and has) real-life stories about life experiences, including health problems, death, transplants, etc.

A couple of relevant stories stuck with me. The second one is TMI.

1) tl;dr: When one young person died, their organs were donated. The eyes (?) were donated to another young person. As it turned out, they were somehow aware of each other, without a meeting or picture; and at least one of them drew accurate pictures of the other. (Read this in the '60s or '70s.)

2) TMI
..
..
..
During the Vietnam War, the body of a soldier was sent to a coroner for an autopsy. In the midst of the procedure, the coroner found that the soldier was still alive--barely, in "the Nth degree of cadaveric shock". The coroner did what he could, but chemicals and such had caused great damage. (I presume there was further medical care.) IIRC, the soldier lived, but was severely disabled.
..
..
..
/TMI

These were presented as true stories, with info about the people involved. RD wasn't a tabloid. I tried to find the articles on the site, but there doesn't seem to be an archive, per se.

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--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Nicolemr
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The second of those two stories seems reasonable enough, but the first one sounds dubious in the extreme.

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Nicolemr:
The second of those two stories seems reasonable enough, but the first one sounds dubious in the extreme.

Although it's the plot of a set of dystopian teen novels my eldest likes. (Unwind, by Neal Shusterman. It's just a bit dark.)

Without being to explicit, one plot element is exactly that body parts carry fragmented memories from their previous owners.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
I grew up with "Reader's Digest" magazine.

Good gods! An entire website constructed of links I council my parents not to click for fear of computer virus.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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lB--

Um, looks like it just links to its own articles.

I can't vouch for their tech security. But Reader's Digest has been around since at least the 1960s. It's not some honey-trap site. Wikipedia probably has a listing for it.

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mousethief

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RD has been around since 1922.

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Jamat
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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
So, you're dead if your brain is dead - what is a dead brain ?

Is it only dead if it's warm and dead ?
Is it only dead if it can not operate core bodily functions ?
Is it only dead if it can not produce consciousness ?
Is it only dead if it's decomposing ?
Is it only dead if it's not resurrectionable ?

If you are a Christian, death is defined as the body and the spirit having been separated. James 2:26.
I was present at a death once and saw a spirit leave. The person had had a brainstem stroke and had been unresponsive for over a week. It was kind of like a white mist rising. Immediately following that, the breathing stopped and the heart slowed and stopped. But the lights had been on with no one home for a considerable time before that and the person had been taken off life support about 24 hours previously.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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[Tangent. May I begin with one?]
Ignore me in this post if metaphysics and spirituality isn't desired in this thread, which seems badly slanted toward philosophical materialism. Which is, IMHO, one of the most significant and dire problems we face in education, religion, the arts, and the whole thing: materialist approaches to everything is killing the world and all life within. Crazily, business, which is imaginary materialism (really!) is the currently worshipped variety. How much does it fucking cost to keep little Charlie alive? As if this has any connection to the real foundational reason the physicians are in court against the parents. Against the parents. Really. We call shit like this a "gong show" in Canada.
[/Tangent]

What is death?
It is another state of being.
What is life?
My current state of being.

I have lost 2 best friends. One in 1987, one in 2008. Does my friendship cease because they are dead? It doesn't seem so. I seem to carry within me, little internalized bits of them, which speak to me when I do something they would have enjoyed sharing with me.

The believing among us might hold that it is their eternal life in the dimension or metaphysical location of heaven that I am connecting with them. Whatever it is, I find it annoying that, while in real life both were lily dippers (unenergetic canoe paddlers), they are even worse now they are only spiritually present. My friendships with both doesn't seem to have ceased because they had the temerity to die.

Death? Another state of existence. Nothing more. I meet her cousin ofttimes in nightly short sleep, and will embrace her in the long sleep in (hopefully) quite a large number of decades. Sadly there are a frightfully large number of brain dead among the living.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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[Tangent. May I begin with one?]
Ignore me in this post if metaphysics and spirituality isn't desired in this thread, which seems badly slanted toward philosophical materialism. Which is, IMHO, one of the most significant and dire problems we face in education, religion, the arts, and the whole thing: materialist approaches to everything is killing the world and all life within. Crazily, business, which is imaginary materialism (really!) is the currently worshipped variety. How much does it fucking cost to keep little Charlie alive? As if this has any connection to the real foundational reason the physicians are in court against the parents. Against the parents. Really. We call shit like this a "gong show" in Canada.
[/Tangent]

What is death?
It is another state of being.
What is life?
My current state of being.

I have lost 2 best friends. One in 1987, one in 2008. Does my friendship cease because they are dead? It doesn't seem so. I seem to carry within me, little internalized bits of them, which speak to me when I do something they would have enjoyed sharing with me.

The believing among us might hold that it is their eternal life in the dimension or metaphysical location of heaven that I am connecting with them. Whatever it is, I find it annoying that, while in real life both were lily dippers (unenergetic canoe paddlers), they are even worse now they are only spiritually present. My friendships with both doesn't seem to have ceased because they had the temerity to die.

Death? Another state of existence. Nothing more. I meet her cousin ofttimes in nightly short sleep, and will embrace her in the long sleep in (hopefully) quite a large number of decades. Sadly there are a frightfully large number of brain dead among the living.

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
lB--

Um, looks like it just links to its own articles.

...unless it has ads that my various software is blocking. In which case, I'm sorry.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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mark_in_manchester

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quote:
Wasn't there a Russian (?) doctor claiming to be close to performing a brain transplant recently? Presumably in that case, we're talking about a person being declared dead, his body kept alive on life support, and the brain (head?) of another person being transplanted on to it.
As often seems to happen, CS Lewis was wandering around these strange paths of the imagination before us.

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(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Jane R
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# 331

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Several SF writers got there before us. They're on to superintelligence and the split-brain problem now (amongst other things).
Posts: 3706 | From: Jorvik | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Demas
Ship's Deserter
# 24

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Death is the same as sin - something which separates us.

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They did not appear very religious; that is, they were not melancholy; and I therefore suspected they had not much piety - Life of Rev John Murray

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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What about cryogenics, where people are frozen after death in the hope of being revived one day, when medicine gets that far? Dead, undead, sleeping, wanting a blanket and hot drink?

Surfed into a news story, recently, about a religious group in India that froze their guru when he died. They believe that he's alive and in deep meditation. There was a court case, where someone (a possible relative) tried to get him out of the freezer and into proper Hindu death rituals. IIRC, the court sided with the guru's followers, but gave no opinion on whether he was dead or alive.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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To frame law and medical practice we need an agreed definition, and ideally it needs to be independent of our current technology and detectibility need not be in the core definition. It is possible to be dead and for this not have been detected.

Thinking through the thread so far, I be inclined to approach something like - we die when our brain dies, regardless of the state of our body.

In so far as it's possible to link a philosophical idea like the soul to the material world, I'd argue the soul is the vessel of the mind and as the brain dies, so does the mind and so the soul leaves the body. That is simply a guess, but for me fits with the idea of leaving the body behind.

If death is the death of the brain, what does that mean biologically/directly - rather than what we can detect ? So not, would you fail a brain stem death test, but why chose a brain stem death test - what are those indicators supposed to tell us ?

[ 15. July 2017, 15:33: Message edited by: Doublethink. ]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
What about cryogenics, where people are frozen after death in the hope of being revived one day, when medicine gets that far? Dead, undead, sleeping, wanting a blanket and hot drink?

This is isomorphic to the other science fiction trope - copying someone's brain patterns into a computer (..and making a clone of the person and uploading the brain state; having the person continue existing in a computer; being held in a transporter buffer for a few decades; ...)

I can't square any of those things with an individual soul that is the person: what happens to that soul when I fire up your brain patterns in a new set of hardware? It comes back? And then everything gets a bit quantum.

But a cryofrozen corpse is dead. A dead person who had his brain patterns copied on to a computer is dead.

If we are subsequently able to repair the corpse and fire the brain up, or copy the brain patterns to a new brain or something, then there is a person that isn't dead. Is it "the same" person? It thinks it is.

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Jane R
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# 331

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Golden Key:
quote:
What about cryogenics, where people are frozen after death in the hope of being revived one day, when medicine gets that far? Dead, undead, sleeping, wanting a blanket and hot drink?
I'll believe cryogenics is possible when someone invents a way of freezing strawberries without turning them to mush.

The human body is about 70% water. Freezing anything larger than a blastocyst poses enormous technical difficulties - and freezing blastocysts isn't a straightforward process.

I can't see it being a popular option if the frozen person remains conscious/aware while they're frozen, even if it does become technically possible. Imagine 200 years of nightmares and no way of waking up... and who could you trust to take care of your sleeping/frozen body for that length of time? (a familiar problem for Dracula, of course)

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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The other problem with cryogenics is that it would work only if you could reverse death. People are already dead when they are frozen. All their systems have shut down and begun to deteriorate. I don't think it would ever be possible to reverse that.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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Martin60
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# 368

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It's on the list of utter twaddle, like detecting alien signals, economic nuclear fusion, artificial sapience, killer nano, killing coryza. Any more?

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Love wins

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stonespring
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# 15530

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Golden Key:
What about cryogenics, where people are frozen after death in the hope of being revived one day, when medicine gets that far? Dead, undead, sleeping, wanting a blanket and hot drink?

This is isomorphic to the other science fiction trope - copying someone's brain patterns into a computer (..and making a clone of the person and uploading the brain state; having the person continue existing in a computer; being held in a transporter buffer for a few decades; ...)

I can't square any of those things with an individual soul that is the person: what happens to that soul when I fire up your brain patterns in a new set of hardware? It comes back? And then everything gets a bit quantum.

But a cryofrozen corpse is dead. A dead person who had his brain patterns copied on to a computer is dead.

If we are subsequently able to repair the corpse and fire the brain up, or copy the brain patterns to a new brain or something, then there is a person that isn't dead. Is it "the same" person? It thinks it is.

There's also the "Ghost in the Shell" (the anime, not the live action) situation: a person has their body and brain slowly replaced with artificial parts over time until there is only a fraction of biological tissue left in the brain, with there never being a lapse in "consciousness" other than perhaps the anesthesia needed to perform the necessary surgeries. Is the original person still alive? What if that last bit of the brain is finally replaced with an artificial component? This scenario may be scientifically impossible so maybe the question is irrelevant.
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mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
To frame law and medical practice we need an agreed definition, and ideally it needs to be independent of our current technology and detectibility need not be in the core definition. ....

would you fail a brain stem death test, but why chose a brain stem death test - what are those indicators supposed to tell us ?

We need an agreed definition but unfortunately we can't have one. We certainly can't have one independent of technology. The very need to have a definition is dependent on technology.

In the days before ventilators it was easy. Either your heart was beating and you were breathing or or weren't. Someone with profound brain damage such that they couldn't breathe anymore died. Now they don't.

The reason we go for brainstem death as an entity is that it is easier to define than losing cortex function.

Brainstem death can be defined as lacking basic reflexes (corneal reflexes, eye movement reflexes, cough reflexes) and no effort at breathing. And here is where technology interferes again - we need to be sure that drugs and metabolic disturbances aren't the explanation. For instance, it is possible that low blood sugar produces a state that could be confused with brainstem death.

The point in that definition is that a brainstem so damaged to produce that state is very unlikely to recover to allow the patient to breathe by themselves, and that you can't wake up and be conscious without a brainstem active.

The cortex is more complicated. All the cognitive work that leads to movement, talking, human interaction, planning - all the things that make us alive - goes on there. If you lose enough of it you can't do anything but sleep and breathe. (Courtesy of the brainstem). This is where people start talking about persistent vegetative states. However there is no clear line to draw between minor cognitive damage, major cognitive damage and persistent vegetative states.

So the definition is to do with pragmatism - taking into consideration what can be clearly tested for and defined, what the prognostic importance is of those markers, and what things are likely associated with them.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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I don't accept it used to be easy, I think the states that were ambiguous or in danger of being missed were different. Before stethoscopes, for example, it was hard to tell if the heart had ceased to beat - rather than beating very weakly.

So irreversible loss of consciousness and irreversible loss of the ability to breathe. Loss of breathing without loss of consciousness - breathing mechanically assisted is not death - because the person can engage with the world. Loss of consciousness without loss of breathing is not death because of the hope of recovery.

If we were more able to accurately predict if the brain could recover, we might then define some who breathe unaided - but are permenantly unconscious as dead ?

[ 16. July 2017, 07:12: Message edited by: Doublethink. ]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Rom Houben's¹ fate is what we fear, the modern version of being buried alive.

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¹ Daily Mail apologies for the source

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Good summary of the issues from the bbc¹

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
I don't accept it used to be easy, I think the states that were ambiguous or in danger of being missed were different. Before stethoscopes, for example, it was hard to tell if the heart had ceased to beat - rather than beating very weakly.

Yeah, but that state doesn't go on for very long in the absence of intensive care. If you can't feel a pulse whether or not there is a faint heart bit, there is unlikely to be a heart beat (faint or otherwise) in 10 minutes time.

quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
So irreversible loss of consciousness and irreversible loss of the ability to breathe.

Plus irreversible loss of certain brainstem reflexes. Although that's the pragmatic bit that is used to infer irreversibility of the loss of consciousness.

quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
Loss of breathing without loss of consciousness - breathing mechanically assisted is not death - because the person can engage with the world.

Correct. And wouldn't meet any of the other parts of the definition.

quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
Loss of consciousness without loss of breathing is not death because of the hope of recovery.

And becomes very hard to define. We can't define consciousness. We can define a bunch of brainstem reflexes, and breathing is one of them.

quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink.:
If we were more able to accurately predict if the brain could recover, we might then define some who breathe unaided - but are permenantly unconscious as dead ?

We couldn't say that their brainstem was dead because breathing unaided implies brainstem function.

One other horrifying thing to consider is the "locked-in syndrome" where the cortex is still working. I say horrifying not only because of the cruelty of an individual being conscious but unable to move or communicate, but also because it can look exactly like brain-stem death.

It's never good to rush a diagnosis of brainstem death.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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stonespring--

quote:
Originally posted by stonespring:
There's also the "Ghost in the Shell" (the anime, not the live action) situation: a person has their body and brain slowly replaced with artificial parts over time until there is only a fraction of biological tissue left in the brain, with there never being a lapse in "consciousness" other than perhaps the anesthesia needed to perform the necessary surgeries. Is the original person still alive? What if that last bit of the brain is finally replaced with an artificial component? This scenario may be scientifically impossible so maybe the question is irrelevant.

Strangely, this is the backstory of the Tin Man in the "Wizard Of Oz". He was a woodsman who kept having horrible accidents. A metal worker replaced each bit. Evidently, couldn't replace the heart. His brain may still have been intact, though.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

Posts: 17244 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
PaulTH*
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# 320

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Everyone knows what physical death is. Whichever stops first between the heart and the breathing will rapidly induce the other resulting in an oxygen starved brain and the shutting down, over several minutes, of its function. But is this a slip into the long night of oblivion or an awakening to a fuller life with God? I wouldn't claim to know the answer to this. I hope to attain to the resurrection, that 2 Samuel 14:14 is right where it says"We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished forever from his presence."

Many times in my life it has occurred to me that our minds cannot cope with loss and oblivion, and that may be the source of the human religious impulse. But then again, I feel God so deeply that I'm prepared to hope.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Everyone knows what physical death is. Whichever stops first between the heart and the breathing will rapidly induce the other resulting in an oxygen starved brain and the shutting down, over several minutes, of its function.

Except that the point of this thread is that given modern medicine, we're not so sure what we know any more.

Yes, we can all recognize when people who die in bed at home are dead. That's not a difficulty. The question is at what point people whose lives are being sustained artificially are dead - is it always true that people on artificial life support are alive, and die when it is removed? If the brain has largely lost function, but the body is being sustained by machines, is the person alive?

And, perhaps, at what point is it right for us to turn off those machines?

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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(TMI)
.
.
.
And there was a time when people put Rube-Goldberg-style signal gadgets in coffins, so they could sound an alarm if they found they'd been buried alive. I'm not sure if it was paranoia, or if it was sparked by actual incidents.
.
.
.
(/TMI)

That was before all our fancy machines--and we *still* can't always tell (or prove!) if someone's dead or alive. So people follow what they believe is fact, or faith, and try to do their best to figure out a very confusing situation. And when the patient is a child, or in a liminal state (maybe Terri Schiavo or someone with locked-in syndrome), it's especially harrowing.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

Posts: 17244 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged


 
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