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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:03 PM
Original message
The Ghost in the Machine
For millennial humanity has struggled with the question: is a person merely the some of his parts, or something more?

Christian philosophy has always held that the body is nothing but a shell. God intended that it be a vessel in which the soul resides. The soul is the important part: The soul is what is "saved". The soul is what is immortal. My hand, my heart, my lungs - even my brain - aren't me. They have the same intrinsic worth as the steering wheel of my car - parts of a machine. With the right technology, techniques & parts, all could be replaced. The "ghost in the machine" - the soul - IS ME.

At least, thats the way it was until Terri Schiavo came into the public conscienceless. Now, suddenly, supposed Christian fundamentalists have decided that Ms Schiavo's body is the most important thing she has - and have tossed out 2000 years of Christian thought in the process. For them, her body is more important than anything - and everything. More important than her soul, certainly more important than any dignity she may have left.


I come toward this issue from a very personal, if not unique, perspective. Some of you may remember that my mother died last October. She had contacted lung cancer, and had had her lung removed the previous November. Spent five months in ICU with a vent & feeding tube, most of the time either unconscious or drugged senseless. When she did finally regain her wits, the first thing she asked me to do to kill her.

She had spoken about her wishes with the family before the operation, and made very clear that she would not want to live if something went wrong. Her belief was that living as a vegetable is not living. And we were universally supportive of that decision.

Of course, I didn't kill her. Even though she could barely speak, didn't have the strength to move, and got fed through a tube in her stomach - her prognosis was good. We had a difficult time getting her to believe that. For a long time her biggest problem was depression.

Until the cancer returned at the end of August.

It was inoperable this time. And she was too weak for chemotherapy. All that could be done was to make her comfortable, and wait. In the end, she died at home in her bed surrounded by family. I believe it was the best we could have hoped for under the circumstances.


The are literally thousands of people in similar situations. Millions of people have dealt with a family member in various stages and gradations of artificial life support. As a nation, we know that it's a difficult decision but it's one that we are prepared for for the most part. And one which we absolutely do not want to be made for us.
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:08 PM
Response to Original message
1. Sounds like excerpts so, do you have a link to the original?
Thanks. It raises a legit point.
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baldguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:45 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Hey, I've got a couple college degrees.
I'm not incapable of stringing more than two coherent thoughts together.
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chlamor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-25-05 10:09 PM
Response to Original message
2. Have you read Koestler's book
of the same title. Classic.

He and B.F. Skinner had a vitriolic running feud.
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