Death, Society, and

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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Death, Society, and

Human Experience

9
th

Edition

Robert Kastenbaum


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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Chapter Fifteen:

Good Life, Good Death.

Trying to Make Sense of It All









This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:


Any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network;


Preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, or any images;


Any rental, lease, or lending of the program.




Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Views on a Good Death


A good life leads to a good death


A religious life leads to a good death


We should live each day as if it were our last


There is a continuous flow between life and death


People who can accept their lives are more likely
to have a good death


People who have a sense of having lived a full and
rewarding life will have a good death



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Three Paths to Death


The horrendous deaths of the victims of the attack on the
World Trade Center Towers


Sudden, unprovoked, violent


Socrates didn’t stop his execution


Miscarriage of justice


Discussed the meaning of life and death with his friends


A good death flowing from a good life


Victims of AIDS


Growing global population with AIDS; For example,
number estimated to increase from 4 million in India to 25
million by 2010


Rejected by society (socially dead)



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A Shift in the Meaning of

Life and Death?


Meanings that have been given to death


Death is an enfeebled form of life


Death is a continuation of life


Death is perpetual development


Death is waiting


Death is cycling and recycling


Example: Death
-
Themed Lullabies


Originated when life was very hard, and the desire to
live was challenged by the temptation to get it over with



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

A Shift in the Meaning of

Life and Death?


Traditional attitudes toward death were
forged when most people found that life was
hard, dangerous, and brief


Today


People are looking for and expecting longer,
healthier, happier lives


Fewer people think of death as terrifying or as a
release from a burdensome life


Many elderly are active and happy


Death is less salient in everyday life than it used
to be



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Horrendous Death (HD)


Characteristics


Caused by people, usually affect large populations


Often torturous and violent


Premature and preventable


Examples


War, terrorism, homicide, genocide, intentional racism


Environmental assault


Accidents, drug misuse, suicide, environmental
degradation, hunger, poverty, and indirect effects of
racism



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Death Education Focus:

Horrendous Death (HD)


Leviton’s Three Motivations for Developing the
Concept of HD


The reality of an increasing deadly, destructive
capability to kill large numbers of people


The Public Health Model with its emphasis on
prevention


Two themes common in thanatology


The denial of death and the vulnerability of
self and of beloved others


Anticipatory grieving



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

The Golden Rule Revisited


Traditional version of the Golden Rule: Do unto
others as you would have done to yourself



Kastenbaum’s Lesson: “The golden rule is
flagrantly disregarded and horrendous death
becomes a more imminent prospect when we do
not feel a basic bond with other people.”





Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

The Golden Rule Revisited


There is a tension between


The Ideal (I should treat others this way)


The Real (I see how most people are treated)



We cannot take the development of a human bond for
granted; it must be developed



We have a long history of dividing humanity into Us and
Them



It is easier to treat others as less than human if we don’t
actually know them



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

The Life
-
and
-
Death Challenges

of Virtual Reality


Every significant form of communication has an effect on
our symbolic relationship with life and death


Photographs of loved ones (they can watch over us)


Phone communication (voices can transcend distance)


Sound recordings (we can keep their voices alive)


Tape recordings (we can watch & hear them as if they
were still here)




Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

The Life
-
and
-
Death Challenges

of Virtual Reality


How will virtual reality affect our human bonds and
our tendency to avoid thinking about ‘real’ death?


Game playing rewards destruction and killing


Communication with people who may not be
truthful or may be totally virtual


Computer relationships are totally convenient


Computer relationships release us from many of
the demands of “real” relationships


May become even easier to cause destruction
without considering human suffering or death



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Utopia:

A Better Place?


Thomas Moore, 1516, published
Utopia


No money and no deprivation


No private property


No lawyers


No unemployment


No vice


No gambling


No persecution


What about death in Utopia?



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

“The Good Death”

Kastenbaum’s Propositions


We can agree that some forms of death are terrible even
if we cannot always agree on what constitutes a good
death.


People should be spared terrible deaths



The good death should enact the highest values held by
society.


Cultural expectations


Heroic death



The good death is one in which our most significant
personal relationships are affirmed.



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

“The Good Death”

Kastenbaum’s Propositions


The good death is one in which there is a transfiguring
personal experience. As death approaches one feels a
profound sense of beauty, love, or understanding. The
moment of death is also the peak experience of life.


A sense of adventure


A sense of mystical awareness


A sense of escaping from a disappointing life


A need to avoid the stressful realities of dying and separation


The good death is one in which people continue to be
themselves as long as possible, preferable to the very
end.



Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

Glossary: New Terms


Appropriate Death


Genocide


Horrendous Death


Quixotian