Death and Dying Discussion


Question Description

Please answer THREE of the following questions. EACH answer should be in the form of a single paragraph (no less than 5 sentences, no more than one page). Be as complete as possible in your answers. No works cited page. Use in-text citations if you are paraphrasing or quoting an author, e.g., (Hampton et al., 9). Some of the online articles do not have page numbers. In such cases, the author's name is sufficient.

1) How does Ellen Badone's anthropological approach to death and dying differ from the historical and sociological approach of Aries and Walter?

2) Is transhumanism a "secular" movement? Why or why not?

3) How have some Black Americans used literature, art, and religion to resist and make meaning out of their experiences of racialized violence and death?

4) How has and does the Aboriginal experience of death and dying in Canada differ from that of non-Aboriginal Canadians? What does that tell us about the shortcomings of some descriptions of death and dying in the West?

5) How do the Aboriginal elders interviewed by Hampton et al. describe their approach to death and dying? How do their cultural and spiritual resources help them in their journey from life to death?

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The Reversal of Death: Changes in Attitudes Toward Death in Western Societies Author(s): Philippe Aries Source: American Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 5, Special Issue: Death in America (Dec., 1974), pp. 536-560 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 19-07-2018 15:46 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at The Johns Hopkins University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Quarterly This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to THE REVERSAL OF DEATH: CHANGES IN ATTITUDES TOWARD DEATH IN WESTERN SOCIETIES* PHILIPPE ARIES Translated by Valerie M. Stannard THIS STUDY COULD HAVE BEEN ENTITLED "THE CONTEMPORARY crisis of death," if Edgar Morin had not already given this title to one of the chapters in his book L'homme et la mort devant l'histoire. 1 Indeed, Morin's very words and ideas apply here: "Panic-stricken confrontation in an at- mosphere of anguish, neurosis, and nihilism," which takes "the form of a veritable crisis of individuality in the face of death" and probably also, as we shall see infine, a crisis of individuality itself. Edgar Morin intentionally limited himself to "death in books": "literature, poetry, philosophy, that is, . . . the non-specialized sector of civilization, or more correctly, the sector specialized in generalities." In this case the subject matter was evident: literature and philosophy have never been completely silent on the subject of death and dying, and have sometimes been known to be extremely loquacious; today we know how any discourse on the subject of death becomes confused and expresses one of the many forms of a pervasive anxiety. Since Edgar Morin's book was published in 1951, a new literature has appeared, the history and sociology of death, which is no longer general but specialized, and is no longer merely a discourse on death. To be sure, in those days there were a few pages by Emile Male and art historians on the iconography of death, there was the excellent book by Huizinga on the decline of the Middle Ages, and there was Roger Caillois' essay on American attitudes toward death, but there was as yet really no history or sociology of death.2 *Translation of Philippe Aries, "La mort invers6e. Le changement des attitudes devant l mort dans les soci6tes occidentales," Archives Europeennes de Sociologie, 8 (1967), 169-195. IL'homme et la mort . . . (Paris: Correa, 1951). 2Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954); Roger Caillois, Quatre essais de sociologie contemporaine (Paris: Perrin, 195 1). This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to The Reversal of Death 537 It is strange how the human sciences, so outspoken regarding family, work, politics, leisure, religion and sex, have been so reserved on the subject of death. Scholars have kept silent, acting like the men that they are and like the men that they study. Their silence is only a part of this great silence that has settled on the subject of death in the 20th century. Although literature has continued its discourse on death, with, for example, Sartre or Genet's "mort sale," ordinary men have become mute and behave as though death no longer existed. The chasm between the discussion of death in books, which is still prolific, and actual death, which is shameful and not to be talked about, is one of the strange but significant signs of our times. This silence is the main subject of this essay. As is usually the case with silence, it has gone unnoticed and therefore unknown; only during the past few years has it been the subject of discussion. A history of death was begun with Alberto Tenenti's two books, La vie et la mort a travers 'art du XVesiecle, which appeared in 1952, one year after Edgar Morin's essay, and II senso delta morte e l'amore delta vita net Rinascimento.3 A sociology of death was begun in 1955 with Geoffrey Gorer's comprehensive article, "The Pornography of Death."4 Next came the collection of interdisciplinary studies (anthropology, art, literature, medicine, philosophy, psychiatry, religion, etc.), edited by Herman Feifel under the title The Meaning of Death, which had been presented at a colloquium organized by the American Psychological Association in 1956. The mere idea of a colloquium on death testifies to the awakening interest in this hitherto forbidden topic. Indeed it seems that, with regard to the forbidden topic of death, today's sociologists are following the example of Freud concerning the forbidden topic of sex. Thus it is that the current taboo regarding death is being threatened in an indirect way by social scientists. Literature remains conservative and continues with the old themes, even when it takes the form of their opposites. On the other hand, sociology and psychology are supplying the first signs that contemporary man is rediscovering death. And far from suppressing these scholarly works, newspapers and popular weekly magazines have given them a great deal of attention. A literature of social criticism has followed, which first became popular with Jessica Mitford's book, The American Way of Death.5 Today hardly a month passes without the French, British or American press reporting on a book concerned with death, or some observed curiosity regarding it. Death is now becoming what 3La vie et la mort ... (Paris: Colin, 1952); II senso della morte ... (Turin: Einaudi, 1957). 'Reprinted as an appendix to his book, Death, Grief, and Mourning (New York: Doubleday, 1965). 5 The American Way of Death (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1963). This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to 538 American Quarterly it had ceased to be since the very end of the Romantic era, the subject of an inexhaustible supply of anecdotes a fact which would lead one to suspect that the newspaper-reading public is becoming interested in death, perhaps initially because of its seemingly forbidden and somewhat obscene nature. The new sociology of death, then, marks not only the beginning of a scientific bibliography on death, but very likely also a turning point in the history of attitudes toward death. Sociology, however, is not very conscious of history: Edgar Morin was led to treat the death of philosophers as his- tory, because his philosophic and literary documents were already a part of history-for a long time of the history of ideas, for only a few decades, of social history. On the other hand, common attitudes toward death, such as are being discovered today by sociologists, psychologists and doctors, seem so unprecedented, so bewildering, that as yet it has been impossible for observers to take them out of their modern context and put them into historical perspective. Nevertheless, that is what this article proposes to do, around three themes: the dispossession of the dying person, the denial of mourning, and the invention in the United States of a new funerary ritual. 1. The Dying Man is Deprived of His Death For thousands of years man was lord and master of his death, and the circumstances surrounding it. Today this has ceased to be so. It used to be understood and accepted that a man knew when he was dying, whether he became spontaneously aware of the fact or whether he had to be told. It seemed reasonable to our old storytellers that, as the plowman in La Fontaine says, man would feel his approaching death. In those days death was rarely sudden, even in the case of an accident or a war, and sudden death was much feared, not only because there was no time for repentance, but because it deprived a man of the experience of death. Thus death was almost always presaged, especially since even minor illnesses often turned out to be fatal. One would have had to be mad not to see the signs, and moralists and satirists made it their job to ridicule those foolish enough to deny the evidence. Roland "feels that death is taking all of him," Tristam "felt that his life was draining away, he realized that he was dying." Tolstoy's peasant replied to the goodwoman who asked him if he were all right: "Death is here"; for Tolstoy's peasants died like Tristam or like La Fontaine's plowman, having the same resigned, comfortable attitude toward it. This is not to say that the attitude toward death was the same throughout all this long period of time, but that it survived in some social strata from one generation to the next despite competition from other styles of death. When the person involved was not the first to become aware of his fate, others were expected to warn him. A papal document of the Middle Ages This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to The Reversal of Death 539 made this a task of the doctor, a task he for a long time carried out unflinch- ingly. We find him at Don Quixote's bedside: "He took his pulse, and was not happy with the results. He therefore told him that whatever he did, he should think of saving his soul, as his body was in grave danger." The artes moriendi of the 15th century also charged with this task the "spiritual" friend (as opposed to "carnal" friends), who went by the name so repugnant to our modern fastidiousness of nuncius mortis. As man progressed through time, the higher up the social and urban ladder he climbed, the less he himself was aware of his approaching death, and the more he had to be prepared for it; consequently, the more he had to depend on those around him. The doctor renounced the role that for so long had been his, probably in the 18th century. In the 19th century he spoke only when questioned, and then somewhat reticently. Friends no longer had to intervene, as in the time of Gerson or even Cervantes, because from the 17th century on, it was the family that took care of this a sign of development in family feeling. An example of this can be seen in the de La Fer- ronnays household in 1848. Mme. de La Ferronnays had fallen ill. The doctor announced that her condition was dangerous, and "one hour later, hopeless." Her daughter wrote: "When she came out of the bath . . . she suddenly said to me, while I was thinking of a good way to tell her what the doctor thought: 'but I can't see anything any more, I think I'm going to die.' She immediately recited an ejaculatory prayer. 'Oh, Jesus,' " the daughter then remarked, "'what a strange joy I felt from those calm words at such a terrible time."' She was relieved because she had been spared the distress of making a nevertheless indispensable disclosure. The relief is a modern characteristic, the necessity to disclose the truth is ancient. Not only was the dying man not to be deprived of his death, he also had to preside over it. As people were born in public, so did they die in public, and not only the king, as is well known from Saint-Simon's famous pages on the death of Louis XIV, but everyone. Countless engravings and paintings depict that scene for us. As soon as someone "was helplessly sick in bed," his room filled with people parents, children, friends, neighbors, fellow guild members. The windows and shutters were closed. Candles were lit. When passersby in the streets met a priest carrying the viaticum, custom and piety demanded that they follow him into the dying man's room, even if he was a stranger. The approach of death transformed the room of a dying man into a sort of public place. Pascal's remark, "man will die alone," which has lost much of its impact on us since today man almost always dies alone, can only be understood in this context. For what Pascal meant was that in spite of all the people crowded around his bed, the dying man was alone. The enlightened doctors of the end of the 18th century, who believed in the qualities of fresh air, complained a great deal about this bad habit of This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to 540 American Quarterly crowding into the rooms of sick people. They tried to have the windows opened, the candles snuffed, and the crowd of people turned out. We should not make the mistake of thinking that to be present at these last moments was a devout custom prescribed by the Church. The enlightened or reformed priests had tried, long before the doctors, to do away with this crowd so that they could better prepare the sick person for a virtuous end. As early as the artes moriendi of the 15th century it had been recommended that the dying man be left alone with God so that he should not be distracted from the care of his soul. And again, in the 19th century, it sometimes happened that very pious people, after yielding to the custom, asked the numerous onlookers to leave the room, all except the priest, so that nothing would disturb their private conversation with God. But these were rare examples of extreme devotion. Custom prescribed that death was to be marked by a ritual ceremony in which the priest would have his place, but only as one of many participants. The leading role went to the dying man himself. He presided over the affair with hardly a misstep, for he knew how to conduct himself, having previously witnessed so many similar scenes. He called to him one by one his relatives, his friends, his servants, "feven down to the lowliest," Saint-Simon said, describing the death of Mime. de Montespan. He said farewell to them, asked their pardon, gave them his blessing. Invested with sovereign authority by the approach of death, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, the dying person gave orders and advice, even when this dying person was a very young girl, almost a child. Today nothing remains either of the sense that everyone has or should have of his impending death, or of the public solemnity surrounding the moment of death. What used to be appreciated is now hidden; what used to be solemn is now avoided. It is understood that the primary duty of the family and the doctor is to conceal the seriousness of his condition from the person who is to die. The sick person must no longer ever know (except in very rare cases) that his end is near. The new custom dictates that he die in ignorance. This is not merely a habit that has innocently crept into the customs-it has become a moral requirement. Vladimir Jankelevitch confirmed this unequivocally during a recent colloquium of doctors on the subject: "Should we lie to the patient?" "The liar," he stated, "is the one who tells the truth.... I am against the truth, passionately against the truth.... For me, the most important law of all is the law of love and charity."6 Was this quality then lacking prior to the 20th century, since ethics made it obligatory to inform the patient? In such opposition we see the extent of this extraordinary reversal of feelings, and then of ideas. How did this come about? It would be 6Medecine de France, 177 (1966), 3-16, repr. in Jankeldvitch, La mort (Paris: Flammarion, 1966). This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to The Reversal of Death 541 too hasty to say that in a society of happiness and well-being there is no longer any room for suffering, sadness and death. To say this is to mistake the result for the cause. It is strange that this change is linked to the development in family feelings, and to the emotional centrality of the family in our world. In fact, the cause for the change must be sought in the relationship between a sick person and his family. The family has no longer been able to tolerate the blow it had to deal to a loved one, and the blow it also had to deal to itself, in bringing death closer and making it more certain, in forbidding all deception and illusion. How many times have we heard it said of a spouse or a parent: "At least I had the satisfaction of knowing that he never felt he was dying"? This "not feeling oneself dying" has in our everyday language replaced the "feeling one's impending death" of the 17th century. In point of fact, it must happen quite often-but the dead never tell-that the sick person knows quite well what is happening, and pretends not to know for the sake of those around him. For if the family has loathed to play nuncius mortis, a role which in the Middle Ages and at the beginning of modern times it was not asked to play, the main actor has also abdicated. Through fear of death? But death has always existed. Only it used to be laughed at "What haste you are in, 0 cruel goddess!" while society compelled the terrified dying man nevertheless to act out the great scene of farewells and departure. Some say this fear is innate, but its suppression is equally innate. The fear of death does not explain why the dying man turns his back on his own death. Again we must seek for the explanation in the history of the family. The man of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (as opposed to the man of the early Middle Ages, like Roland, who still lives in Tolstoy's peasants) insisted on participating in his own death, because he saw in his death the moment when his individuality received its ultimate form. He was master over his life only insofar as he was master over his death. His death was his, and his alone. However, beginning with the 17th century he no longer had sole sovereignty over his own life and, consequently, over his death. He shared his death with his family, whereas previously his family had been isolated from the serious decisions he, and he alone, had to make regarding his death. Last wills and testaments are a case in point. From the 14th century to the beginning of the 18th century, the will was one way for each person to express himself freely while at the same time it was a token of defiance-or lack of confidence-with regard to his family. Thus, when in the 18th century family affection triumphed over the traditional mistrust by the tes tator of his inheritors, the last will and testament lost its character of moral necessity and personal warm testimony. This was, on the contrary, replaced This content downloaded from on Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:46:25 UTC All use subject to 542 American Quarterly by such an absolute trust that there was no longer any need for written wills. The last spoken wishes became at long last sacred to the survivors, and they considered themselves to be committed from then on to respect these wishes to the letter. For his part, the dying man was satisfied that he could rest in peace on the word of his close ones. This trust that began in the 17th and 18th centuries and was developed in the 19th century, has in the 20th century turned into alienation. As soon as serious danger threatens one member of a family, the family immediately conspires to deprive him of information and thus his freedom. The patient then becomes a minor, like a child or a mental defective, to be taken into charge and separated from the rest of the world by his spouse or parents. They know better than he what he should do and know. He is deprived of his rights, specifically the formerly essential right of knowing about his death, of preparing for it, of organizing i ...
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Death and dying
1. Is trans-humanism a "secular" movement? Why or why not?
Trans-humanism is a worldwide philosophical movement, which believes in the
renovation of the human state by making and developing extensively accessible sophisticated
technologies to improve human physiology and intellect. In addition, trans-humanism is a secular
movement since Transhumanism is the knowledge human beings can transcend their present
mental and physical confines by use of technology and science. Moreover, they have established
various types of movements such as Terasem, the Christian Transhumanist Association, as well
as the Mormon Transhumanist Association. Transhuman also have a principle of humans to soon
attain intensified abilities, not by personal discipline, meditation, and deep prayer but simply by
consuming a pill. This will engineer peoples DNA, or else joining technology and medical
science to exceed normal physical limits.
2. How have some Black Americans used literature, art, and religion to resist and
make meaning out of their experiences of racialized violence and death?
The black people who were enslaved obtained ...

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Tutor went the extra mile to help me with this essay. Citations were a bit shaky but I appreciated how well he handled APA styles and how ok he was to change them even though I didnt specify. Got a B+ which is believable and acceptable.

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