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pluckebaum "On Brain Death" Mar.6,2000


On behalf of the English speakers:

It appears to me that the crux of this issue lies in ones definition of death. I have not heard the issue addressed before but that does not mean that is has not been addressed. From what I understand, the major objection to the "brain death criterion" is one of cultural/religious preference; particularly burial rituals. I do not believe that I am either my brain or my memories. I believe I am either my soul or spirit depending how they are defined. Also, most of the info I was able to find suggest that most people don't believe that the inochi survives brain death and that the soul is released from the body (refer to both the catholic and Buddhist links).

I will list some different views here more for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the issue:

Here is a link to the description of death given at the International Network For the Definition of Death (

The Catholics define life as such: "Life is that perfection in a living being in virtue of which it is capable of self-movement or immanent action. (".

Here is a selection from a page called Buddhism and Medical Ethics:

"A number of issues in medical ethics turn upon the problem of defining death, but few writers have addressed the question of a Buddhist definition of death directly. Only van Loon (1978), Keown (1995), and Mettanando (1991) have argued for a specific definition: van Loon equates death with neocortical death whereas Keown and Mettanando support the "whole brain" criterion.

There has been considerable resistance to the adoption of the brain death standard in Japan, both from the public and within the medical profession, due in no small measure to its association with organ transplantation. The brain death criterion allows organs to be harvested with the minimum delay, thereby enhancing the prospects for a successful transplant. Japanese tradition, however, requires the performance of rituals over a lengthy period before an individual is regarded as having passed on, and is also reluctant to countenance plundering the bodily organs of future ancestors.
Some commentators suggest that public acceptance of brain death is growing as professional groups

and universities develop criteria, and as pressure from potential beneficiaries grows. Also, countries such as the Philippines have raised objections to Japanese patients going abroad for transplants rather than building an organ retrieval system of their own. The best analysis available (in English) of the Japanese situation is Hardacre (1994), but relevant material may also be found in Lock and Honde (1990), Feldman (1988), Becker (1990), and Nudeshima (1991). For discussions of the issue outside of Japan see Ratanakul (1988, 1990), Sugunasiri (1990), and Nakasone (1994).

A more positive attitude towards transplantation is revealed in Tsomo (1993). The author surveyed
teachers from many different traditions about their attitudes to donation. All were very positive, and emphasized that the corpse is merely an empty vessel, and that to give of oneself is a great thing, and an act of compassion. (".

This is a holistic link I found:

"Religious Holism: Resurrectionist Theism"

Interestingly, the modern fad of Holism is actually just the rehashing of a very old idea. Ancient cultures such as the Chinese, Babylonians, Hebrews, and Homeric Greeks, saw man as a compound
being, consisting of the two principles of body and soul (and sometimes even of a number of souls), neither of which is fully whole without the other. With physical death, the soul is no longer the alert conscious entity that it is in a living entity, rather it becomes a pathetic shade or ghost, doomed to reside in a gloomy Underworld, perhaps finally dissolving ("