Numer 5/2013

Temat numeru: Filozofia umierania i śmierci

Number 5/2013

Issue Topic: Philosophy of Death and Dying

List of abstracts

Inspirations to the development of thanatology as a separate field were cultural anthropology. A classic work, to which many researchers still refer is Robert Hertz Death and the Left Hand. Also the concept of rites de passage, van Gennep’s threefold structure of the ceremonies, is cited not only by anthropologists. The project of anthropothanatology was outlined by Thomas. French scientists have made the largest contribution to the early development of thanatology. They were first and foremost historians and philosophers. Now, though, French researchers such as Foucault, Baudrillard, Bataille and Kristeva are constantly present in the field, its leaders are English scholars. The main spheres of research in death studies are: funeral rituals, death in the context of the beliefs and religious practices, forms of mourning, memory and commemorate, death units in collective and public space, death in the media, dead bodies, bio-ethics. The author also follows the development of the Polish thanatology and characterizes the main concepts and methods.
The considerations are dealing with the issue of classical comprehension of the notion euthanasiain the ancient – Greek and Roman – times. Making use of source texts, all documented cases of the usage of the term euthanasia in the classical period are reconstructed and interpreted. The searching perspective of philosophical-axiolinguistic analysis was applied. The context of the undertaken considerations is the state of the present bioethical debate on the moral as well as legal status of an act/procedure called „euthanasia”. The axiosemantic  anarchism in the common understanding  of  the notion being considered seems to be a striking and destructive factor which is paralyzing any accurate discussion on the really existing dilemma of euthanasia within the heritage of Mediterranean  culture. The article is aimed at the clarification of the socially influential meanings of the term euthanasia, including the historical periodization of their changes and the suggestion of  return to the classical spectrum of  understanding of „good death” or „well-dying”, within which the best possible way of dying,  recognized as such in a given culture, is consciously chosen (or at least happily experienced by chance) by a dying beneficiary who is actualizing his/her human personal dignity this way at the same time.
In the article the author presents a philosophical interpretation of Thomas More The Utopia, in which More argues for the right to euthanasia. According to More euthanasia is a legal right for people, who cannot stand their suffering and whose illness is irrevocable according to the physicians. In such situations a State Committee agrees for the unpainful death. However, if the person refuses death, he/she must be treated as cheerful as before. This means, that according to More there is no contradiction between the right to euthanasia and the right to palliative medicine. Every ill person has the right to death or to treatment in their suffering; euthanasia against the will of the ill person is strictly forbidden in every case.
The first part introduces the topic of the living will viewed as a legal, ethical and social problem. It also treats of the connection between the community and the state as well as  bioethics and medicine. The next part discusses broadly the notions relevant to both understanding and explanation of the issues connected with the living will.

The issues are presented from the perspective of Polish as well as foreign authors. What is more, the distinction between the institution of living will and the group of documents called “advance directives” has also been made.

The following part concentrates on the presentation of problems connected with the legal bases of the living will present in the international legislation taking codification operating in the European Union into consideration. The following legal acts were chosen to the analysis: General Declaration of Human Rights in UN, the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights, Declaration of Patient Rights WHO, Convention about the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms, Convention about the Protection of Human and Human Creature’s Dignity applying to Biology and Medicine resolved by the European Council, Recommendations 779 and 1418 as well as Resolution 613 resolved by Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council and also by the European Union Card of Basic Rights.

The legal bases of the living will in Poland are presented in the next chapter. These bases result from the patient rights included, for instance, in: the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, the Act of Doctor’s Occupation and the Dentist’s Doctor, the Act of the Nurse and Midwife’s Occupations, the Act of Health Care Centers, Civil Code, and also the Code of Medical Ethics and Code of Processional Ethics of Polish Nurse and Midwife.

The thesis presents social foundations of implementation of the living will in Poland. It also contains a survey concerning the opinions about the living will gathered among varied age groups.

First, methodological research has been presented, its aims, problems and research hypotheses. The applied method is also discussed here. Furthermore, it contains analysis and the interpretation of the survey results concerning public opinion on the living will. On the basis of achieved information some conditions have been identified which, according to the surveyed, should be fulfilled in order that the living will could be force in Poland. It also shows the conditions that may have an influence on the attitudes of the society with reference to the document of living will in Poland.

Banal as it may sound, we will be pondering over death until the end of our lives. For the same amount of time, the responsibility for bringing new generations into the surrounding world will also rest on adults. Working with children cannot simply be a matter of improvisation and learning from experience. These may make up an element of professional development, but the basics of vocational experience – including the ability to hold a discussion and provide support in difficult situations – should be learnt by students as part of their vocational training. Here thanatopedagogy (death pedagogy) may help, as it has, among others, the task of helping teachers work with students when the latter are in mourning. Of course, in this situation there is no clear, ready recipe or point-by-point scenario to be followed. Dealing with loss, powerlessness, and suffering is a difficult art, especially since there seems to be no place in academic training for the cultivation of traits such as tolerance of frustration, awareness of one’s helplessness, unreciprocated relationships or the incompatibility of the role of teacher with other roles.

We require from our students conspectuses written according to general methodological principles. However, we forget to mention that the child with whom they will be working will not be an ideal student, a textbook example who always knows everything and how to do everything, who can construct, classify and put things into practice. Rather, this is a living child, who quite often doesn’t want to, doesn’t feel like it, cries, rebels, hurls insults, always has to go “pee-pee”, and outside in the sandbox throws sand in other children’s eyes… This is a child who feels, goes through experiences and very often asks “uncomfortable” questions which perhaps had not been foreseen in the conspectus, such as those about sex or death… And among this multitude of lists and classifications of qualifications it is often forgotten that a teacher – a full-grown person – must work with a small one not yet fully grown, and that his or her main goal is simply to teach the little one how to think… However, to achieve this one needs a readiness to provide wise, genuine and thoughtful answers to each and every question posed by a child.

tr. by Aniela Elizabeth Pramik