The Technological Mediation of Brain Death Criteria
Jonne Hoek (University of Twente)
Paper short abstract:
Brain death cannot be adequately assessed without taking into account the role of technologies determining it epistemologically. This, in turn, invites us to also reconsider how an existential relation with death is shaped through technologies.
Paper long abstract:
The medical determination of death is inextricably wound up with technologies. Though the concept of, for instance, 'brain death' is broadly discussed in the philosophical literature (e.g., Bernat, 2002, 2010; Iltis & Cherry, 2010; Lock, 1996, 2002; Shewmon, 2010), the particular role that technologies play in constituting this category has rarely been assessed explicitly (exception: Rosenfeld, 2015). In this presentation, I will try and distinguish epistemological- from the existential difficulties that the technological mediation of death presents us with. (Maeterlinck, 2012) A post-phenomenological reflection on the supposed 'irreversibility' of death will reveal that 1) epistemologically speaking, it is impossible to understand what a category like 'brain death' means without appreciating also the technologies determining and treating it. 2) Existentially speaking, moreover, technologies actively provoke us to take a stance with regard to death's enigmatic character which science cannot comprehend. (Jaspers, 1962)
Science has always been technoscience