This article makes a very good point in one sentence: “there is no technical way to measure or evaluate conscious thought”. None! Zero! No way at all to “measure” whether someone is conscious! How can anyone possibly “get inside” someone else’s mind? Didn’t anyone take a freshman philosophy class? Show me “hard evidence” that YOU are conscious.
What part of this is so hard to understand? I am baffled every time I hear some so-called “expert” go on MSNBC to reassure the “scientifically ignorant” public that Terri cannot possibly be conscious. It’s like they think by repeating it over and over again they can make it true.
Hmmm … so, when an EEG is measuring activity in someone asleep, it is registering conscious thought, is it ?
David - you bring to mind something I “invented” back in my brattier days, when still in early secondary school, living at home, with a brother who is 4.5-years-older … we had separate rooms … and I rigged up a loudspeaker and some other stuff, and managed to do it so that it would only make noise when my brother came into my room, and not when either my parents or I did …
I called it a “bungler-detector” that would only react to someone in close proximity who wasn’t giving off any brainwaves …
I literally cannot know Terri Schiavo’s true state, but I have to wonder what would happen if either of her parent’s tried to feed her with something as simple as a spoon … can/would she swallow ? I get the proverbial shivers when I contemplate that it sounds like Michael Schiavo is not permitting even that little an effort to help keep Terri alive … and if Terri’s parents are willing to do such feediong, and it works, then *why* would that not be allowed …
If Terri cannot be fed in such a simple way, then the parents should be permitted to try, and, when they do not succeed, they can at least know that they were allowed to try that one last thing for their daughter …
..it sounds like Michael Schiavo is not permitting even that little an effort to help keep Terri alive
Alasdair, are you sure they have not tried to feed Terri at some point? From what I have been reading, it seems like they have tried everything under the sun over the past fifteen years, so I would think simple feeding has just not worked. Demonizing Michael Schiavo without having all the facts is something we ought not to do.
If all the parents want is closure, and to unssucesfully try to feed Terri onelast time and then allow her body to run the natural course of all dying things and allow for her soul to go to heaven, that would seem fair, but I doubt that is what the parents want right now.
Brian, You know that the fact that all epistemological inquiry must begin with “I” is probably the only thing that all of the moderns agreed on: Descartes, Kant, Berkeley, etc. So they of all people would certainly laugh off any attempt to “measure” someone else’s consciousness. This is what makes it so ironic that the people at the New York Times waste so much space blaming the religious fanatics in this country for “trashing the Enlightenment” (yes, they actually ran a headline with those words). But then Terri Schiavo rolls around and they tell us how “scientists” have measured a few voltage differences in her brain and proved that she is not conscious. What gives?
Maybe it’s just that they got their college degrees at a McDonalds drive through?
Err, no wait, here I have in my room a copy of the “Princeton Alumni Weekly”, and lo and behold, the featured alumna on the back page is a reporter for…guess who…the New York Times! Imagine that! Funny because the “National Research Council” says that Princeton has the number one philosophy department in the entire country. Hmmmm. I guess that girl slept through class.
My, Alfred, aren’t we the little academic elitist? You’re going to Princeton, so you must be right? I suppose my degree was from the #23 Philosophy program in the country, so it’s basically just trash. Maybe a step up from McDonalds — Fuddruckers or something — but still only in the neighborhood of Duke and UPenn, instead of the Ivy League. Goodness. I think you’ve pretty clearly taken the lead as the most obnoxious commenter here.
My point was that the prestigious liberal standard bearers of our society–most notably the Ivy League and the New York Times–are a pathetic joke. 90% of (non-science/engineering) Ivy League professors are charlatans. 90% of New York Times articles are mindless PC trash.
Bea - part of me is wondering, when they do the autopsy, *IF* they find that Terri’s brain *isn’t* liquefied, will the assorted people who sentenced her to death-by-starvation or death-by-dehydration will have any criminal responsibility for their actions ?
I do know one thing … if I was one of Michael’s kids or his girlfriend, I’d make for damty-sure that I had a Living Will in place, with copies held by people that I can *trust* …
Sure Alaadair, unless, like me, you think it is humane and dignified to just let your body die and your soul rest and go to heaven when you are in a state like TS, where you have no quality of life and you are alive by what you personally deem artificial and intrusive means that will not resture your well-being and health.
You are right, everyone should talk about this seriously and soon, because the one thing we know for sure is we are going to die one day. If nothing else good comes out of this case, at least many people will become aware of having to make these plans now, so that if you end up like TS or in a simialr situation, your loved ones do not have to deal with this very public death and with everyone in the country putting in their unnecessary two cents and judgment, on top of the sadness.
The people who sentenced her to death by starvation?
MS did not kill his wife, she ended up that way partly do to her bulimia as I understand. MS is legally required to decide what to do with her, and legally allowed to take out a feeding tube, an artifical means of keeping her body barely working while she is virtually dead. If your Catholic faith informs you that taking away the tube is murder, well, I can tell you my Catholic faith tells me it is a humane way of dying and letting my soul rest and go to heaven.
Why accuse MS–and those who agree with him– that letting your body die when it is time to go is not only acceptable but prefferable, of killing TS? And to accuse him without really even knowing what really happened–we were not there, she did not tell us what her wishes would be because it is not our business– is ridiculous.
Death by starvation would be what happens to the starving children in Africa. We take away respirators, we take away feeding tubes. We do not need to revisit the debate, because we will never agree.
But please, stop accusing people like me, who would rather just die in peace and not remain in TS’s state, and people like TS, who have had to make a very difficult decisions most of us will never make and never want to have to make, of killing.
Descartes did not quite prove that you can be conscious without your body. I was about to go into my take on the meditations and then I realized maybe this is not of particular interest to most of this blog’s readership :) Actually, nobody proves anything in Philosophy it seems to me, particularly in epistemology and metaphysics, we just speculate and in my case, get frustrated and overwhelmed.. I will leave it at that :)
The lack of proof is a big part of the reason I avoided Philosophy whenever possible. In my dorm at one point at ‘SC, there was a Philophy major. I told her that I tended to steer clear of philosophical arguments because so many of them devolve into a question of whether or not the table exists–and though she disagreed vehemently at first, it was amazing just how many times the phrase “Liz, the table exists” was uttered at dinner that year…
This is an archived post. Comments are closed.
To leave a comment on a newer post, please visit the homepage.