We’ve gotten good at thwarting death, which can be good, but Western medicine, with close collaboration from science, has invented the following strange idea and carried it out beautifully: Death is failure. We are committed to keeping people alive as long as possible, no matter what. Have you heard the story of a man who was recently resuscitated by EMTs despite the fact that he had “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on his chest?
Science and technology have forced us to think about what it means to be dead: When your brain stops? When your heart stops? When you can’t move or respond? And they have inspired us to create ways of measuring these vital signs and to invent ways of reviving them when they stop working.