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A Buddhist Critique of the So-called “Dignity of Life” and “Death with Dignity” from the Perspective of Temporality

  • 불교학리뷰
  • Abbr : Critical Review for Buddhist Studies
  • 2021, (29), pp.9-30
  • DOI : 10.29213/crbs..29.202104.9
  • Publisher : Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Buddhist Studies
  • Received : January 14, 2021
  • Accepted : April 6, 2021
  • Published : April 30, 2021

Yao-ming TSAI 1

1National Taiwan University

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study, drawn from Buddhist scriptures known as the Āgama-sūtras, critically investigates “dignity of life” and “death with dignity” from the perspective of temporality. The analysis starts by defining and clarifying some key concepts such as dignity, life, and death. This is followed by a critical examination of the appropriateness of connecting dignity either with life or with death. A point that should be emphasized is that although the concept of dignity can play a significant role in the social and cultural categories experienced in a temporal context, it encounters enormous difficulties in the category of the process of life-and-death devoid of temporality. If the phrases “dignity of life” and “death with dignity” are taken for granted, then the fallacy of misplaced categories of terminological application can be committed, and therefore the correlated discourses of bioethics or thanatology may be deceptive or misleading. I argue that the process of life-and-death is, first and foremost, neither about dignity nor about indignity, but about entrapped suffering and the cessation of the entrapped suffering. The critical insight of this study may not only be able to open the mind of the students of philosophy to tackle difficult situations in life-and-death, but also serve as a guideline in the future studies related to philosophy of life-and-death.

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