Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of Dying

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of Dying

Article excerpt

Jeffrey R Bishop. University of Notre Dame Press, 2011.

In this book, Jeff Bishop argues that modern medicine's epistemology (using the dead body as means to obtain curative information for living bodies) and metaphysics (rejecting formal and final causation for sole focus on material efficient causation) has created a complex set of practices that shapes the way medicine cares for dying patients and the way patients perceive their dying.

Bishop spins a pretty good yarn here, utilizing Foucault's genealogical (development through time) and archaeological (more detail at one point) approaches. He develops how power shifts into fields of medicine and the social sciences, and how they use disciplinary power to effect how death is perceived and controlled. This connects to physiological approaches, through issues of defining death, to organ transplantation and even totalizing palliative care. Bishop uses the term "biopsychosociospiritual medicine" to denote this totalizing nature, where the medical community seeks to be experts and to control all of these aspects. However, because of the limited metaphysics, this approach does not work. And because of medicine's need for the dead body for its epistemology, it becomes complicit (at the very least) in killing the body for the sake of other living bodies. …

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