On Raising the Dead
A biotech concern has received bioethics approval to try raising the dead. The plan is to use a stem cell therapy to restore neurological function in patients who have been declared braindead, but the company makes no secret that one of its underlying goals is to reanimate the brains of the dead. There is no evidence that this is anything more than fantasy, but it’s part of our long history of trying to cheat death.Also at JSTOR:
If reanimating the dead is going to be seriously discussed, then it is vital to have a working definition of death. This is harder than it sounds—medical technology can allow a fatally damaged body to carry on many functions. Roland Puccetti explains that the advent of organ transplants made defining death a priority: nobody wanted to accidentally harvest organs from the living. The general rules require complete lack of reflexes, zero response to stimuli, and most importantly, no brain activity....MORE
The real issue is not can a brain be reanimated (although it is likely that it can’t) but: should it? As Puccetti points out, what happens to a brain when it wakes up without a body? The body and its functions are what connect a brain to the world; without body, the now-aware brain is in complete isolation. Such a situation would probably be terrifying beyond imagining. On the other hand, without a body, there’s no risk of a zombie apocalypse.
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