“Death by Design”

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Freelance writer and philosopher Daniel Callcut speculates for Aeon on the notion of bespoke, curated deaths:

The word ‘euthanasia’ comes from the Greek for a ‘good death’. However, this idea of a positively good death can easily be lost in contemporary debates over euthanasia where the emphasis is typically on the rights of a person in very dire health. I will touch on the familiar questions of medical ethics in what follows. But my larger goal is to liberate discussion of the right to die from the medical settings in which it is now most familiar. To do so allows us to think about euthanasia – a good death – in less bleak circumstances.

We don’t ever, strictly speaking, get to experience death, as death is the end of experience. As the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, death is not an event in life. But there’s no reason why death couldn’t be an event in the sense that a wedding is an event. You could decide the date and make extensive arrangements for the location and the nature of the ceremony. You could draw up a guest list. You might plan for friends to read farewells and lines of verse. You could give a speech of your own or, for the karaoke-inclined, sing ‘My Way’.

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