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Dying in the Twenty-First CenturyToward a New Ethical Framework for the Art of Dying Well$
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Lydia M.D. Dugdale

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029124

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029124.001.0001

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(p.19) 2 Finitude
Dying in the Twenty-First Century

Jeffrey P. Bishop

The MIT Press

Any attempt to reinvigorate an Ars moriendi in the twenty-first century requires the acknowledgment and acceptance of human finitude. In this chapter, Jeffrey Bishop demonstrates how finitude threatens both the dying and their doctors. He tells the story of a young patient named Elaine, whose misdiagnosis leads to her early death. Elaine’s story highlights that human beings as well as medical science know limits. Our finitude both brings into focus the things we value most and takes them from us. Finitude demands of us, Bishop argues, a kind of humility before the complexity that characterizes the human being, a humility that seems a prerequisite for the recovery of an Ars moriendi.

Keywords:   Finitude, Limits, Medical knowledge, Humility

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