New test for consciousness in \’comatose\’ patients

New test for consciousness in \’comatose\’ patients.


It’s an old question, I hope: What if “fred” is declared dead in polity A where death occurs with heart stoppage, but is deemed alive in polity B, where death is all about the brain and more particularly about the ability to express thoughts or act on commands. And then comes this more focused examination, which looks to what was previously pretty much obscured by the meat of the matter.

All of which is to highlight the very ancient and now–to me, quite problematic–notion of death itself, the couple of life. We are not our thoughts alone, the pattern of sparks between and among synaptic neurones; our bodies, however defined, constitute us, too. And elements of that body are in constant creation/discreation. Death then is a continuing process, and I wonder if it really even ought to be called death at all.

I suppose the extension of this is not that by this equivocation, or perhaps biological evasion, I seek to pluck death’s thorns. Hardly: mourning, the anguish over the loss to death, sometimes enters with the slam of the closing door, sometimes silently, creeping, and you discover, in retrospect, that it’s been with you all along, the dimming reflection of your parent, your friend, your child.

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