When is a Person Dead?: the Answer of the European Philosophers and Poets

  • J. Rego-Pedro
Conference paper


Among other European authors, Aristotle postulated that the human being is a ternary compound of spirit, soul, and body. The soul makes the body sensitive and allows it to move. In the Parva Naturalia, Aristotle says that death corresponds to the moment when the vital warmth of the soul leaves the body. European culture connects death with the idea of loss of warmth and movement. The principle of life inhabits in the heart, but the heart is neither soul nor life, and, therefore, its beating is no longer an absolute criterion of life. In a culture which claims that the principle of life does not identify itself either with the brain or with the heart or any other organ, the idea of brain death is superfluous. What we nowadays call brain death corresponds to the essence of the traditional image of death: the loss of warmth, the loss of movement as a response. The principle of life is a supernatural one.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rego-Pedro
    • 1
  1. 1.Montemor-O-NovoPortugal

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