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Those who believe in the finality of death i.e., that there is no after-life "“ they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, those who firmly believe in some form of existence after corporeal death "“ they condemn suicide and judge it to be a major sin. Yet, rationally, the situation should have been reversed : it should have been easier for someone who believed in continuity after death to terminate this phase of existence on the way to the next. Those who faced void, finality, non-existence, vanishing "“ should have been greatly deterred by it and should have refrained even from entertaining the idea. Either the latter do not really believe what they profess to believe "“ or something is wrong with rationality. One would tend to suspect the former. Suicide is very different from self sacrifice, avoidable martyrdom, engaging in life risking activities, refusal to prolong one's life through medical treatment, euthanasia, overdosing and self inflicted death that is the result of coercion. What is common to all these is the operational mode: a death caused by one's own actions. In all these behaviours, a foreknowledge of the risk of death is present coupled with its acceptance. But all else is so different that they cannot be regarded as belonging to the same class. Suicide is chiefly intended to terminate a life "“ the other acts are aimed at perpetuating, strengthening and defending values. Those who commit suicide do so because they firmly believe in the finiteness of life and in the finality of death. They prefer termination to continuation. Yet, all the others, the observers of this phenomenon, are horrified by this preference. They abhor it. This has to do with out understanding of the meaning of life. Ultimately, life has only meanings that we attribute and ascribe to it. Such a meaning can be external God's plan or internal meaning generated through arbitrary selection of a frame of reference. But, in any case, it must be actively selected, adopted and espoused. The difference is that, in the case of external meanings, we have no way to judge their validity and quality is God's plan for us a good one or not?. We just "take them on" because they are big, all encompassing and of a good "source". A hyper-goal generated by a superstructural plan tends to lend meaning to our transient goals and structures by endowing them with the gift of eternity. Something eternal is always judged more meaningful than something temporal. If a thing of less or no value acquires value by becoming part of a thing eternal "“ than the meaning and value reside with the quality of being eternal "“ not with the thing thus endowed. It is not a question of success. Plans temporal are as successfully implemented as designs eternal. Actually, there is no meaning to the question: is this eternal plan / process / design successful because success is a temporal thing, linked to endeavours that have clear beginnings and ends. This, therefore, is the first requirement: our life can become meaningful only by integrating into a thing, a process, a being eternal. In other words, continuity the temporal image of eternity, to paraphrase a great philosopher is of the essence. Terminating our life at will renders them meaningless. A natural termination of our life is naturally preordained. A natural death is part and parcel of the very eternal process, thing or being which lends meaning to life. To die naturally is to become part of an eternity, a cycle, which goes on forever of life, death and renewal. This cyclic view of life and the creation is inevitable within any thought system, which incorporates a notion of eternity. Because everything is possible given an eternal amount of time "“ so are resurrection and reincarnation, the afterlife, hell and other beliefs adhered to by the eternal lot. Sidgwick raised the second requirement and with certain modifications by other philosophers, it reads: to begin to appreciate values and meanings, a consciousness intelligence must exist. True, the value or meaning must reside in or pertain to a thing outside the consciousness / intelligence. But, even then, only conscious, intelligent people will be able to appreciate it. We can fuse the two views: the meaning of life is the consequence of their being part of some eternal goal, plan, process, thing, or being. Whether this holds true or does not "“ a consciousness is called for in order to appreciate life's meaning. Life is meaningless in the absence of consciousness or intelligence. Suicide flies in the face of both requirements: it is a clear and present demonstration of the transience of life the negation of the NATURAL eternal cycles or processes. It also eliminates the consciousness and intelligence that could have judged life to have been meaningful had it survived. Actually, this very consciousness / intelligence decides, in the case of suicide, that life has no meaning whatsoever. To a very large extent, the meaning of life is perceived to be a collective matter of conformity. Suicide is a statement, writ in blood, that the community is wrong, that life is meaningless and final otherwise, the suicide would not have been committed. This is where life ends and social judgement commences. Society cannot admit that it is against freedom of expression suicide is, after all, a statement. It never could. It always preferred to cast the suicides in the role of criminals and, therefore, bereft of any or many civil rights. According to still prevailing views, the suicide violates unwritten contracts with himself, with others society and, many might add, with God or with Nature with a capital N. Thomas Aquinas said that suicide was not only unnatural organisms strive to survive, not to self annihilate "“ but it also adversely affects the community and violates God's property rights. The latter argument is interesting: God is supposed to own the soul and it is a gift in Jewish writings, a deposit to the individual. A suicide, therefore, has to do with the abuse or misuse of God's possessions, temporarily lodged in a corporeal mansion. This implies that suicide affects the eternal, immutable soul. Aquinas refrains from elaborating exactly how a distinctly physical and material act alters the structure and / or the properties of something as ethereal as the soul. Hundreds of years later, Blackstone, the codifier of British Law, concurred. The state, according to this juridical mind, has a right to prevent and to punish for suicide and for attempted suicide. Suicide is self-murder, he wrote, and, therefore, a grave felony. In certain countries, this still is the case. In Israel, for instance, a soldier is considered to be "army property" and any attempted suicide is severely punished as being "attempt at corrupting army possessions". Indeed, this is paternalism at its worst, the kind that objectifies its subjects. People are treated as possessions in this malignant mutation of benevolence. Such paternalism acts against adults expressing fully informed consent. It is an explicit threat to autonomy, freedom and privacy. Rational, fully competent adults should be spared this form of state intervention. It served as a magnificent tool for the suppression of dissidence in places like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Mostly, it tends to breed "victimless crimes". Gamblers, homosexuals, communists, suicides "“ the list is long. All have been "protected from themselves" by Big Brothers in disguise. Wherever humans possess a right "“ there is a correlative obligation not to act in a way that will prevent the exercise of such right, whether actively preventing it, or passively reporting it. In many cases, not only is suicide consented to by a competent adult in full possession of his faculties "“ it also increases utility both for the individual involved and for society. The only exception is, of course, where minors or incompetent adults the mentally retarded, the mentally insane, etc. are involved. Then a paternalistic obligation seems to exist. I use the cautious term "seems" because life is such a basic and deep set phenomenon that even the incompetents can fully gauge its significance and make "informed" decisions, in my view. In any case, no one is better able to evaluate the quality of life and the ensuing justifications of a suicide of a mentally incompetent person "“ than that person himself. The paternalists claim that no competent adult will ever decide to commit suicide. No one in "his right mind" will elect this option. This contention is, of course, obliterated both by history and by psychology. But a derivative argument seems to be more forceful. Some people whose suicides were prevented felt very happy that they were. They felt elated to have the gift of life back. Isn't this sufficient a reason to intervene? Absolutely, not. All of us are engaged in making irreversible decisions. For some of these decisions, we are likely to pay very dearly. Is this a reason to stop us from making them? Should the state be allowed to prevent a couple from marrying because of genetic incompatibility? Should an overpopulated country institute forced abortions? Should smoking be banned for the higher risk groups? The answers seem to be clear and negative. There is a double moral standard when it comes to suicide. People are permitted to destroy their lives only in certain prescribed ways. And if the very notion of suicide is immoral, even criminal "“ why stop at individuals? Why not apply the same prohibition to political organizations such as the Yugoslav Federation or the USSR or East Germany or Czechoslovakia, to mention four recent examples? To groups of people? To institutions, corporations, funds, not for profit organizations, international organizations and so on? This fast deteriorates to the land of absurdities, long inhabited by the opponents of suicide.
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Those who believe in the finality of death i.e., that there is no after-life – they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, those who firmly believe in some form of existence after corporeal death – they condemn suicide and judge it to be a major sin. Yet, rationally, the situation should have been reversed : it should have been easier for someone who believed in continuity after death to terminate this phase of existence on the way to the next. Those who faced void, finality, non-existence, vanishing...
negative. There is a double moral standard when it comes to suicide. People are permitted to destroy their lives only in certain prescribed ways.

And if the very notion of suicide is immoral, even criminal – why stop at individuals? Why not apply the same prohibition to political organizations such as the Yugoslav Federation or the USSR or East Germany or Czechoslovakia, to mention four recent examples? To groups of people? To institutions, corporations, funds, not for profit organizations, international organizations and so on? This fast deteriorates to the land of absurdities, long inhabited by the opponents of suicide.

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When discussing 'knowledge' we must explore...When discussing 'knowledge' we must explore what we mean by 'knowledge'. Does everybody within society accept the same information as 'knowledge'? I will investigate further using the example of medical knowledge. Knowledge is not absolute. As knowledge and knowing is a human faculty, by the very nature of human beings and a society that has a choice in what and who to believe, it cannot be an objective set of 'truths'. The moment a 'fact' or theory is communicated it is in some way at the mercy of the medium which/who is communicating it and the recipient. We must also discuss not just 'what we know' but 'how we know'. Using the example of religious knowledge I will explore the ways that constitute knowledge gathering and acceptance of knowledge. I will be discussing what can cause changes to and further enhance 'knowledge' held. Medical knowledge is an area which appears to be constantly developing, new ideas are regularly offered to the public consciousness to be either accepted or disregarded and whichever judgement is chosen makes a statement about where society places its trust, how ready we are to accept change, how radical we will allow any changes to be and whose theories and evidence mass society is willing to accept. An example of this is Alternative Medicine, although it is more accepted now than in previous years e.g. aromatherapy massage is now actively promoted by mainstream health professionals as a complimentary therapy during pregnancy and treatment of bad backs it is still generally seen as a compliment to Orthodox Medicine and not valid as treatments in their own rights. The ways in which medical knowledge has developed and how these processes of development have knock-on effects throughout society e.g. the setting up of the Royal Society in 1662, emphasised the 'expert knowledge' bias over common sense knowledge. 'Expert knowledge' was historically endorsed and distributed by middle and upper class male establishments e.g. the Royal Society was founded by Charles II and allowed 'gentlemen' members only and women were only allowed to qualify in Medicine in 1876 however they were only actually granted access to quality medical training after the Second World War. This helped perpetuate an air of superiority, increased intelligence and authority to this group in society, their medical knowledge trusted and officially endorsed over traditionally female 'common sense' knowledge. Structures of medical knowledge enhancement e.g. the methods of investigation into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1970's by Dr Steinschneider as well as offering a medical theory, also makes certain assumptions about the non-medical world e.g. the family set-up, 'motherly love', which may cloud objectivity and lead to the wrong conclusions being drawn e.g. the case of Waneta Hoyt which was at the core of Dr Steinschneider's research. Waneta and Tim Hoyt lost five children one after the other, SIDS was looked to as the cause and Dr Steinschneider developed a new theory regarding the cause of SIDS, namely that prolonged apnoea was to blame. In 1976 however forensic pathologist Dr Linda Norton began researching the case without ruling out parental involvement. Dr Norton found evidence that multiple infanticide was actually at the heart of the case and as a result 23 years later Waneta Hoyt was jailed for murdering her five children. Medical authority extends an assumed authority throughout other spheres of society although it has no jurisdiction over these other areas or any official 'right' to comment on or assume given facts about non-medical situations e.g. family ties and a mother's natural instinct to protect her offspring an assumed 'fact' which obscured the truth in Dr Steinschneider's study of the Hoyt case. Yet the medical profession does make assumptions and comment on situations outside of its remit and because it is an authority it is believed in many cases and by many people. The knowledge endorsed by medical authorities e.g. The Royal Society are looked upon as more valid than for example knowledge passed down through generations of women, not because the common sense knowledge has necessarily been disproved or even tested but because authorities have been socially sanctioned and have traditionally been viewed as objective and trustworthy. Charles II established the Royal Society in 1662. At this time Monarchs were afforded a vast amount of power and trust, seen as next to God and therefore the Royal Society inherits some of this power and public trust. Thomas Kuhn has a Social Constructionist approach and bases his argument on the idea of paradigms. That rather than making and proving hypotheses, researchers spend the majority of their time trying to solve problems set by previous researchers. Kuhn says scientists are constantly developing paradigms and that previous theories or paradigms are often replaced by new ones. By this rationale each new 'discovery' is in some way simply the next step on from the previous step so there are no great revelations for the public to digest, no scientific theory will be a huge leap from knowledge they already accept. Even the great discovery of DNA has been a gradual if accelerated journey from the actual discovery that DNA existed to each subsequent related discovery of what DNA meant in terms of inherited diseases, treatments, human cloning etc"¦ Although these are monumental things they have come as a stream of knowledge. Perhaps new theories that would come 'out of the blue' and challenge a huge chunk of society's accepted knowledge would be too much for society to swallow in one go. Maybe that is why, although the general public does not have the 'expert knowledge' and specialist investigative skills to accurately assess the accuracy and validity of any scientific theory orthodox or alternative and relies on various media newspapers, education, official papers etc. to choose whether to accept or reject a theory, we are on mass, much more ready to accept a theory that follows on from what we already take as read. Alternative medicines such as Homeopathy despite being seemingly proved and disproved in contradictory investigations have never wholly been accepted and yet Steinschnieder's theories on SIDS, again despite being seemingly proved and disproved, was readily accepted and still is even after strong evidence that it is an erroneous theory. Kuhn also suggests that in an inverse way to the question at the basis of this essay, society and its institutions constrain the scientists working within it into a certain way of working and thinking and therefore society changes what is accepted as knowledge and not the other way around. Indeed what theories are tested and developed are often reliant on what scientific studies are funded, both with public or private money and as this is a selective process with certain scientific needs being prioritised e.g. nuclear weapons technology over investigating the merits of cannabis use for M.S. sufferers, we can see that to some degree Kuhn is correct. Religious knowledge is based on faith, a belief in truths revealed rather than information which has been deduced, tested and scrutinised logically and rationally unlike most officially recognised medical knowledge. Religious knowledge used to be assumed to be certain and factual. Natural science has taken its place as the factual knowledge, it is the belief system which is, on mass, thought of as authoritative and 'proven' and it is by this benchmark of proof that a large part of society judges what they will accept as true and religion fails as it is based on 'faith'. According to many sources including Newsweek in their 1999 claim that 'God is Dead' numbers of church attendees have fallen in recent years. It is unclear however which denominations this refers to. Attendance figures provide us with one way of viewing the scale of religious worship, however the respondents in the surveys used to compile numbers have simply said whether they attend 'church', they have not answered whether they believe in/study any religious text or 'God'. Perhaps the census figures might be a more reliable way of gauging the situation as in the last census respondents were asked to indicate religious belief rather than whether they regularly attended a place of worship. The force of belief across the globe is apparent by the religion inspired sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and some disputes in Northern England earlier in the year. There is no denying that the role of religion in UK society has changed over recent years. With the rise of scientific knowledge particularly explanations for the origins of the universe and in particular the Big Bang theory have given way to a sceptical view of religion that if there is proof that natural forces created the universe despite religious claims otherwise e.g. the book of Genesis in Christianity then perhaps all religious claims are false. Grace Davie suggests that while official worship has dwindled attendance figures in UK have steadily dropped year on year people have 'continued to believe without belonging to religious organizations'. While our need to understand where we came from has in part been taken care of with scientific knowledge, we often still have needs in terms of guidance or understanding what may be in store for us in a spiritual sense or where we come from philosophically and for these needs we often turn to religious or spiritual theories or teachings for answers. Perhaps with people particularly in the Western world having more access to the teachings of different religions Eastern religions such as Buddhism are often very popular through education, the Internet and the Media, we are able to create a 'pick n' mix' belief system borrowing different ideas from several religions. This would in some way explain the dwindling attendance figures, as if you believe parts several of several religions where do you base your worship? There is also less pressure within society to attend religious services, in many ways there is pressure amongst young people especially not to admit being religious and in this case private worship may be the answer. David Hay set up a Religious Experience Research Project at Nottingham University based on an earlier project set up in 1969 at Manchester College, Oxford by Alister Hardy. Using questionnaires and interviews he found that over a third of all adults in Britain claim to have had a religious experience. The number of church attendees is less than this which would support Grace Davie's ideas. Hay argues that people are 'embarrassed to disclose spiritual experiences in today's supposedly secular society', and that popular culture and its complex imagery help repress religious beliefs and desires. Perhaps people find it difficult to admit that despite having clear scientific theories to explain the origins of being they still need the comfort of believing in a higher being, a friendly ghost or perhaps a pre-ordained fate or that someone or something is looking after them and keeping the balance of right and wrong and good and evil in check. It is very common to hear of 'non-religious' people praying in times of crisis or when all else has failed and anything is worth trying. Which suggests that many people have not always completely ruled out the possibilities that religious knowledge has some truth in it but generally we feel confident and in control and only seek outside help when we are vulnerable and desperate. It is clear that there are no absolutes when it comes to knowledge and that the term itself can mean different things to different people. To some only knowledge which passes the test of modern day methods of investigation should be considered knowledge, to others simply what you believe is knowledge whatever scientific basis it does or doesn't have. It seems that in Modern Society we are often prepared to accept that science is the ultimate knowledge and that all other proposed theories be measured against this benchmark but we do not necessarily have the skills to find out if the scientific knowledge we trust is as factual or definite as we deem it. We often regard knowledge as only as reliable as its messenger, or not as the case may be, yet those messengers we are ready to trust are only trusted because of the tradition of trust that precedes them.   

When discussing 'knowledge' we must explore what we mean by 'knowledge'. Does everybody within society accept the same information as 'knowledge'? I will investigate further using the example of medical knowledge. Knowledge is not absolute. As knowledge and knowing is a human faculty, by the very nature of human beings...

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Being British used to be so...Being British used to be so easy. They were one of the most identified peoples on earth, recognized by their manners, their clothes and the fact that they owned one fifth of the planet . It is much more difficult now. Britain's pride, the British Empire has slowly diminished since 1945 as a result of two world wars and nationalistic movements in occupied territories such as India. Some even suggested that Great Britain lost its greatness and hence should only be referred to as Britain. Even the political invention known as Britain has come into question, after all it is a union of England, Scotland and Wales, or is it? Ireland was glad to gain its independence in 1922 and form the Republic of Ireland there is still the question of Northern Ireland. More recently, in 1999 devolution was handed over to Scotland and Wales handing power from Westminster to those regions in a process known as devolution. Arguably, as Britain becomes more divided the more it loses its sense of identify and culture. To complicate the matter, the process of European integration has a large section of the population worried about losing British sovereignty and ultimately being part of a much larger European super state . In this essay I aim to argue that Britain has lost and is currently losing its sense of identify. 'To be born English was to have won first prize in the lottery of life"¦God is British' Affirmed Cecil Rhodes. Those were the attitudes at the time when the British Empire was at its greatest, most notably in the late 19th and early 20th century. It is difficult not to blame them for being so patriotic. After all, just in 1900, half of the ships on the high seas were registered in Britain, she controlled about one third of the world's trade, one fifth of the total landmass that accounted for one quarter of the population of the world . The British Empire was thus the biggest empire the world had ever seen. The Empire gave the British the chance to feel blessed and the greater its success, the more blessed the British felt. British power and influence went beyond earthly dominion. 'We were all born in a world made in Britain,' was the way one academic put it. After all, just in the domain of sport they developed the current forms of football, rugby, tennis, boxing, golf and horseracing . More importantly, the British initiated the unstoppable process known as the industrial revolution that ultimately changed the world with inventions such as the railway, steam power and electricity . Perhaps the greatest gift the British could have given to the world was the English language. Three quarters of the world's mail is written in English, four fifths of all data stored in computers is English, and the language is spoken by 650 million or so people as a first or second language . Arguably, the greatness of Britain is all in the past. Britons often ask themselves, what makes them great today? The great Empire has long been replaced by the 51 states of the commonwealth . With it, Britain is no longer a great trading nation, a leading industrial power, nor a significant military power . The great Empire ensured that Britain remained the most prosperous country in the world. Between 1820 and 1870 Britain was the richest country in the world with an average of US$2400 per capita per year followed by the United States with US$1800 per year . Nowadays, Britain ranks 11th out of the 200 or so countries in the world, with US$23,590 per year, behind former colonies such as, the United States, Canada and Australia . In light of these facts, it is safe to say that with the loss of empire, there has been a loss of wealth and most importantly to a certain extent, a loss of identify. The idea of the British as a chosen or specifically favoured race has not survived the loss of the empire . In another words, God has seized to be British. Another way in which the British used to identify themselves was through religion. For hundreds of years, England Scotland has its own church has been a Protestant state 'ruled' by the Church of England. There are now more practicing Roman Catholics then Anglicans in the country, and half as many Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus as Protestants. Ironically, Protestants often looked down religions such as Judaism and Catholicism only around one hundred years ago . Speaking of Catholicism, Ireland, which is mostly Catholic, became part of Britain with the Act of Union in 1800 . Resistance from the Irish Catholic followed for a long time until in 1920 when Ireland finally gained its independence; forming a parliament for the 26 counties to the South of Ireland and another parliament to the 6 counties to the North of Ireland. Ireland would form a republic while Northern Ireland would remain under the crown complications of course followed this action . This was seen as the first step toward the division of the United Kingdom. It was a very drastic division because roughly two million people in Britain today have Irish roots, so in one way it was a loss of British identity. More recently devolution has occurred in Scotland and Wales. Devolution is defined as 'the dispersal of power from a superior to an inferior political authority .' With devolution, Scotland and Wales would receive more control over their own affairs, especially Scotland that formed its own parliament while Wales received its own Assembly with more limited power. Conservatives argue that devolution will lead to the eventual break-up of Britain and with it, its identity. Furthermore, the role of the queen as the one that unites all of the different nations in Britain into one single Great Britain will become outdated because with Scottish and Welsh sovereignty, there will be no more Britain to unite under the crown . On a larger scale, the question of British integration into the European Union is proving to be a difficult one. Many Britons, most notably Conservatives known as euroskeptics, believe that any association politically and economically with Europe will be costly. The cost will be cultural, political and economic. Culturally, many Britons believe that integration has resulted in a loss of identity. The British have always had a mistrust of the continent. The reason why can be easily illustrated by attempted invasions by the Spanish armada in the 16th century as well as constant warfare with the French for hundreds of years. Most famously, was the attempted invasion of Hitler's Germany during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 . Not to mention the thousands of British soldiers that died fighting for their country against European powers most notably during World War I and World War II. Naturally, there has always been an attitude of the continent being 'a place of nothing but trouble and that Britain's greatest security is behind the thousands of miles of irregular coastline around their island home. ' Politically, British integration into the European Union has meant that Britain has lost some of its sovereignty. Sovereignty is defined as, 'The ultimate legal authority in a state. ' In 1973 Britain joined the European Union and ultimately ever since Britain's political system has become increasingly interlinked with, and affected by, the institutions and policies associated with the European integration process. Conservatives argue that by losing Britain's sovereignty Britons are actually losing their ability of self-rule and therefore their identity. Identity is also linked with economics and the question of the common European currency, the Euro. Britain has always been proud of its currency, as it is one of the oldest and strongest currencies in the world. This issue is still pending as the Labour government predicts a referendum in 2005. One thing is for sure, if the referendum were today, most Britons would not want to see their pride and identify, the pound, 'scrapped,' as the Conservative Party puts it. All in all, Britain has slowly lost its identify through time. It once was the richest and most powerful country in the world. Now it is merely a central power. First the loss of empire, especially since 1945 has meant that the Britain do not have the empire to make them feel great anymore. Devolution to Scotland and Wales has meant the break-up of the political invention called Britain. Regarding European integration, many argue that it will lead to more of a loss of identify for Britain, especially if it loses its pride, the pound sterling. Regarding globalisation and the European Union, Britain has a terrible dilemma with no easy answer. By ignoring Europe, Britain would inevitably keep its culture and identify. On the other hand, if they do not, Britain might lose out on the benefits of being part of European integration.   

Being British used to be so easy. They were one of the most identified peoples on earth, recognized by their manners, their clothes and the fact that they owned one fifth of the planet . It is much more difficult now. Britain's pride, the British Empire has slowly diminished since...

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