Euthanasia, Views Throughout History

Euthanasia, Views Throughout History

It seems as though many Greek thinkers felt that euthanasia was a good thing… but in the same breath, they opposed suicide. There does seem to be one Greek physician who felt euthanasia and suicide were NOT acceptable. Interestingly enough, this is the same physician of whom many take his oath before becoming physicians themselves. Hippocrates states in his oath that “I will not prescribe a deadly drug to please someone, nor give advice that may cause his death.”

In the book “Utopia”, Thomas More defended euthanasia. He describes in “idealistic” terms … hospital workers watch after patients with tender care and do everything in their power to cure ills. There is an exception, (as there seems to be with every rule. LOL) in that when a patient has a torturous and incurable illness, the patient has the option to die, either through starvation or opium.

So, it appears with the varying opinions out there, we need to define a couple things. First the word “euthanasia” “the act of killing someone painlessly (especially someone suffering from an incurable disease) ( Secondly, let’s define the word “suicide” “The act of taking one's own life voluntary and intentionally; self-murder; specifically (Law), the felonious killing of one's self” ( Now the reason I felt I needed to define these two words is simply because they’re so interchangeably used in all the research I’ve done.

So, now I’m really confused, what really is the difference? To me, there actually isn’t a major difference; “euthanasia” is actually a form of “suicide”, brought on by oneself with or without the aide of others. With that viewpoint, which philosophers, if any, opposed or were in favor of euthanasia/suicide?

Plato opposed suicide because it “frustrates the decree of destiny” (Laws, Bk. 8, 873c). He felt that the Gods were our overseers, and that it was up to them to decide when we should leave this life. Aristotle also felt suicide was...

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