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April 27, 1912

THANATOLOGYA QUESTIONNAIRE AND A PLEA FOR A NEGLECTED STUDY

Author Affiliations

Professor of Surgery, Medical Department, University of Buffalo BUFFALO, N. Y.

JAMA. 1912;LVIII(17):1243-1246. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260040259001

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Abstract

Is it possible to watch the "vital spark of heavenly flame," as it quits "this mortal frame" and not be overcome by the mystery of death as the termination of that even greater mystery, life? Is there inspiration in the pagan emperor's address to his soul—those Latin verses which Pope has so beautifully translated?

To the speculative philosopher death may have a different significance, and one not altogether included in that given to it by the physiologist. To the former it is a subject for transcendental speculation; to the latter it is the terminal stage of that adjustment of internal and external relations which, for Spencer, constitutes life. For us its primary and immediate significance is purely mundane, yet it deserves such serious study from a practical viewpoint as it seldom receives.

What is death? When does it actually occur? How can it occur when the majority of cells in

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