Death: Philosophy, Therapy, Medicine

Faculty of Arts, 23 April 2010

(This event was generously sponsored by the Lee Hysan Foundation.)

A one-day international workshop was held in the Faculty of Arts at HKU, bringing together researchers in the humanities with practitioners of bereavement therapy, and clinicians in the fields of gerontology and pathology.

seminar posterDeath: Philosophy, Therapy, Medicine investigated the practical implications, for medical practitioners, of considering both Chinese and Western conceptions of death and dying, and Chinese and Western responses to this inevitable event. It also explored the philosophical and theoretical implications, for humanities researchers, of considering the realities of the clinical situations that contemporary medical practice produces. Therefore, it helped make an important contribution to enriching clinical practice with the insights of philosophy; and, conversely, enriched philosophical understandings of death through their confrontation with clinical and therapeutic realities.

Speakers included local researchers in both medicine and philosophy, as well as leading international scholars whose work argues for the necessity of combining philosophical and clinical knowledges in confronting fundamental questions about human existence. These two series of crossovers - medicine and philosophy, China and the West - drew upon the unique position of the University of Hong Kong as both a crossroads between multiple cultures, and as an emerging centre for inter-disciplinary research in medicine and the humanities.

Programme (Click here to download the programme in pdf format):

09:00 – 09:20


09:20 – 09:30

Opening Remarks

09:30 – 11:00

Session I: The Fear of Death and Dying: Medical and Philosophical Perspectives
Chair: Prof LC Chan (Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU)

Dr Max Deutsch (Department of Philosophy, HKU)
"Death and How What You Don't Know Can Hurt You" (abstract)

Prof Wendy Rogers (Department of Philosophy and Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University, NSW)
"Cold Enough to Cut? Challenges in the Diagnosis of Death for Organ Donation" (abstract)

Prof Dora Kwong (Department of Clinical Oncology, LKS Faculty of Medicine, HKU)
"Death - from a Medical, Legal Perspective" (abstract)

11:00 – 11:15


11:15 – 12:45

Session II: Death, Dying, and Bereavement: Cross-Cultural Considerations
Chair: Dr Amy Chow (Department of Social Work and Social Administration, HKU)

Dr Chris Fraser (Department of Philosophy, HKU) "Two Approaches to Death and Bereavement in Classical Chinese Thought" (abstract)

Prof Cecilia Chan (Department of Social Work and Social Administration; Centre on Behavioral Health, HKU)
"The Deadly Energy - Overcoming Death Denial and Anxieties in Chinese Societies" (abstract)

Dr Daniel Munday (Health Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, UK)
"Death, Culture and Change: a Medical Perspective from the UK" (abstract)

12:45 – 14:00


14:00 – 15:30

Session III: Philosophical and Therapeutic Perspectives on Death
Chair: Prof Gray Kochhar-Lindgren (University of Washington Bothell and HKU)

Dr Barbara Dalle Pezze (Department of Philosophy and Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU)
"Being-Toward-Death and the Authenticity of Human Being" (abstract)

Prof LeeAnn Bartolini (Department of Psychology, Dominican University of California)
"The Clinician Meets Death: Psychological Perspectives on Being with the Dying" (abstract)

Dr Philip Beh (Department of Pathology, LKS Faculty of Medicine, HKU)
""Hands Off – They’re Dead!!"  Challenges to Post-Mortem Examination in Death Investigations" (abstract)

15:30 – 15:45

Coffee Break

15:45 – 17:00

Concluding Discussion
Chair: Dr Timothy O'Leary (Department of Philosophy, HKU)

"Future Directions for Cross-Disciplinary and Cross-Cultural Research on Death and Dying"

For further enquiries, please contact Dr Barbara Dalle Pezze.