What do you think Socrates would say Ivan did incorrectly with regard to living?
Part I – 20 points
In Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” Ivan Ilyich faces death. Ivan’s death is not sudden, but instead he experiences the process of dying. We are also given details about Ivan’s life before dying and his priorities while living.
In Plato’s “Apology” and “Crito”, Socrates also faces death. Socrates gives arguments to defend his reflections on living well and is seemingly unafraid of death. In contrast, we see Ivan Ilyich full of anger and pity for himself as he faces death.
We can return to the question of what it means to live and how one should live by thinking about the the priorities of Ivan Ilyich as compared to those of Socrates: Socrates lived an authentic life and Ivan Ilyich seemingly lived an inauthentic life. But what do I mean by that?
In paragraph 1, give a description of how Ivan Illyich lived his life and what his priorities were.
In paragraph 2, compare and contrast how Ivan Ilyich and Socrates faced death. Ivan did not accept his death with the same ease as Socrates. Be sure to explain by answering the following questions: (1) Why do you think this is the case (that Socrates handled impending death better than Ivan)? (2) What do you think Socrates would say Ivan did incorrectly with regard to living?
(While you do not need to give a full explanation of Socrates’ story, it will help to think about Socrates criticisims of the jury in the “Apology” and his arguments for accepting his sentencing in “Crito” and how Socrates’s views on living well impacted his views on accepting death in his own situation.)
Part II – 30 points
We can think of “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” as a single case study on a dying patient. Think of this case study in terms of the discussions between provider and patient that Kubler-Ross emphasizes in On Death & Dying. This is explicitly obvious when the doctor speaks to Ivan Ilyich, but is also apparent in Tolstoy’s descriptions of Ivan Ilyich’s thoughts. While dying, Ivan has the opportunity to reflect on his life and his death. Tolstoy captures the process of grieving one’s own death. Tolstoy wrote “The Death of Ivan Illyich” by 1886, nearly a century before Kubler-Ross published On Death & Dying. Nevertheless, it seems Tolstoy depicts at least some of the 5 stages of dying that Kubler-Ross later identified.
Write two paragraphs explaining how Tolstoy depicts the “stages” of dying and grieving one’s death that Kubler-Ross identified:
In paragraph 1, (1) identify one of the Kubler-Ross stages that Ivan Ilyich might be going through. (2) Give at least one specific example of Ivan Ilyich exhibiting that stage. (3) Say how Tolstoy’s depiction of the stage is the same as Kubler-Ross’s description and how it is different. If you think there are little to no similarities or little to no differences, say that. For example, we understand the stages of dying in Kubler-Ross’s account as methods by which the dying patient copes with their grief. Do you think that Ivan Ilyich is also coping?
In paragraph 2, do the same thing for another stage.
Part III – 10 points
Paragraph 1: Explain in detail the unconscious violinist thought experiment from the JJ Thompson reading. Be sure to clearly articulate how the example works in the argument. This will requires explaining what it is that Thompson is arguing and then saying how the Unconscious Violinist example helps make her point.
Part IV – 15 points
Paragraph 1: Define active and passive euthanasia from the James Rachels reading. Give an example of each.
Paragraph 2: How are these morally distinct? That is, in what way might one be moral and the other immoral?