•  
  •  
 

Abstract 摘要

According to recent statistics, the global organ shortage is particularly serious in China. Some scholars argue that filial piety, a key principle of Confucianism, is the main deterrent to organ donation in China. The same is true of whole-body donation for medical research and education. Most hospitals and medical schools in China refuse to accept bodies even when the donors have provided written consent in their wills, due to pressure from the donors’ children.

In this essay, the author uses a recent case in Zhejiang Province to illustrate the difficulties faced by children in carrying out their parents’ planned body donation, even when donation is understood as a moral act. The author shows that children are dissuaded primarily by adherence to the Confucian virtue of filial piety, as keeping the body of one’s parent intact after death is viewed as a form of filial reverence. Many Confucian scholars today argue that the opportunity to save lives by donating one’s organs or body is more valuable than preserving the integrity of the dead body. However, it is not unusual for the relatives of the willing donor, particularly their children, to refuse to carry out the donor’s wishes for fear of accusations of violating the precept of filial piety.

The author shows that filial piety is widely considered to epitomize the Confucian value system. According to the Confucian text The Book of Filial Piety, for example, filial piety is “a perfect virtue and all-embracing rule of conduct.” However, the question here is whether children’s fulfillment of their parents’ desire to donate their bodies is a more filial gesture than keeping their parents’ dead bodies intact. The author argues that honoring one’s parents’ wish for body donation is consistent with the Confucian emphasis on family reverence and the provision of ancestral rites for deceased parents. Body donation is an act of ren (benevolence) and yi (rightness), as it benefits medical research and thus society at large. Fulfilling this desire to help others is an appropriate way of remembering and honoring one’s parents.

在當今中國遺體捐獻中,常常會出現這樣的現象,即子女反對或反悔父母生前留下的有關遺體捐獻的遺願,其最大因素是子女擔心背上“不孝”之名。本文通過徵引《論語》和《孝經》的儒家經典文獻,對“孝”的具體意義進行梳理與論證。作者認為,子女支持並完成父母捐獻遺體的遺願符合儒家孝道的核心思想,因為孝道首先意味著子女應該順從父母的意願,即便這個意願會產生爭議。當然,當父母的意願不合於“道”時,子女有諫爭的義務,但遺體捐獻顯然是符合於道的行為。

Share

COinS