Wikipedia talk:Burials

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"Body"[edit]

"Body" seems like an odd term to apply to ashes or bones. "Remains" is more inclusive.   Will Beback  talk  22:14, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Hi, Will. AIUI, a body stays a "body" until it becomes "remains." ;) -Stevertigo 00:22, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
So then the body is left in the crematorium, and the ashes are interred? That may be a case of over-thinking this.   Will Beback  talk  00:25, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
If a body was buried 300 years ago, is it still a body, or is it presumed to have become remains.--Scott Mac (Doc) 10:35, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I think you could easily adapt this example language to the specific situation: "[His] body was entombed in a mausoleum" or "[His] body was buried at sea" (neither of which are properly in terra). "[His] ashes were scattered at sea" is obviously much better than "[He] was scattered at sea". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:40, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. If it (the distinction) is good enough for the ashes, its should be good enough for the body, too (no offense to any bodies). That is unless you think the frozen corpse on the table still has someone in there; just waiting for their chance to shine again, no doubt. -Stevertigo 23:44, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Note this also raises issues related to our colloquial/science concept that minds are created by brains (ie. bodies), such that the reactivation of a brain causes a reactivation of the mind. This appears, to me at least, to be a kind of science dogma. -Stevertigo 17:43, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Person and name[edit]

There's some interesting philosophical questions raised here. You tend to assume:

  1. that the physical body is distinct from something called the "person", or at least that that's the "secular point of view". Well, firstly we do "neutral point of view," not secular point of view, but that's minor since you argue that SPOV here is the same as religious point of view, wish see the person/soul as different from the body. I suppose a materialist point of view would reject both and say that there is no such things as the person as distinct from the body.
  2. That the name "John Smith" refers to the person as distinct from the physical entity. To say his body is interred, implies something else has happened to whatever distinctively made him "John Smith". A materialist might quibble.
  3. The the "body" remains the "body" regardless of decomposition, and therefore is interred, rather than was interred. If the body was put in a grave 2,000 years ago, and has bot been disturbed, does the body remain interred?

I'm not necessarily disagreeing, I'm just saying this is an interesting set of issues, and whilst there are some dreadful circumlocutions used on wikipedia, I'm not sure that insisting on a uniformed style is not somewhat problematic.--Scott Mac (Doc) 22:40, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

I'd agree with the last point. I don't see the need for uniformity on this matter.   Will Beback  talk  22:46, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
There is no danger of confusion between "Bloggs is buried at Westminster Abbey" and "Blogg's body is buried at Westminster Abbey". They mean the same thing. Only dead bodies are commonly buried; if they were alive when being interred that ought to be specified. There is no need for the uniform approach proposed here. Readers can draw their own existential conclusions. Fences and windows (talk) 23:50, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
I appreciate all the responses. To recap, I raised the issue and put it in the context of "accuracy," and linked this concept of accuracy to our general encylopedia-ness. I listed the main concepts, categorized them, and described them. No objections thus far. The objection I'm hearing deals with the idea that there is no real issue to deal with, and I might not agree. I like the idea of Wikipedia being ever more exact with its language, and that is why I wrote this (shortcut WP:BURY) as a "suggestion" —not a policy, not a style guide, and definitely not a "proposal" (for either). Will stated that "uniformity on this matter" is not warranted, and though very well stated, I have to point out that even in matters of policy, "uniformity" is rarely to be expected, at least as an immediate consequence. And unless one considers accuracy to be a matter of "peril," Fences, I don't think "danger" is an issue.
On the "interesting philosophical questions raised here," Scott, I am all for discussing these, but I realize that the real value of this is simply as a statement of concept, and not an implementation of policy. I think that over time people may consider it good form to deal with such statements more "accurately," perhaps similarly to what I have suggested. Regards, -Stevertigo 01:01, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
As with doc, I think the principle that applies is the Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia and uses ordinary language. There is rarely any confusion. As for implications, I could make a case that emphasizing that it's a person's body is primarily associated with religious views, as an equivalent for "mortal remains" with the implication that some of it isn't mortal. DGG (talk) 02:29, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
I am suggesting that the usage of "ordinary language" is only encyclopedic if it is accurate. None of the words I suggest come from an extraordinary vocabulary: the word "body" itself I understand to be used even among children. And while I agree "there is rarely any confusion," if the language itself is largely inaccurate outside of only the colloquial ("ordinary" as you say) usage, making it more accurate would not be outside of the bounds of an encyclopedia, would it? And if you actually did try to make the case about religious view, I can effectively rebut that point. I already do state that of the three uses secular, religious, and colloquial, the suggestion conforms well with the first two. The third, while fine in most cases, would naturally be deprecated when given an option to use 1) more accurate language form 2) two contexts of greater importance. -Stevertigo 08:28, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
The common phrase is not really inaccurate; it's imprecise. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:43, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
You are not wrong about it being imprecise, and likewise you are not right in thinking its accurate. My language is imprecise also, but its not inaccurate. Regards, -Stevertigo 02:05, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

I see no inaccuracy in the current language. Body only needs to be specified if you believe the person is somewhere else. --Apoc2400 (talk) 15:11, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Indeed. You understand that we have a lot of terms for people who are "somewhere else." If we have a house we can leave it, and when we do the answering machine will say "[I] not am home." If we are on an instant messaging client and we need to go do something, we let the client slip into "away" mode. The concept is not just true for places (material or virtual), but for anything which can be first occupied and then unoccupied. If we say someone is "not in their car," its understood just as well as if we said "out of the house," even though cars move around to different places. Same thing goes for boats, planes, and trains. That covers "places" and "vessels." And of course the body can be said to be a "vessel" of a certain kind too.
And different people occupy their bodies differently, and with great variablity. If someone is lazy, we can say that person "needs to get [a/back into] life." If someone is a bit preoccupied with mind-numbing nothingness, we can say that such person is "not all there" or even "out to lunch," not to mention the classic "[the lights are on, but] nobody's home." Someone who is acting quite out of sorts could be said to be "out of [their] skull." If someone is unconscious we can simply say "they are sleeping," but we can also say "they are in dreamland," or "they are out [like a light]." And someone who is not dead, but will die soon can be called "a goner;" ie. "gone," as in "away," as in "out," as in "not here" ("here," ostensibly means some place of being).
So I've dealt with your "somewhere else" clause in a number of dimensions; geolocation, vessel occupation, mental capacity/degree of engagement, unconsciousness, and near-death. Death of course follows straighforwardly: The body stops working (for whatever reason), and the person is no longer there. To deal with your point, it doesn't matter where the person has gone to (hence we don't have to get into it), it just matters that "they" (the person, individual, being) are no longer in, within, attached to, or else associated with, their former body. -Stevertigo 23:39, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
A problem that I have seen is the use of euphemisms for death, or mystical views of death. I can't recall which biographies of Indian mystics have had phrases like, "he left his earthly body" in place of "he died", but I beleive that there've been more than one.   Will Beback  talk  00:00, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I am not suggesting that we use language like "[Person]'s Earthly body is buried at [cemetery]." For one, "Earthly body" is largely redundant. Regards, -Stevertigo 17:39, 30 April 2009 (UTC)


I think the current approach is best; '[Person] is interred at [location]' is pretty clearly talking about the person's body, so there's no need to specify it. That's what 'interred' implies. Robofish (talk) 05:10, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

And I consider in particular a reference to "earthly body" as a direct statement there is some other form of a person's existence, which is a straight theological POV not held by all religions. I do not think that term is normally used except by those who specifically believe in a person's continued spiritual existence. It would be wrong to use it here except in direct quotation or in special contexts. DGG (talk) 23:43, 4 June 2009 (UTC)