Death: A Philosophical Inquiry  book cover
1st Edition

Death: A Philosophical Inquiry

ISBN 9780415837620
Published September 16, 2014 by Routledge
148 Pages

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Book Description

From Nietzsche's pronouncement that "God is dead" to Camus' argument that suicide is the fundamental question of philosophy, the concept of death plays an important role in existential phenomenology, reaching from Kierkegaard to Heidegger and Marcel.

This book explores the phenomenology of death and offers a unique way into the phenomenological tradition. Paul Fairfield examines the following key topics:

  • the modern denial of death
  • Heidegger's important concept of 'being-toward-death' and its centrality in phenomenological ideas, such as authenticity and existence
  • the philosophical significance of death rituals: what explains the imperative toward ritual around death, and what is its purpose and meaning?
  • death in an age of secularism
  • the philosophy and ethics of suicide
  • death as a mystery rather than a philosophical problem to be solved
  • the relationship between hope and death.

Death: A Philosophical Inquiry is essential reading for students of phenomenology and existentialism, and will also be of interest to students in related fields such as religion, anthropology and the medical humanities.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Death and Existence  1. The Denial of Death  2. Death Rituals  3. Voluntary Death  4. Being-Toward-Death  5. Openness to Mystery  6. On Speculation and Hope  Conclusion: Death as Educator.  Index

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Paul Fairfield is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University, Canada.


"This is a remarkable, very well informed and concise overview of the phenomenon of death. Fairfield puts his vast knowledge at the service of a lucid approach that combines a third-person perspective - analyzing the phenomenon of death - with a first-person perspective - an existentialist account of what it means to experience death." - Pol Vandevelde, Marquette University, USA

"This is a fantastic discussion of the role death plays in the quest for meaning in the modern world. Along the way, Fairfield interacts productively with a variety of significant figures and issues connected to philosophy, sociology, and psychology. The treatment of suicide and the value of life is particularly compelling, as Fairfield explores nuances that often go unconsidered. This is a great place to start for anyone interested in existentialism or the philosophy of death." - Adam Buben, Leiden University, The Netherlands  

"This study treats various philosophical issues concerning death, among them death and anxiety, death in a secular age, and the ethics of suicide. … The author takes an existentialist stance on death, resting on Heidegger's concept of "being-toward-death," with the argument largely following a philosophical tradition deriving from Socrates's arguments in the Phaedo. ... Summing Up: Recommended." - F. Wilson, CHOICE