Exploring the Philosophy of Death and Dying: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives is the first book to offer students the full breadth of philosophical issues that are raised by the end of life. Included are many of the essential voices that have contributed to the philosophy of death and dying throughout history and in contemporary research. The 38 chapters in its nine sections contain classic texts (by authors such as Epicurus, Hume, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer) and new short argumentative essays, specially commissioned for this volume, by world-leading contemporary experts.
Exploring the Philosophy of Death and Dying introduces students to both theoretical issues (whether we can survive death, whether death is truly bad for us, whether immortality would be desirable, etc.) and urgent practical issues (the ethics of suicide, the value of grief, the appropriate medical criteria for declaring death, etc.) raised by human mortality, enabling instructors to adapt it to a wide array of institutions and student audiences.
As a pedagogical benefit, PowerPoints, discussion questions, and test questions for each chapter are included as online ancillary materials.
Table of Contents
PART I When Do We Die?
1 Defining Death: A Report on the Medical, Legal and Ethical Issues in the Determination of Death (Excerpt)
President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems In Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research
2 Defining Death in a Technological World: Why Brain Death Is Death
John P. Lizza
3 We Die When Entropy Overwhelms Homeostasis
4 What It Is to Die
PART II Can We Survive Our Death?
5 The Tragic Sense of Life (Excerpts)
Miguel de Unamuno
6 Can We Survive Our Deaths?
7 The Possibility of an Afterlife
David Hershenov and Rose Hershenov
PART III Can Death Be Good or Bad for Us? If So, When Is It Good or Bad for Us?
8 Letter to Menoeceus
9 Two Arguments for Epicureanism
10 Why Death Is Not Bad for the One Who Dies
James Stacey Taylor
11 Death Is Bad for Us When We’re Dead
12 Making Death Not Quite as Bad for the One Who Dies
PART IV Can Lucretius’ Asymmetry Problem Be Solved?
13 On the Nature of Things (Excerpts)
14 If You Want to Die Later, Then Why Don’t You Want to Have Been Born Earlier?
15 Coming Into and Going Out of Existence
PART V Would Immortality Be Good for Us?
16 The Epic of Gilgamesh (Excerpts)
17 The Story of the Man Who Did Not Wish to Die
Yei Theodora Ozaki
18 How to Live a Never-Ending Novela (Or, Why Immortality Needn’t Undermine Identity
19 Taking Stock of the Risks of Life without Death
20 Immortality, Boredom, and Standing for Something
PART VI What Is the Best Attitude to Take Toward Our Mortality?
21 Death, Mortality, and Meaning
22 Fitting Attitudes Towards Deprivations
23 The Enchiridion (Excerpts)
24 Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion (Excerpts)
25 Voluntary Death
PART VII How Should We React to the Deaths of Others?
26 Letter to Lucilius
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
27 Why Grieve?
28 The Significance of Future Generations
29 Death and Survival Online
PART VIII Is Suicide Rationally or Morally Defensible?
30 Whether One Is Allowed to Kill Oneself
St Thomas Aquinas
31 Of Suicide (Excerpts)
32 Suicide is Sometimes Rational and Morally Defensible
33 Suicide and Its Discontents
34 An Irrational Suicide?
PART IX How Does Death Affect the Meaningfulness of Our Lives?
35 World as Will and Representation (Excerpts)
36 Death in Mind: Life, Meaning, and Mortality
37 Meaning in Life in Spite of Death
38 Out of the Blue into the Black: Reflections on Death and Meaning
Michael Cholbi is Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and the founder of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying. His publications include Suicide: The Philosophical Dimensions (2011), Immortality and the Philosophy of Death (2015), and Grief: A Philosophical Guide (2021).
Travis Timmerman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Seton Hall University and executive committee member of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death and Dying. He specializes in the philosophy of death, normative ethics, and applied ethics. He has been the recipient of a National Endowment of the Humanities grant and co-recipient of an Immortality Project grant for his work in ethics and death respectively.
"The areas of death, immortality, meaning in life, and related issues are hot topics in contemporary philosophy. Once the domain only of European philosophers, especially the existentialists, in the last few decades Anglo-American analytic philosophers have jumped in. This book is an excellent introduction to the best work on these interrelated issues. The editors have done an outstanding job of selecting authors who know their stuff and write very accessibly. This book would be perfect for an undergraduate class, and it would also be invaluable to anyone interested in learning the lay of the philosophical land in this lively area of historical and contemporary interest. The book shows how philosophy engages with issues of deep human interest."
John Martin Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Riverside
"This splendid collection is distinctive in many ways. The essays address issues that really matter to us, such as whether it is bad to die, and if so, why, whether we might survive death, and whether the inevitability of death undermines meaning in our lives. Although most of the essays were written by contemporary philosophers for this collection, there are also judicious selections from classic writings in the history of philosophy, including works by ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and works from Eastern traditions as well. Those who are haunted in one way or another by the specter of death, as most of us are, will find much careful argument, as well as some genuine wisdom in these pages."
Jeff McMahan, White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford