Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy

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This book contributes to current bioethical debates by providing a critical analysis of the philosophy of human death. Bernard N. Schumacher discusses contemporary philosophical perspectives on death, creating a dialogue between phenomenology, existentialism, and analytic philosophy. He also examines the ancient philosophies that have shaped our current ideas about death. His analysis focuses on three fundamental problems: (1) the definition of human death, (2) the knowledge of mortality and of human death as such, and (3) the question of whether death is “nothing” to us or, on the contrary, whether it can be regarded as an absolute or relative evil. Drawing on scholarship published in four languages and from three distinct currents of thought, this volume represents a comprehensive and systematic study of the philosophy of death, one that provides a provocative basis for discussions of the bioethics of human mortality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Schumacher (Univ. de Fribourg, Switzerland) here makes a significant contribution to biomedical ethics concerning the question of death.... The book will benefit those interested in biomedical ethics and those looking for a good point of origin in furthering the philosophical dialogue on death.... Recommended...."
-J. R. Couch, Keene State College, CHOICE

"Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy is a work of striking originality, well-crafted and rich in interesting ideas."
—George Lăzăroiu, PhD /IISHSS, New York, Review of Contemporary Philosophy

" and documentation is impressive..."
—Yves Laberge, Québec, Laval théologique et philosophique

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521171199
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard N. Schumacher received his Ph.D. in philosophy and his Habilitation from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where he currently teaches. He has also served as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Providence College, Rhode Island, and Lugano. He is the author of A Philosophy of Hope (2003) and has edited and co-edited numerous scholarly works, including L'humain et la personne (2008), Der Mensch und die Person (2008) and A Cosmopolitan Hermit: Modernity and Tradition in the Philosophy of Josef Pieper (2009).

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Table of Contents

Part I. Human Personal Death: 1. Introduction; 2. Biological death; 3. So-called 'personal death'; 4. The anthropological challenge of neocortical death; 5. Ethics as the criterion for defining death; 6. Diversity of definitions of death in a secular ethic; 7. Conclusion; Part II. Theory of Knowledge about Death: 8. Scheler's intuitive knowledge of mortality; 9. Heidegger's being-towards-death; 10. Is mortality the object of foreknowledge?; 11. Inductive knowledge of death and Jean-Paul Sartre; 12. Knowledge of mortality is inseparable from the relation to the other; 13. Death as the object of experience; Part III. Does Death Mean Nothing to Us?: 14. The 'nothingness of death': Epicurus and his followers; 15. Discussion of experientialism and the need for a subject; 16. Death: an evil of privation; Conclusion.

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