Sex and Death: A Reappraisal of Human Mortality / Edition 1

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"For centuries people have debated the nature of the human self. Running beneath these various arguments lie three certainties - we are born, reproduce sexually, and die. The models of spirituality which dominate the Western tradition have claimed that it is possible to transcend these aspects of human physicality by ascribing to human beings alternative traits, such as consciousness, mind and reason. By locating the essence of human life outside its basic physical features, mortality itself has come to be viewed as a problem, for it appears to render human life both meaningless and absurd. Complex connections have then been made between the key features of life: sex is linked with death, and birth becomes the event that introduces the child to the world of decay - and ultimately to death itself." This book exposes the way in which the preoccupation with transcendence in both religious and secular thinking has distorted our sense of what it is to be human. At the same time, Sex and Death offers an alternative approach to the debate, based on an acceptance of mortality that emphasizes the depth and profundity possible in human life. It is an argument which will be essential reading for students of philosophy or religion, as well as the general reader interested in these debates.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...[T]his book is passionate and temperate, thoughtful and bold.It is also beautifully written and a pleasure to read." EstherReed, Reviews in Religion and Theology

"All of us were born; all of us will die; all of us are sexual.Beverley Clack's new book takes an intelligent andthought-provoking look at these basic human realities, showing howspiritual meaning and physical reality conjoin. It is awide-ranging and carefully argued book that makes unexpected andimaginative connections. It is also a book of compassionatehumanity." Grace M. Jantzen, University of Manchester

"Western accounts of the best human life have usually picturedmasculine reason and will as battling to transcend and escape fromnature, sex and death, and have been marked by a weirdly negativeattitude especially for the female reproductive apparatus. BeverleyClack rejects that whole tradition and instead sees the good lifeas growing out of an acceptance of the body, transience, sex anddeath. She boldly tackles, not just Augustine and Freud, but alsoSade, head-on. This is a vigorous and enjoyable study, and (ofcourse) she's right." Don Cupitt, Emmanuel College,Cambridge

"This is an engaging and thoughtful piece of work, convincing inits own terms"Elizabeth Stuart, Theology

" [the book] leads readers to engage philosophically witharguments that have the potential to change their fundamentalattitudes" Stan van Hooft, Philosophy in Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745622781
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverley Clack is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies and Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University. She is also the author of The Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction (Polity, 1998), with Brian R. Clack.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Transcending Mortality: Plato's Philosophy and Augustine's Theology 10
2 Transcending the Void: Sex and Death in Sartre and Beauvoir's Existentialism 39
3 Eros, Thanatos and the Human Self: Sigmund Freud 60
4 Sex and Death in a Meaningless Universe: The Marquis de Sade 80
5 Living in Accordance with Nature: Seneca 104
Conclusion: Sex, Death, and the Meaningful Life 126
Notes 137
References and Bibliography 145
Index 154
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