The Consolations of Mortality: Making Sense of Death

The Consolations of Mortality: Making Sense of Death

by Andrew Stark


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The Consolations of Mortality: Making Sense of Death by Andrew Stark

A penetrating and provocative exploration of human mortality, from Epicurus to Joan Didion

For those who don’t believe in an afterlife, the wisdom of the ages offers four great consolations for mortality: that death is benign and good; that mortal life provides its own kind of immortality; that true immortality would be awful; and that we experience the kinds of losses in life that we will eventually face in death. Can any of these consolations honestly reconcile us to our inevitable demise?
In this timely book, Andrew Stark tests the psychological truth of these consolations and searches our collective literary, philosophical, and cultural traditions for answers to the question of how we, in the twenty-first century, might accept our mortal condition. Ranging from Epicurus and Heidegger to bucket lists, the flaming out of rock stars, and the retiring of sports jerseys, Stark’s poignant and learned exploration shows how these consolations, taken together, reveal death as a blessing no matter how much we may love life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300219258
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/23/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 563,598
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Andrew Stark is professor of management and political science at the University of Toronto. His books include The Limits of Medicine and Drawing the Line: Public and Private in America. His articles have appeared in American Political Science Review, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, among others. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 Death is Benign

1 Attending Your Own Funeral 13

2 How to Rest on Your Laurels 32

3 Look Who's Calling Himself Nothing 52

4 Bucket Lists 70

Part 2 Mortality Intimates Immortality

5 Retiring Your Jersey 99

6 Regrets" How Much Time Do You Have? 111

7 You Never Know 126

8 Making Your Mark 133

Part 3 Immortality Would Be Malignant

9 This All There Is? 151

10 Still Life 158

11 A Wistful Backward Glance 169

12 Making the Sun Run 176

Interlude Mortality versus Immortality: Why Not the Right to Choose? 191

Part 4 Life Intimates Death

13 The Big Sleep 197

14 Stardust and Moonshine 203

15 Every Time I Say Goodbye, I Die a Little 212

Conclusion My Last Espresso 226

Notes 233

Index 263

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