Reflect on Your Death

Mon, Nov 29

Death presents us with perhaps the most formidable challenge to living a good life. Philosophical questions about death abound: what is it to die? Is the state of death separable from the process of dying? If so, which of these -- if either -- are bad? And how could they be bad for us, if we don't exist once we die? 

In this class period, we'll revisit the competing views of the good life we've been considering all semester, and ask what they have to say about the role death should play in our thinking about this topic. By the end of this class period, you will: 

  1. Understand and explain Bernard Williams's argument that immortality is undesirable, as well as Scheffler's response
  2. Be able to articulate and critique Emanuel's argument that we shouldn't want to live too long
  3. Be able to articulate what role you think contemplation of death plays in the good life

Read This:

PHILOSOPHICAL ARTICLE:

Longer Lives and the Alleged Tedium of Immortality (Williams and Scheffler on Death)

APPLICATION ARTICLE:

Why I Hope to Die at 75

Do This:

Complete these steps before you come to class

  • Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
    • Have you ever talked to someone about their impending death? If so, what did you learn?
    • Do you anticipate having any "deathbed regrets"? (Or, put another way, if you were told you'd die tomorrow, would you regret how you've lived up until now?) How should we use such anticipated regrets in shaping our lives now?

Watch This: