Regret, Resilience, and the Nature of Grief

Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (4):486-508 (2019)
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Should we regret the fact that we are often more emotionally resilient in response to the deaths of our loved ones than we might expect -- that the suffering associated with grief often dissipates more quickly and more fully than we anticipate? Dan Moller ("Love and Death") argues that we should, because this resilience epistemically severs us from our loved ones and thereby "deprives us of insight into our own condition." I argue that Moller's conclusion is correct despite resting on a mistaken picture of the nature and significance of grief. Unlike Moller, I contend that grief is a composite emotional process, rather than a single mental state; that grief is a species of emotional attention rather than perception; and that grief is a form of activity directed at placing our relationships with the deceased on new terms. It is precisely because grief has these three features that it facilitates the scrutiny of our practical identities and thus fosters self-knowledge and self-understanding.

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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh


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