Fear of Death and the Will to Live

Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The fear of death resists philosophical attempts at reconciliation. Building on theories of emotion, I argue that we can understand our fear as triggered by a de se mode of thinking about death which comes into conflict with our will to live. The discursive mode of philosophy may help us to avoid the de se mode of thinking about death, but it does not satisfactorily address the problem. I focus instead on the voluntary diminishment of one’s will to live. I argue that we can encourage a natural tendency for the will to live to decline as we approach death. I then consider two objections: Is not the will to live too fundamental for us to control? And even if we can control it, would not a declining will to live result in a general despair that it is better to resist? I argue that both of these objections can be overcome.

Author's Profile

Tom Cochrane
Flinders University

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