Cover image for The consolations of mortality : making sense of death / Andrew Stark.
Title:
The consolations of mortality : making sense of death / Andrew Stark.
ISBN:
9780300219258
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2016]
Physical Description:
ix, 275 pages ; 22 cm
Contents:
Part 1. Death is benign. Attending your own funeral ; How to rest on your laurels ; Look who's calling himself nothing ; Bucket lists -- Part 2. Mortality intimates immortality. Retiring your jersey ; Regrets? How much time do you have? ; You never know ; Making your mark -- Part 3. Immortality would be malignant. Is this all there is? ; Still life ; A wistful backward glance ; Making the sun run ; Mortality versus immortality? Why not the right to choose? -- Part 4. Life intimates death. The big sleep ; Stardust and moonshine ; Every time I say goodbye, I die a little ; My last espresso.
Abstract:
"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."--Jacket flap.
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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

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.


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this exciting and accessible book, Stark (management & political science, Univ. of Toronto) explores four ways in which philosophers have argued that death is not a harm: death is benign, the goods of immortality can be obtained by the mortal, immortality is worse than mortality, and life and death are comparable. There is a lot to like about this book-each chapter is engaging, upbeat, accessible, and explores a wide range of philosophical theory about mortality and immortality. Stark adeptly illustrates these ideas through discussions of classic literature. As a review of positive stances toward our mortality, this book succeeds. This reviewer's primary concern is that Stark treats the question as a binary choice between an immortal life (that cannot end) and a normal, average-length mortal life (one that is not "cut short"). However, it is clear from the outset that we don't necessarily want immortality but rather control over whether we live or die-an open-ended life that we can abandon if it becomes too tedious or torturous. Similarly, Stark neglects to spend much time discussing the desirability of an eternal afterlife of the kind in which many believe. In light of this, the book feels somewhat incomplete. Verdict Still, recommended for all libraries.-William Simkulet, Cleveland State Univ. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Death is Benign
1 Attending Your Own Funeralp. 13
2 How to Rest on Your Laurelsp. 32
3 Look Who's Calling Himself Nothingp. 52
4 Bucket Listsp. 70
Part 2 Mortality Intimates Immortality
5 Retiring Your Jerseyp. 99
6 Regrets" How Much Time Do You Have?p. 111
7 You Never Knowp. 126
8 Making Your Markp. 133
Part 3 Immortality Would Be Malignant
9 This All There Is?p. 151
10 Still Lifep. 158
11 A Wistful Backward Glancep. 169
12 Making the Sun Runp. 176
Interlude Mortality versus Immortality: Why Not the Right to Choose?p. 191
Part 4 Life Intimates Death
13 The Big Sleepp. 197
14 Stardust and Moonshinep. 203
15 Every Time I Say Goodbye, I Die a Littlep. 212
Conclusion My Last Espressop. 226
Notesp. 233
Indexp. 263

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