Death: 'nothing' gives insight

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (3):575-585 (2013)

Abstract

According to a widely accepted belief, we cannot know our own death—death means ‘nothing’ to us. At first sight, the meaning of ‘nothing’ just implies the negation or absence of ‘something’. Death then simply refers to the negation or absence of life. As a consequence, however, death has no meaning of itself. This leads to an ontological paradox in which death is both acknowledged and denied: death is … nothing. In this article, I investigate whether insight into the ontological paradox of the nothingness of death can contribute to a good end-of-life. By analysing Aquinas’, Heidegger’s and Derrida’s understanding of death as nothingness, I explore how giving meaning to death on different ontological levels connects to, and at the same time provides resistance against, the harsh reality of death. By doing so, I intend to demonstrate that insight into the nothingness of death can count as a framework for a meaningful dealing with death

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References found in this work

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Totality and Infinity.Emmanuel Levinas - 1961/1969 - Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Behaviorism 15 (1):73-82.
The Denial of Death.Ernest Becker - 1973 - New York: Free Press.

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