• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Dying is a social as well as physiological phenomenon. Each society characterizes and, consequently, treats death and dying in its own individual ways—ways that differ markedly. These particular patterns of death and dying engender modal cultural responses, and such institutionalized behavior has familiar, economical, educational, religious, and political implications. The Handbook of Death and Dying takes stock of the vast literature in the field.

Dealing with Death: Western Philosophical Perspectives
Dealing with death: Western philosophical perspectives

Seeking means to transcend death is a widespread, if not universal, inclination among human beings. The Western philosophical tradition has developed numerous viewpoints on, and fostered various attitudes toward, our mortal nature. In this chapter, I discuss five distinct strategies that have had significant impacts on how we think about and cope with death. I offer an explanation of how these ideas get developed by some of the major philosophers and their followers, followed by a consideration of the attitudes toward death that these views are likely to engender. For a discussion of reincarnation, Plato's account is a good place to begin; I follow this with an overview of the medieval Christian understanding of ...

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