Reflecting on the InevitableMortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy, and Health

Reflecting on the InevitableMortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy, and Health

Peter J. Adams

Print publication date: Mar 2020

ISBN: 9780190945008

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Death studies have, over the past twenty years, witnessed a flourishing of research and scholarship particularly in areas such as dying and bereavement, cultural practices and fear of dying. But, despite its importance, a specific focus on the nature of personal mortality has attracted surprisingly little attention. Reflecting on the Inevitable: Mortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy, and Health breaks new ground by bringing together available ideas and research on the meaning of one’s own death. Its content is organized around the question of how an ongoing relationship might be possible when the threat of consciousness coming to an end points to an unthinkable and unspeakable nothingness. The book then argues that, despite this threat, an ongoing relationship with one’s own death is still possible by means of conceptual devices that help shape personal mortality into a relatable object. Four of these devices, or “enabling frames,” are examined: essential structures, passionate suffusion, point-of-transition, and self-generative process. While each frame conceptualizes mortality differently, they share a capacity to move it from unintelligibility to something we can think and speak about, thereby enabling us to maintain an ongoing engagement. The final chapters explore ways in which pursuing a relationship with our own deaths could become a normal and acceptable activity throughout our lives.