Five philosophers on how to face death




We will all, presumably, die one day. That much is certain. But how we die, is at least somewhat, up to us. And how we understand death will dramatically change how we face it. We can turn to five of history’s most influential philosophers for wisdom, and maybe solace, as we meet our maker, writes Steven Luper.  How we view the nature and significance of death depends principally on what we take ourselves to be and what makes our existence good or bad, so modifying the latter can change the former.  In what follows I illustrate this dependence by sketching five distinctive philosophical perspectives on death:  the views of Gautama, Socrates, Epicurus, Zeno (and other Stoics), and Nietzsche.Siddhārtha Gautama / Buddha (c. 563 – c. 483 BCE)Of the many views of death that philosophers have developed, the strangest by far is that of Siddhārtha Gautama, the man who came to be known as Buddha.  His approach was shaped by his unusual views about the contents of the world.  Take an ordinary ob…

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