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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Should one fear her own death?, or, more precisely,

Does death harm the individual who dies?

These are important questions because how a person views death is one of the greatest determinants of how they will carry out their existence and form a conception of life’s meaning. Further, although death ultimately consumed all people in history and will consume all people in the future, a comprehensive understanding of death is still lacking for philosophers and laymen alike. This research utilizes a comparison of three contrasting historical viewpoints of death to answer the above questions. Epicurus, the founder of Epicurean philosophy, believed that we have no reason to fear death. Thomas Nagel, on the other hand, prescribed a deprivationist/harm theory, arguing that death is bad because it denies us of life’s goods. Finally, the existentialist Heidegger thought that we ought to experience a sort of weighty anxiety, but not fear, when anticipating our own death. This report argues that Nagel’s account of death is superior because it most seamlessly accounts for humans’ personal relationship with their demise without neglecting a strict objective framework of logic. Nagel’s theory is most attractive because it approaches the question of death at the root, and confidently justifies the predisposition to fear death which most people possess.

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