A Philosopher’s Look at Our Fear of Death and Suggestions for Reconciliation with Death

Cambridge philosopher Stephen Cave talks about ways we try to reconcile ourselves with death and has some suggestions of his own in his Ted Talk “The Four Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death.”  He discusses how people have tried to deal with knowing they will die through (i) finding elixirs through science; (ii) believing in a resurrection of the body; (iii) believing the soul lives on; and (iv) relying on our legacies to live on.

Cave acknowledges that coming to terms with mortality isn’t easy but has some suggestions, starting with realizing that immortality isn’t all it’s cracked-up to be; realizing we need not fear death; and cultivating virtues that make us appreciate the time we have, rather than worrying about it being finite. The virtues he reminds us to cultivate are to focus on the present, a theme common to many wisdom traditions; to focus on other people, with the ego receding and becoming increasingly merged in the universal life; and to practice  gratitude.

Here’s a link to Cave’s Ted Talk:


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