Getting Comfortable with Death; Or, Better Dying Through Better Thinking


If better thinking can lead to better living and if dying is an inevitable part of living, then it follows that better thinking ought to lead to better dying. And yet the history of Western civilization demonstrates that clear thinking about death is exceedingly difficult. This seems particularly true nowadays due to the rise of a modern form of medicine that has both largely removed death from everyday life and promoted the conceit that death can be — and ought to be — perpetually forestalled (if not conquered outright). This lecture will review some of the key historical Western approaches to human mortality in an effort to consider what lessons those who lived and died in the past may have to offer us who live and will die in the present.