An Existential Understanding of Death

03 Mar 2013

death3A Phenomenology of Ontological Anxiety

The ‘fear of death’ is a composite experience encompassing:
(1) the abstract, objective, external, empirical fact of biological death;
(2) our personal, subjective, emotional fear of ceasing-to-be
—which arises from our awareness of our own finitude, and
(3) our ownmost ontological anxiety
—our Existential Predicament disguised as the fear of ceasing-to-be.
This least understood and most repressed existential dimension of death  will be the central focus of this phenomenological investigation.

    Whenever “death” is mentioned, we think first of biological death, but this tendency to focus exclusively on the objective, terminal fact of dying may well be a trick of thought designed to protect us  from noticing our fear of ceasing-to-be or our even deeper ontological anxiety. We have other protective techniques as well: religious illusions, philosophical desensitization, and diversionary small-talk. Most of these distracting ploys amount to seeing death exclusively as an objective event, which befalls all living organisms eventually.
Somehow we must reverse this tendency to obscure, evade, and deny the deeper dimensions of death.

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