TOWARD A PHILOSOPHY OF DEATH CURRENT PERSPECTIVES IN LIGHT OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF GABRIEL MARCEL (FRANCE)

DANIEL GERARD O'HARE, Fordham University

Abstract

While no fact is more certain and no concern is more inevitable than death, attempts to contend with that reality have frequently proven inadequate. Much of the dissatisfaction results from the paradox of raising the question while avoiding the issue in its existential fullness. Fear and misunderstanding are not assuaged by recourse to objective analyses. For far from being a remote or detachable issue, death is as pervasive, as abiding, and as present as life itself, thereby suggesting the radical incompleteness of a philosophy of the person, indeed of a metaphysics, in which death has not been sufficiently treated. The present study offers an approach to such adequacy.^ Under consideration will be representative positions on the fact of mortality, its acceptance, and the question of immortality from the history of Western thought, an intellectual history which rarely evidenced detailed reflection on death. Included in the projected philosophy of death are the contributions of two seemingly divergent perspectives. First, recent clinical research, particularly studies of protracted dying in the terminally ill, affords a previously untapped source of information for understanding the experience and its ramifications. Secondly, an overview of Existentialism presents a variety of insights from the sole philosophical posture singularly preoccupied with death.^ A study of the relationship between freedom and death in Gabriel Marcel displays the environed nature of death, a factor remarkably similar to the clinical data emphasizing the need to view death in the total context of shared human existence. Disavowing objective analysis, Marcel urges the pursuit of the exigence of Being and the possibility of transcendence.^ Comparing the clinical data with the thought of the Existentialists, particularly Marcel, it is possible to maintain that despair is only increased and frustration exacerbated by the failure to confront death in its fullness. In his exposition of death as mystery, Marcel offers a vehicle for transcending the limitations of objective analysis in recognizing the encompassing nature of the reality, for preservation of individual dignity in deepening an awareness of the invocation to ontological belonging, and for thus overcoming isolation and alienation in the hope of yielding meaning not absurdity to life. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy

Recommended Citation

O'HARE, DANIEL GERARD, "TOWARD A PHILOSOPHY OF DEATH CURRENT PERSPECTIVES IN LIGHT OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF GABRIEL MARCEL (FRANCE)" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615702.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615702

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