A Being-towards-Death - the Vado mori

Dunne, Michael (2007) A Being-towards-Death - the Vado mori. Maynooth Philosophical Papers (4). pp. 1-16.

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The artistic output of Damien Hirst, especially his most recent work, the jewel encrusted ‘Skull’ makes sure that Nietzsche’s ‘unbidden’ guest remains somewhat within Western consciousness, despite the best efforts of modernity to exorcise the prospect of mortality. The theme of death is of course well inserted within the philosophical tradition. Plato writes in the Phaedo: ‘The one aim of those who practice philosophy in the proper manner is to practice for dying and death’, 2 and for Schopenhauer ‘death is the inspiration for philosophy’. 3 Much of the efforts of the philosophers in the face of death has been to ‘overcome’ the emotions associated with it, especially fear, terror, disgust. One thinks of the efforts of Epicurus to free his fellow man from the fears of death and of the punishments of the afterlife through a calm acceptance of ultimate dissolution at death. The Stoic insistence that we should remember that we are mortal, the memento mori as an ethical rejoinder to the hedonism of carpe diem, reemerges in renaissance and early modern times. From the history of philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries two philosophical movements were particularly influential in associating the acceptance of finitude with authentic human existence, namely existentialism and phenomenology.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Death; Being; Vado mori;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Philosophy
Item ID: 1006
Depositing User: Michael Dunne
Date Deposited: 20 May 2008
Journal or Publication Title: Maynooth Philosophical Papers
Publisher: Department of Philosophy NUIM
Refereed: Yes

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