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Death - Audio

by Professor Shelly Kagan

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(PHIL 176) There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? This course will examine a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. The possibility that death may not actually be the end is considered. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? Also a clearer notion of what it is to die is examined. What does it mean to say that a person has died? What kind of fact is that? And, finally, different attitudes to death are evaluated. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? How should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life? This class was recorded in Spring 2007.

Customer Reviews

Wonderful course!!

Have just started reading Ernest Becker, and this was a great "companion" lecture to listen to in light of Becker's theories. Dr. Kagan is an energetic and dynamic speaker who keeps your attention, even in an audio lecture. I am very glad I found this series, and I enjoyed each lecture immensely.

Good course with some caveats

I rate these lectures 4 stars with some caveats. First the energy and clarity of the presentation are superb. The first half of the course was outstanding. The main focus was does there exist a soul within a person. Dr. Kagen examines the issue from all sides including what previous philosophers such as Plato thought. The second half of the course was only mediocre. After assuming the materialistic/naturalistic starting point, the search for the value of human life was muddled. Dr. Kagen frequently used phrases such as “it seems to me that …”, “that doesn’t seem right” and “it appears to me”. There didn’t seem to be any foundation of objective human values. He doesn’t address the relativistic approach. Maybe "it seems to me" is relative. It appears that the materialistic worldview can never lead to objective values.


Only just getting into it, but very clear and exceptionally interesting.