Making Sense of Dying and Death

Making Sense of Dying and Death

Making Sense of Dying and Death

Making Sense of Dying and Death

Synopsis

Health, illness and disease are topics well-suited to interdisciplinary inquiry. This book brings together scholars from around the world who share an interest in and a commitment to bridging the traditional boundaries of inquiry. We hope that this book begins new conversations that will situate health in broader socio-cultural contexts and establish connections between health, illness and disease and other socio-political issues. This book is the outcome of the first global conference on Making Sense of: Health, Illness and Disease, held at St Catherine's College, Oxford, in June 2002. The selected papers pursue a range of topics from the cultural significance of narratives of health, illness and disease to healing practices in contemporary society as well as patients' illness experiences.

Excerpt

This book aims to extend upon the growing body of literature concerned with death and dying. The book originated in a conference held in Brussels towards the end of 2002. The conference brought together scholars and practitioners from several continents, united by their interest and expertise in the phenomena of death and dying. The content of this volume reflects the broad, multi-disciplinary character of papers presented during the conference and consists of revised versions of some of those papers. This book aims to analyse various experiences and representations of death and dying from the perspective of academic disciplines as diverse as theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and literature. The rationale for this is simple. As objects of study, death and dying cannot usefully be reduced to a single academic perspective. One cannot hope to gain a deep and comprehensive understanding of death and dying by gazing at them through a single lens. Thus, a philosopher’s perspective differs from that of the sociologist or anthropologist, whose own perspective is likely to differ again from that of a literary scholar or theologian. Bringing these perspectives together in a single volume fundamentally aims to both accurately record those enduring properties of the phenomena, such as mourning and fear whilst comprehensively analysing the diversity and heterogeneity of human beings’ attempts to come to terms with this most forbidding of existential horizons, as witnessed, for example, by different conceptions of when death occurs and recent developments in funereal rituals within Western societies. The broad, multi-disciplinary character of this book aims to do justice to the phenomena of death and dying and distinguishes it from those other volumes on the subject that take a narrower, more academically restrictive approach. The book itself is divided into three sections.

The first section comprises chapters by Kasher, Weaver and Ford, all of whom are concerned with the experience of grief and mourning. The chapter by Kasher, a moral philosopher, focuses upon the question of how to deal with death, especially the death of loved ones. He argues against what he refers to as a ‘naturalisation of forgetting’ and outlines an alternative view of mourning and death that, he believes, can be addressed to the religiously and secularly minded alike. Kasher argues that the dead live on in those who love them and that this reveals something profound about how that life was lived. Thus he defends what he terms a view of ‘life in the heart’ through which the dead live on and . . .

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