It can come as something of a surprise to learn that western
religions are not much interested in immortality. Take
ancient Judaism, the Judaism of the Hebrew Bible.
Immortality is hardly mentioned. Humans are said to go to
‘sheol’, a shadowy subterranean abode, or...
I wish I could live forever. Though maybe in a different
body, with a new nose. Do great authors of the past and
present have any wisdom to impart on this theme? Which are
the best ones to read?
This is a...
One of the greatest preoccupations of humanity is how to
resist our mortality. But does our fantasy of living forever
in fact stop us living fully? Author of Immortality Stephen
Cave thinks so. Here he explores our desire to outwit death,
and gives us...
Consider the following situation: a patient in a hospital
ward posts ‘Dead’ in her/his online microblog status
update. She/he is in the final stages of a terminal illness.
She/he, or a relative/friend, posted this message using a
smart phone device from her/his hospital bed....
When meeting new people I often get asked what I do.
‘Philosophy?’, people sometimes say in
response, ‘it sounds very interesting but what do you do
with it?’. In some circles, philosophy is seen
as impractical, abstract, even useless. I think that the
Last Saturday was the Jewish Day of Atonement. For 24 hours,
from sunset to sunset, we neither eat nor drink, we don't
wear leather (a sign of comfort and luxury), and we don't
wash or bathe. Synagogues are full many non-observant Jews
Where was it? said he to himself. Where was it that I read
of a condemned man who, at the hour of death, says or thinks
that if the alternative were offered to him of existing
somewhere, on a height of rock or...
We don't like writing about death any more than we like
thinking about it. Just listen to the string of euphemisms
in Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch:
He has ceased to be!
He's expired and gone to meet his maker!
He's's a stiff!
Bereft of life!
What is hope? In his autobiography, Miracles of Life, the
writer J.G. Ballard offers an arresting case in point, which
I think gets to the heart of the matter.
He tells of the apparently most hopeless moment in his life.
He, his wife and...
Early in the morning on the fifth of February AD 62, a
gigantic earthquake rippled beneath the Roman province of
Campania and in seconds, killed thousands of unsuspecting
inhabitants. Large sections of Pompeii collapsed on top of
people in their beds. Attempts to rescue...
Metaphor is not just for poets. We all use metaphor all the
time, and research in the social and cognitive sciences
shows how metaphorical thinking influences us in surprising,
hidden, and often oddball ways.
People holding a hot cup of coffee are more likely...