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Herbert Fingarette (1921-2018) was a philosopher who taught at the University of California for 40 years, from 1948 to 1988. His published works covered a variety of subjects: self-deception, addiction, Chinese philosophy, and - in a book that he published in 1996 - the philosophy of death.

Naturally, as he grew older and older, this last subject was one that played on his mind more and more. Thus, at the age of 97 (in what would turn out to be the final year of his life), he starred in the following video, where he revisited the subject:



The video is 18 minutes long, but here's a summary of his main points:

  • In his book, Fingarette had argued that there it was not rational to be afraid of dying - because, after death, there is no suffering, no unhappiness, and simply no being. (This is, of course, barring any kind of afterlife, such as those which form a central part of many world religions!)
  • However, in his later years, he found that the idea of his own death began to haunt him. At this point, he still thought there was no good reason to be afraid; however, this didn't change the fact that he was afraid. This spurred him to explore the reasons for his feelings - which, at that point, he had no rational explanation for.
  • In order to figure out why he was afraid of the end of his life, he first pondered the meaning of life itself: "What is the point of it all?". He thought about this question many times; however, he could never come up with an answer that satisfied him. In the end, he concluded that it was a foolish question, which he should stop asking himself.
  • His thoughts on life and death took a further turn in the year 2011, when his wife of 66 years passed away. Given how close they had been, and how long they had been married, it was only natural that he was left feeling that "half of me has gone" :( .
  • Still, while the absence of his wife was difficult for him to come to terms with, it didn't leave him wanting to die. Indeed, in light of his intense thoughts on the subject, a lot of life's other pleasures (even very simple ones, like admiring the trees visible from his own back yard) seemed to take on a new level of beauty. However, this only made the thought of death even more difficult - as it taught him that he hadn't yet fully appreciated things that he'd been doing for decades.
  • With all of his other writings (on self-deception, Chinese philosophy, and so on), Fingarette was able to finish them feeling satisfied that he'd solved the problem. However, he still hadn't truly figured out why he feared his own death so much: to him, even at the age of 97, this remained an open question.

Quite a moving video - although, given that he passed away less than a year after starring in this, it does sadden me that he probably never came up with a good solution to the problem :( . Then again, I suppose countless other philosophers before him (and no doubt many after him) haven't been able to come up with a definitive answer either. Still, do you have any thoughts of your own on the subject?
It's something I've always wondered about, C. What's the point of having life when we're only going to lose it eventually? Given that not everyone gets to fulfil their ambitions, why are we here?
Well, I suppose the point is to do as much good as we can (and experience as much pleasure as we can) during our limited time on this planet. I guess that's a good thing in a way: it gives us a sense of urgency that we simply wouldn't have if we were immortal.

As for fearing death... it's not something I do TBH. I fear some of the things that typically come with death (for example, the possibility of suffering in the lead-up to death, and the impact it would have on those left behind) - but, I'm not scared of the end of life in and of itself.
C, in that statement don't you mean immortal? Mortal is the state we embrace now, the fact that we can and will die.

I stopped fearing death years ago, mainly because there's nothing I can do about it. And it will be as it was before I was born i.e. I knew nothing then and will know nothing after death.
(08-29-2020, 04:49 PM)MamaFrankie Wrote: [ -> ]C, in that statement don't you mean immortal? Mortal is the state we embrace now, the fact that we can and will die.

Indeed I did, well spotted. I'll edit my post now :) .
Well I have my own deep thoughts on this subject because of my personal experience and I will give some background on it first, so it is easier to understand:

If anyone has ever asked themselves what the scar is on my chest when you see it in my horrible selfies I post in the "Pictures of you" thread, it is because I was born with a very complex congenital heart defect. I had three open heart surgeries, the last one being when I was five years old. After I was born my face turned purple and I had lost a lot of oxygen to my brain. Anyway, my father had said that it would have been better if I had died and the cardiologists gave me a death sentence right when I was born because they said I wouldn't live past 30 years old. I'm 25 now. So according to them, I only have five more years of my life to live. At the beginning of this year, I had to go get some usual check-ups on my heart in the hospital. I had a cardiac catheterization (if you don't know what it is, look it up because it's too difficult for me to explain), an MRI and I had to have four tubes of blood taken from me. I was all jacked up on the crap they put into me and it took my body over a couple weeks to finally get it out of me. Anyway, while I was in recovery and waking up from my anesthesia, the doctor that performed my cardiac catheterization told my family that I was entering the very early stages of heart failure. This had come as a shock to everyone except Tim because he knew that it was eventually going to happen, but he was still sad nonetheless. 

After I found this out, the first thing I told Tim to do was to tell @ Kyng. I felt like my whole life was coming to an end soon. I thought I was going to die. I asked CJ what his plan would be if I died. Although to be honest, I lived my whole life as a kid/teenager like it was my last day on earth even if sometimes I took life for granted. Ever since the day I could fathom my medical condition, I lived like that. I was scared. I wish I hadn't had been born and I thought I was cursed from the day I was born. I wished I could have done things other kids could do like play sports, run around, do things without getting out of breath. It really dampened my view on life and I think that is why sometimes I come off as bitter. It wasn't fair and I still think it isn't. But I realize that life is a gift... you are only here for so long and it shouldn't ever be taken for granted. 

I came home after those tests and I laid in the bath crying and feeling miserable. I was afraid. What would happen to my family? I didn't want to leave. I didn't want Tim and CJ to be alone, I didn't want my family to have to deal with the loss of me. I will admit I am still afraid. I guess when my final days are around the corner, my opinion will change. If Tim dies before me, I probably will go soon after him because I would die of a broken heart. I know that sounds pretty grim, but he is my other half and he makes me one person. However, my attitude has changed since then. I'm not afraid right now. I plan to live a regular human life span and I don't think I am going to drop dead the next day like I did when I was a kid. 

So to make a long story short, it pains me to think how miserable the people who are close to me and know me would feel.
Yeah, that must have been a horrible way to live - especially with that nasty thing your father said -_- .

Obviously, I hope you do go on to live a regular human life span. You're already close to beating your doctors' original prediction of 30 years - and I'm sure you have the strength to go beyond that, especially now that you've found your place in the world :) . Still, even a regular human life span isn't particularly long - as I'm sure we'll all find out eventually :( . Best to make the most of it while you can.

The whole "dying of a broken heart" thing is pretty sad, and it's one of those things I prefer not to think about it. Still, I guess it's something that 50% of us will have to deal with at some point (or, at least, 50% of the people who get married and stay married for life). Obviously, it's very difficult for everyone (and it was certainly very difficult for that philosopher when he found himself in that situation) - but, it sounds as though he handled it as well as could be expected. I just hope that, if I ever leave a widow in that situation, then she won't be completely lost without me :( .
(09-14-2020, 08:30 PM)Kyng Wrote: [ -> ]The whole "dying of a broken heart" thing is pretty sad, and it's one of those things I prefer not to think about it. Still, I guess it's something that 50% of us will have to deal with at some point (or, at least, 50% of the people who get married and stay married for life). Obviously, it's very difficult for everyone (and it was certainly very difficult for that philosopher when he found himself in that situation) - but, it sounds as though he handled it as well as could be expected. I just hope that, if I ever leave a widow in that situation, then she won't be completely lost without me :( .

I only say that because I honestly would be lost without Tim. I was before him while I was in the horrid relationship with my ex and then before that. I feel like my whole life has been me trying to find everything he is. I mean, I wouldn't go right off the bat. I guess what I am trying to say is that I would be severely depressed and I would just lay in bed and cry. I know he wouldn't want that so I would at least try to grasp something that would help me but once I got older I would hope I'd go sooner rather than later. If that makes any sense. I have heard of a widow dying a few months after her husband did and it just shows that when you fill the space for your other half, the world comes crashing down on you.

Also, you know I am a stubborn little thing so I won't be going anywhere. The same doctor said it was actually surprising I made it this far with the way my heart is because he says some people would have already needed a heart transplant. ;) So, unfortunately for you I will be annoying the crap out of you for the rest of your life. :wub: