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Death Becomes Me: The Development of a Personal Eschatology

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  1. Introduction
  2. The inevitability of death as 'thrownness'
  3. A real life example of momentarily inauthentic living
  4. Examples reinforcing the negative results of fighting against the tidal pull of death
  5. The construction of an individuated eschatology
  6. Albert Camus' presentation of a fictional illustration
  7. The acknowledgement and acceptance of death
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

Though the exact methods by which one might ?die twice? are unclear, the sage wisdom of modern-day philosopher Chris Rock is undeniable: regardless of whom one may be, one will certainly die. Concordantly, according to philosopher Martin Heidegger death is not only an inevitable end, but also an ?ever-present certainty?. ?Beings-toward-death,? as he considers humans, live with the possibility of death every day. However, Heidegger goes on to state that it is this ?ever-present certainty? that gives life its ?existential urgency;? knowledge that an individual will end gives that individual purpose to live now. Heidegger considers this to be ?living in the light of death.?

[...] This is deemed inauthentic existence and, ultimately, causes one to ?flee in the face of death? by explaining death as a general event rather than a personal and existential reality. Through this circumlocution of death, people may find a deceptive solace, though it would be inherently inauthentic. Perhaps one of the most notable examples of such an inauthentic life would be found in Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich. When the title character falls ill, he finds himself preoccupied with the concerns of sickness in general, rather than his personal mortality: ?when sickness, deaths, or recoveries were mentioned in his presence, especially when the illness resembled his own, he listened with agitation and applied what he heard to his own case. [...]

[...] Rather, by incorporating the acceptance of this inevitability into one's life, one can triumph over their Therefore, in contrast to the negative nature of ?fleeing in the face of death,? the positive nature of creating and incorporating a personal eschatology should also be examined. Clayton R. Bowen argues in his article Why Eschatology that, ultimately, the construction of a personal eschatology cannot be ignored ?because it will not leave us alone: it will be heard? (Bowen, 2). Furthermore, despite attempts to marginalize or compartmentalize one's death, he argues that there remains guilty feeling that it belongs far more in the center stage [and] becomes far nearer being the hero of the piece than one of the supernumeraries.? If death is not only something to be recognized, but also may, in fact, be the most decisively epic moment of one's life, it should absolutely be incorporated into one's being long before the final moment comes to pass. [...]

[...] This reluctance to accept death fostered by a prematurely achieved optimism made it that much more difficult when her illness resurfaced with a vengeance, causing incredible amounts of tension that may not have been present were she to have been more accepting of the possibility of her death. Perhaps she and her husband could have discussed the eventuality of her death, seeing as that her cancer was almost definitely going to resurface. However, by obsessing over concerns of her family, she was able to deny her death, which was comfortable for a time. [...]

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