On Tuesday, February 12, Simon Crichtley will be giving a free lecture in Troy, NY at the EMPAC at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Crichtley is widely regarded for his work in continental philosophy, ranging from religion to politics. His philosophy tends towards existential ethics, a topic covered in Episode 4 and Episode 63, also a possible topic in the upcoming Buber episode. Crichtley’s discussion on Tuesday is centered around death, entitled “Philosophy and the Art of Dying.” A recent interview in Chronogram provides an interesting idea of what people can expect on Tuesday.
In the interview Crichtley states, “Philosophy’s an odd subject, because it begins with a death—the death of Socrates. Socrates is often considered to be the first philosopher, and was condemned by the city of Athens, given the choice of exile or death. He chose to die. Plato devoted four texts to the trial and execution of Socrates, and in the last one of those, which is called the Phaedo, he talks about the philosopher as the one who prepares for death, who is not scared of death—of philosophy as an art of dying. It allows us to go to our death with a certain equanimity and tranquility.” This leads one to conclude that all philosophy is a way to transcend the social stigma of fear of death. Revealing an historical argument, the interview offers new light on an ancient topic, one which will further be discussed on Tuesday. Does the philosopher have a better grasp on life itself? Maybe philosophers are really just trying to transcend death, becoming immortal through infamy.
It is no secret that mankind has always been intrigued and petrified by mortality. We have always tried to find a way to transcend and transgress into a state of immortality. Have the philosophies of the past, namely existentialism, prepared us for a peaceful death? Is all philosophy only another way to understand death? Hopefully Crichtley will further debate these issues on Tuesday. Read the interview here.