Kevin Aho
Florida Gulf Coast University
In Being and Time, Martin Heidegger introduces a unique interpretation of death as a kind of world-collapse or breakdown of meaning that strips away our ability to understand and make sense of who we are. This is an ‘ontological death’ in the sense that we cannot be anything because the intelligible world that we draw on to fashion our identities and sustain our sense of self has lost all significance. On this account, death is not only an event that we can physiologically live through; it can happen numerous times throughout the finite span of our lives. This paper draws on Arthur Frank’s narrative of critical illness to concretize the experience of ‘ontological death’ and illuminate the unique challenges it poses for health care professionals. I turn to Heidegger’s conception of ‘resoluteness’ to address these challenges, arguing for the need of health care professionals to help establish a discursive context whereby the critically ill can begin to meaningfully express and interpret their experience of self-loss in a way that acknowledges the structural vulnerability of their own identities and is flexible enough to let go of those that have lost their significance or viability.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-015-9639-4
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References found in this work BETA

Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology.Maurice Natanson - 1957 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 18 (3):404-405.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Defense of the Phenomenological Account of Health and Illness.Fredrik Svenaeus - 2019 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 44 (4):459-478.
Temporal Experience in Anxiety: Embodiment, Selfhood, and the Collapse of Meaning.Kevin Aho - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (2):259-270.
To Die Well: The Phenomenology of Suffering and End of Life Ethics.Fredrik Svenaeus - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (3):335-342.

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