The recognition of nothingness

Philosophical Studies 177 (9):2585-2603 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

I describe a distinctive kind of fear that is generated by a vivid recognition of one’s mortal nature. I name it ‘existential shock’. This special fear does not take our future annihilation as any kind of harm, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. One puzzling feature of existential shock is that it is experienced as disclosing an important truth, yet attempts to specify this revelatory content bring us back to familiar facts about one’s inevitable death. But how can I discover something that I already knew? I argue that in our everyday lives, we are in the grip of deeply entrenched patterns of thought and feeling that prevent the knowledge of our mortality from being fully assimilated. Rather, we merely ‘pay lip service’ to the facts of our mortality. I propose that existential shock involves a distinctive mode of presentation of oneself as a mortal being, in a way that cuts through subtle layers of denial that govern our lives. I develop this thesis by utilizing and synthesizing ideas from several traditions, including the work of Samuel Scheffler, Mark Johnston, Martin Heidegger, and Jay L. Garfield.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,199

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The expectation of nothingness.James Baillie - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (S1):185-203.
Unmoored: Mortal Harm and Mortal Fear.Kathy Behrendt - 2019 - Philosophical Papers 48 (2):179-209.
Existential Terror.Ben Bradley - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (3-4):409-418.
The Nothingness of the Word in Mallarme.Visser Gerard - 2015 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 77 (2):309-333.
Sartre and Bergson: A disagreement about nothingness.Sarah Richmond - 2007 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (1):77 – 95.
Tragic Error.I. M. Glanville - 1949 - Classical Quarterly 43 (1-2):47-.
Nietzsche's Existential Love and the Crush of Nothingness.Eric Bronson - 1998 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
On being (not quite) dead with Derrida.Bob Plant - 2016 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (3):320-338.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-08-03

Downloads
63 (#190,893)

6 months
8 (#104,991)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

James Baillie
University of Portland

Citations of this work

Naturalistic Entheogenics.Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3.
Replies to Timmerman and Gorman.John Martin Fischer - 2022 - The Journal of Ethics 26 (3):395-414.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
The View from Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 92 (2):280-281.
Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
Death and the Afterlife.Samuel Scheffler - 2013 - New York, NY: Oup Usa.

View all 16 references / Add more references