"The feel of not to feel it": Lucretius' remedy for death anxiety

Philosophy and Literature 29 (1):114-129 (2005)
Do Lucretius’ vivid evocations of pain and suffering render impotent his therapy for fear of death? Lucretius’ readers have long noted the discord between his avowed aim to provide a rational foundation for cool detachment from death and his impassioned and acute attention to nature’s often cruel brutality. I argue that Lucretius does have a viable remedy for death anxiety but that this remedy significantly departs from Epicurus’ original counsel. Lucretius’ remedy confesses its origins in a heightened, rather than benumbed, sensitivity to the affective and somatic features of human experience, culminating in “the feel of not to feel it.”
Keywords Lucretius  Epicureanism  Death
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DOI 10.1353/phl.2005.0010
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