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

Philosophy and Literature 29 (1):114-129 (2005)
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Abstract

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.”

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Amy Olberding
University of Oklahoma

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