Akadeemia 7:1301−1312 (2019)
AbstractThe concept of perversion has traditionally been applied particularly to the sexual sphere, in order to condemn certain desires and certain practices as wrong or inappropriate because of their unnaturalness, as they are understood as a deviation from a given function of sexuality. In this article, I explore the question whether and how such a concept could be applied to another central dimension of our existence, namely our death and, in particular, whether it makes sense to talk of perverted attitudes towards (our own) death. In the first section I present a fairly common account of what is a perverted attitude towards sex and explain how that account can be used to define a perverted attitude towards death. I come up with four suggestions (one based on belief in the afterlife and three secular ones, based respectively on the notion of death as meaningless, on Heidegger’s concept of authenticity and on the evolutionary function of death). In the second section, I explore potential connections between perversion in sex and perversion in death. I conclude that, outside the Catholic worldview, perverted attitudes to sex do not bring along perverted attitudes towards death, nor is there a connection the other way around. In fact, certain kinds of perverted attitudes towards death are even inimical to sexual perversion. In the third section, I present a metaphysical and an ethical reason to doubt that we can and should talk of a function of death or sex.
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