- uploaded: Jan 26, 2013
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Ian Punnett welcomed authors Tom Cathcart and Daniel Klein for a conversation about the varying philosophical points of view regarding mortality as well as how humor allows us to express our fears about death. "We tell jokes about it to relieve the anxiety," Klein said of the duo's propensity for death-related humor. He explained that this style is contrary to some classic philosophers, who espouse the idea that "you have to face your mortality straight in the face, otherwise you won't realize the glory of life." Supporting this lighthearted perspective, Klein said that, when he considers the daunting finality of death, he "needs to tell a joke." In discussing the various philosophical perspectives on mortality, Cathcart noted the musings of Arthur Schopenhauer, who "thought you should be indifferent to death." According to this point of view, the indifference would, in turn, alleviate anxieties about dying. However, Cathcart also noted the work of philosopher Ernest Becker who observed that much of the constructs of civilization, such as religion and nationality, are based upon this anxiety about death. On where such philosophical thought is heading today, Cathcart lamented that contemporary philosophy has gotten very technical, focusing on "the meaning of meaning rather than the meaning of life." The pair also addressed the philosophical debate over the pros and cons of immortality. Cathcart pointed out that one prevalent point of view, amongst philosophers, is that ...