~George Burns modified
One of the points where there is a significant, long-lasting intersection of the interests of many philosophers with the interests of many people of all kinds and conditions concerns the nature and significance of death. How should we understand the mortality of all living things and, closer to home, how should we understand our own mortality? Is it possible for persons to survive biological death? This is a topic that has occupied both analytic and continental philosophy in the twentieth century (e.g., Fred Feldman, Martin Heidegger). When the topic of death is ignored or denied in popular culture, some philosophers, theologians, social and political critics rail against the inauthentic complacency of ignoring one of the most important facts about our lives (see, for example, Søren Kierkegaard’s essay “At a Graveside” or Ernest Becker’s famous 1974 book, The Denial of Death). But what precisely are the facts of death? Is it true that a person is annihilated when she dies, or is there a possibility or even a likelihood that she may survive death? Are any of the religious conceptions of an afterlife promising from a philosophical point of view?