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Philosophical thought is not as pertinent today because we are a culture in denial of our own mortality. Yes, we speak of mindfulness but we don't contemplate our own deaths and how fragile human existence is.

The philosophers I have been featuring of late all lived in a far more disease susceptible world where whooping cough, polio or pneumonia could end a life in short order. Hence, their urgency in matters of mortality and the possible continuity of the soul contained a pertinence that we do not live with today. Kierkegaard, for example, saw most of his siblings die and he himself only lasted until 42 after succumbing to a spinal infection.

Interestingly, I find comfort in contemplating my own end because it brings the savoring of daily life into greater relevance. The idea that every day is precious becomes more real in that reflection process than when we deny.

This past week, a former employee of my firm was found by his spouse lying in the snow with his eyes wide open after succumbing to a massive coronary.

He was only 51 years old.


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