Search-icon

Mortalism

Readings on the Meaning of Life

By

Paperback published by Prometheus Books (Prometheus Books)

have you read it? rate it!
Histogram_reset_icon
ADD TO MY SHELF
About This Book
The inevitability and finality of death have prompted some of the world’s most poignant and memorable literature, from the Epic of Gilgamesh of ancient Babylon to the works of contemporary poets and novelists. The conviction that death means everlasting extinction, with no possibility of an afterlife, is described by Peter Heinegg as "mortalism." In this unique anthology he has collected more than fifty selections of poetry and prose that reflect this view.

Contrary to what one might expect, mortalism does not invariably lead to pessimism, despair, or the sense that life is absurd. Although such sentiments are found in some of the quoted passages, many others give one the opposite impression: since life is brief and terribly finite, it should be treasured and celebrated for all its pleasures and rich experiences. Also noteworthy is the fact that the mortalist point of view is not necessarily confined to unbelievers. Heinegg presents quotations from Job, Ecclesiastes, the Venerable Bede, Blaise Pascal, and Søren Kierkegaard, as well as from such unbelievers as Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud.

Heinegg calls mortalism the great open secret of our culture—open because the arguments in its favor are clear, powerful, and perfectly accessible, and a secret because acknowledging it has been seen either as impious or as simply too depressing to discuss. In perusing this intriguing volume the reader will find that mortalism was the viewpoint shared by many of the most profound and creative minds in history.
Show less
The inevitability and finality of death have prompted some of the world’s most poignant and memorable literature, from the Epic of Gilgamesh of ancient Babylon to the works of contemporary poets and novelists. The conviction that death means everlasting extinction, with no possibility of an afterlife, is described by Peter Heinegg as "mortalism." In this unique anthology he has collected more than fifty selections of poetry and prose that reflect this view.

Contrary to what one might expect, mortalism does not invariably lead to pessimism, despair, or the sense that life is absurd. Although such sentiments are found in some of the quoted passages, many others give one the opposite impression: since life is brief and terribly finite, it should be treasured and celebrated for all its pleasures and rich experiences. Also noteworthy is the fact that the mortalist point of view is not necessarily confined to unbelievers. Heinegg presents quotations from Job, Ecclesiastes, the Venerable Bede, Blaise Pascal, and Søren Kierkegaard, as well as from such unbelievers as Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud.

Heinegg calls mortalism the great open secret of our culture—open because the arguments in its favor are clear, powerful, and perfectly accessible, and a secret because acknowledging it has been seen either as impious or as simply too depressing to discuss. In perusing this intriguing volume the reader will find that mortalism was the viewpoint shared by many of the most profound and creative minds in history.
Product Details
Paperback (213 pages)
Published: May 1, 2003
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Imprint: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 9781591020424
Other books byPeter Heinegg
  • God

    God
    An Obituary
    This book is a satirical-analytical view of monotheism in our time. Building on the work of both the great traditional unbelievers - Hume, Mill, Nietzsche, and Freud, among others -and contemporary critics - Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Ibn Warraq, etc. - Heinegg exposes the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

    Mary, Mother of God

    Mary, Mother of God
    Her Life in Icons and Scripture
    Rare and precious Oriental icons, some created in mosaics, are arranged to tell the story of Mary. The accompanying text offers comments and explanations of the images and their symbols. A life of Mary as presented in the writings of the great fathers of the Orthodox Church and in the liturgical rites of the Byzantine traditions is also included. Its visual impact and beauty, as well as its different perspective, makes Mary, Mother of God: Her Life in Icons and Scripture both a treasured addition to one's personal library and a lovely gift idea. The explanation of the symbolism of the icons and the lovely images themselves will serve as inspiration for meditation.

    Visible Here and Now

    Visible Here and Now
    The Buddhist Teachings on the Rewards of...
    This practical commentary on one of the most important scriptures of the Pali canon will provide essential sustenance for Buddhist practitioners. Ayya Khema is a mountain of strength, encouragement, and tough love as she pours out down-to-earth practical instruction on the journey to enlightenment, following the framework set forth in the Samannaphala-sutta, the Buddha's discourse on the rewards of spiritual life. The sutta—included here in the translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi—contains the Buddha's teachings in response to questions posed by King Ajatasattu. Why, the king asked, should we give up the satisfactions of worldly life and devote ourselves to meditation? What are the tangible benefits to be gained from following the Buddha's way? In answering this question, the Buddha provides a compact synopsis of the entirety of the spiritual path, and Ayya Khema expands on this with her characteristic approach—simple, direct, experiential, and loving. An important aspect of the sutta is an account of the eight meditative absorptions, or jhanas—states of mind that bring joy, serenity, and peace and that open the way to clarity and liberation. Ayya Khema, who was herself adept at the eight absorptions, confidently leads the reader to, through, and beyond the jhanas, following the Buddha's plan. Her words have the effect of inspiring us to roll up our sleeves and get to work so that we may grasp the insights, accomplish the meditative goals, and become enlightened to the highest extent of our talents and efforts.

    Life to the Limits

    Life to the Limits
    From Everyday Losses to New Possibilities
    For those who are discouraged or disillusioned, who have lost hope & trust in life, Remi Parent has written a companionable book that helps bring meaning to everyday losses & limitations. The author points out that we must understand an essential law of existence: the "yes" of our decisions always involves a "no," a renunciation. These renunciations - or deaths - occur daily, & we must often say "no" to one thing in order to say "yes" to something better. Whether these losses are experienced through sickness, a failed love, rejection, a sense of abandonment, or ultimate physical death, Parent holds forth the example of Jesus & his own faith in God as a way to become our true selves - indeed to decide to become other than what we have been. And "that knowledge," he writes, "is the key without which one cannot understand what it is to live." In language that is affirming, authentic, & always straightforward, Life to the Limits is a book that rekindles one's faith that living is meaningful, even if it is limited, & that it requires only what is humanly possible in the moment.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
Quote Cannot be Empty

Submitted quotes are usually posted within 48 hours

ThanksYour Quote Will be posted Shortly
Bookish