Imagining the end: Mourning and ethical life: By Jonathan Lear, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2022. ISBN 978-0-674-27259-0

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'Imagining the End' is a brief book with an ambitious agenda, promising to shed light on questions concerning (among other matters) the ethical significance of potential global catastrophe, the healthy and unhealthy uses of imagination, the vulnerability of cultures, and the roles of mourning and gratitude in human affairs. It contains versions of four of Jonathan Lear's previously published articles, alongside three new chapters. The seven chapters are thematically wide-ranging, but they are loosely unified by an interest in defending mourning as noble and “wondrous” (p. 17). In mourning, Lear proposes, we are not simply acknowledging that someone (or something) that mattered to us is no more. Our participation in the rituals of mourning can also serve to reorient us after disorienting losses. When we mourn, we exhibit an “openness to being a beneficiary via activities of imagination and memory, receptiveness, and acknowledgement.” (p. 143) A beneficiary of what, exactly? The goodness embodied and exemplified in what is no more. For Lear, mourning thus fosters gratitude, directed less at particular realities than as a “basic attunement” to the world and the love and goodness it contains. Mourning can thereby act as a tool for meaning making (pp. 141–142).
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Philosophy
Early online date16 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Aug 2023

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