A talk by Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College
“…it is our knowledge that we have to die that makes us human.”
Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp
Humans manage the terror of death by embracing beliefs that provide a sense that one is a person of value in a world of meaning, and thus eligible for literal or symbolic immortality. The quest for immortality underlies some of humankind’s most noble achievements.
It also, however, engenders some of our most ignominious affectations, including: hostility toward people with different beliefs; attraction to demagogues; contempt for the natural environment; and, the mindless pursuit of material possessions – which, if unchecked, may render humans the first form of life responsible for their own extinction.