The Evening of Life
The Challenges of Aging and Dying Well
214 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268108021 | September 2020
Hardcover | 9780268108014 | September 2020
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268108045 | September 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268108038 | September 2020
Although philosophy, religion, and civic cultures used to help people prepare for aging and dying well, this is no longer the case. Today, aging is frequently seen as a problem to be solved and death as a harsh reality to be masked. In part, our cultural confusion is rooted in an inadequate conception of the human person, which is based on a notion of absolute individual autonomy that cannot but fail in the face of the dependency that comes with aging and decline at the end of life. To help correct the ethical impoverishment at the root of our contemporary social confusion, The Evening of Life provides an interdisciplinary examination of the challenges of aging and dying well. It calls for a re-envisioning of cultural concepts, practices, and virtues that embraces decline, dependency, and finitude rather than stigmatizes them. Bringing together the work of sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians, and medical practitioners, this collection of essays develops an interrelated set of conceptual tools to discuss the current challenges posed to aging and dying well, such as flourishing, temporality, narrative, and friendship. Above all, it proposes a positive understanding of thriving in old age that is rooted in our shared vulnerability as human beings. It also suggests how some of these tools and concepts can be deployed to create a medical system that better responds to our contemporary needs. The Evening of Life will interest bioethicists, medical practitioners, clinicians, and others involved in the care of the aging and dying.
Contributors: Joseph E. Davis, Sharon R. Kaufman, Paul Scherz, Wilfred M. McClay, Kevin Aho, Charles Guignon, Bryan S. Turner, Janelle S. Taylor, Sarah L. Szanton, Janiece Taylor, and Justin Mutter
Joseph E. Davis is research professor of sociology at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He is the author, most recently, of Chemically Imbalanced: Everyday Suffering, Medication, and Our Troubled Quest for Self-Mastery.
Paul Scherz is associate professor of moral theology and ethics at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of Science and Christian Ethics.
“In this important and provocative book, the editors and authors make a compelling case for a much needed ‘ethics of aging’ that holistically addresses the unique character of the aging process and its role in defining a ‘good life.’” —Daniel B. Hinshaw, MD, author of Touch and the Healing of the World
“Old age is presented as a question, asked from diverse perspectives. As readers view old age as a construction of medical policies, a philosophical puzzle, and a network of altruistic friends, they will be drawn in to ask what to call this period of life, how to respond to it, and ultimately how to live it.” —Arthur W. Frank, author of The Wounded Storyteller
"Insights from The Evening of Life are both comforting and illuminating in discussions regarding the present and future of aging and the end of life." —Hastings Center Report
"According to St. Paul, we will receive a transformed body that will make up for the current one's deficiencies, which are likely to be many if we have been fortunate enough to reach the old age whose gifts and challenges these authors so intelligently and sensitively explore." —Studies in Christian Ethics