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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  507 ratings  ·  87 reviews
The fact that we will die, and that our death can come at any time, pervades the entirety of our living. There are many ways to think about and deal with death. Among those ways, however, a good number of them are attempts to escape its grip. In this book, Todd May seeks to confront death in its power. He considers the possibility that our mortal deaths are the end of us, ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 18th 2009 by McGill-Queen's University Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Death, Todd May

Death (2008). Acumen Publishing.

In this book, Todd May seeks to confront death in its power. He considers the possibility that our mortal deaths are the end of us, and asks what this might mean for our living.

What lessons can we draw from our mortality? And how might we live as creatures who die, and who know we are going to die?

Contents: 1 - Our dealings with death, 2 - Death and immortality, 3 - Living with death.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه می سال 2
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I'll be honest, I picked up and started reading Todd May's "Death" because it was mentioned on "The Good Place." And when in the first few pages May states that "Death is the most important fact about us" I was intrigued and excited. Thinking about death, and how it affects our lives, has been an ongoing preoccupation of mine. I wanted so much from this short book yet ultimately found myself disappointed by it. And that disappointment occurred even though I agree with most of May's main points.

Jan 26, 2019 marked it as to-read
Chidi: He's having an existential crisis. It's a sort of anguish people go through when they contemplate the silent indifference of our empty universe. Look, the good news is, if he can work through this, it's the first step towards understanding human ethics.


Chidi: Well, now that you've become acquainted with existential crises, I thought we could read "Death" by philosopher Todd May.

Eleanor: Sounds like the perfect beach read.

And that's the sophisticated story of how I got acquainted with
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
An accessible set of philosophical reflections on the meaning of death and whether or not it would be preferable to be immortal - with all the unforeseen and unthought-through consequences that would attend that state. His contention is that the contingency that in some way undermines the meaning of our lives since there is no right time to die if we remain engaged with projects of any sort also gives these same projects an urgency and vitality they would lack if we were immortal and could alway ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Megan by: The Good Place
The first chapter is a lot of stage-setting that mostly recaps background of existential thought. It can be summed up in like one or two really iconic sentences from Camus or Sartre, but I suppose for the layperson who has never read either (and probably never will) it's a good read. It's the best part of the book in my opinion because the arguments that follow mostly rehash statements made and questions posed here but never resolve or answer them.

The second part is a deep dive into a contrapos
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Small, but well-organized, lucid, and concrete. I would read a few pages every evening, then think about what I had read the next day.

I have two problems with his arguments, one minor, one major.

The minor disagreement I have is the same one others have expressed: there's no reason to think that being immortal would make you care less for the suffering and well-being of others, regardless of whether they were also immortal or not. Prometheus is condemned to have his liver eaten by an eagle every
Kyle van Oosterum
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at perhaps the most important fact about ourselves, i.e.: our death. Drawing on various sources - Heidegger, Aurelius, Lucretius, Borges and some forms of religious thought - May arrives at the familiar conclusion that while death is some form of evil, immortality would likely not be a good either (this all assumes that you don’t survive your death).

For my part, what I learnt was that the source of my worries about death are inevitably influenced by the way I perceive death,
Brett Welch
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Finding Meaning in Life by pondering Death

This book is a deep and careful meditation on how the fragility of life affects us. What makes this book unique, is that it takes ideas from philosophy (such as Martin Heidegger, Thomas Nagel, and Lucretius) and from religion (such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism), and interweaves them in meaningful ways that anyone can understand and pull meaning from. What May does in this book is present a wonderful - and sometimes personal - journey through som
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Taoism - we are waves cresting out upon the ocean. When we die we return back to the water. Our self is an illusion, only to return back to the source of all life upon death. No judgments, only the differential movements of already existing energies.... yes. I agree.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Death is inevitable, uncertain, arbitrary, and its occurrence lends no special meaning to the life that precedes it. Can we then say that death is meaningless? What of the life that precedes it? Does death add to or take away from the meaning of life? Would immortality or the cure to death solve the problems that death presents? These are some of questions the book ponders on.

Todd May has drawn on works from many religions and philosophers to present a compelling and thought-provoking account o
Jul 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
I was not super impressed with May's A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe and I was even more disappointed with this one. He largely rehashes the same exact arguments. This is disappointing for two reasons. One, why bother with two books that cover such similar ground? Two, the arguments are so weak with so many (to me) obvious was there no improvement in the argument or defense of those holes in the several years between the two books?

Before going into a tedious li
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan Mishap
The first book I've read that was recommended by a television sitcom (The Good Place), I didn't get much out of it. Part 1 explores the inevitability of death as the most important fact about our lives. Part 2 discusses the limits of immortality and Part 3 examines how to live within the fragility of life with an awareness of death. ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The discussion of immortality in chapter two is definitely worthwhile, the rest not so much.
Dec 14, 2018 marked it as to-read
From The Good Place youtube video

The author is a philosophy advisor for the show, and this book was a big influence on creator Mike Schur.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
It is refreshing to hear death described in such a matter of fact way:

- Death is the end
- Death is not a part of life or a fulfilment or a goal. It's simply a stoppage.
- Death is inevitable (everyone dies)
- Death is uncertain (we don't know when we are going to die).

Chapter 1 delves into each of these ideas at length (at great length). They should teach this in schools. It's remarkable that they don't.

On the first idea (that death is the end), the author surveys the many ways that religions try
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had, up until this book, regarded death as a topic to be largely avoided. That is, I acknowledged that it was an immutable part of life but didn't see many benefits to thinking about it. The exception to this was the odd quote about 'having only so many days left to live' and 'seizing every day as if it were your last' or some such.

This book has provided me with not only a reason to think about my death, but also a framework within which to do it.

Book review begins here:
A short and very acce
Abdullah Shams
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nicely put.

Three sections, beautifully arranged.

My fear of death is something not yet concrable by my imagination, even though it is put forward by my imagination. I fear of not able to imagine and not able to see the last thing and the last thought(more so about the last thought) that would exist for sure of which I will be certain about beyond any doubt. I fear of an incomprehensible last thought that is unfinished and not reflected upon. I fear of not locking the door on curtanity before I c
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Feel like this book could have half of its content cut down and it will still be the decent read it is, perhaps even better. A lot of it's just repeating previously discussed points, which one can argue is for ensuring clarity and retention and is such the nature of philosophizing, but it ends up feeling a lot like meandering and unnecessary content. However, for what it attempts to do--to wax poetic about death and how we can better live our lives--it's a good conversation starter. You'll find ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first book I've actually read about death and I found it truly amazing. Through this book you are presented with the sadness but also with the beauty and necessity of death. This books is split in a few parts with a focus on a specific point, whereas my favourite parts were about how everything would be if we were to be immortal and the last part where he talks about living with death despite it's constant presence in our life. As I said, it is sad and yet it is beautiful. I highly suggest t ...more
Kryštof Selucký
“Death is the ultimate source of both the tragedy and the beauty of a human life. Moreover, death’s tragedy is the source of life’s beauty and vice versa.”

What is death? Is it good or bad? How does it relate to life? And should we want to be immortal? May offers a philosophical discussion of death that is thought-provoking, thorough, non-preachy, gentle and uncompromising. And what's more, it reads like a Stephen King's novel.

As far as 100-page-long philosophy books go, this is one of the best o
Will E
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
As someone who has thought a lot about death (who hasn't?), I found some of this not particularly revalatory. I think we know it as humans somewhat intuitively. But the book articulates its point in such an organized, straightforward way that I certainly feel I left it having learned something. If nothing else, a certain clarity of thought that will help face these issues with slightly less despair (hopefully!!!). Maybe I'll read more philosophy???

On a side note, it makes a lot of sense Chidi w
Cary Trusty
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my biggest anxieties in life has the emptiness that comes with death. Not knowing what it's like to feel absolute blankness. I heard the book mentioned in an episode of The Good Place and once I looked it up, I was thrilled. The book gave me a lot to think about and will likely go over it a few more times. Thanks for the great read! ...more
Samantha Evans
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting discussion on how death shapes (or doesn’t shape) life and how to live within the knowledge that our lives will come to an end (usually in an unexpected way). May addresses death both with and without religious influence and ideas of afterlife.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read it because of The Good Place.

It was OK, maybe a bit repetitive. Concept is death gives life meaning. Anything in an immortal life would have no meaning because you have forever to change what you've done. Basically a simple idea explained from a view different angles.

May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is amazing, it portrays the philosophical insights of Heidegger and other philosphers while the author is recollecting a near death experience. It combines everyday experience and confrontations with death with scientific discourses and makes it thus a really great read!
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"the task for us, for each of us in the face of each of our deaths, is to live towards our end and with our end in a way, or in several ways, that casts a light within that darkness that ultimately engulfs us" ...more
Georgina Lara
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very important book for me to read. There are no conclusions here that you haven't heard before but it's more about the process of finding (and internalizing) those conclusions. ...more
Wenshuai Hou
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
The first chapter is good and promising, because it’s mostly recounts of Heidegger.
Goes downhill when he starts to argue immortality is an evil.
Ends with repetitive chicken soup.
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Todd has been teaching at Clemson for nearly thirty years. For many of those years his area of specialization in philosophy was recent French thought, especially that of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. More recently he has turned his attention to broader life concerns: meaning in life, coping with suffering, acting with moral decency, and so on. He is the author of sixteen books of philosophy. ...more

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“The fact that we die is what makes what we do and who we do it with matter.” 7 likes
“I would like to make a bold claim right here at the outset: the fact that we die is the most important fact about us. There is nothing that has more weight in our lives.” 6 likes
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