Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. William Abshire

Degree Award Date

Spring 1999


Death, meaning, denial, afterlife


Philosophy | Psychology | Religion


The honors project is a compilation of the thoughts of philosophers, theologians, and psychologists on the subject of human demise. The discussion will focus throughout on the meaning of death, the denial of death, and afterlife considerations.

will discuss the early views of what different cultures have had to say in their consideration of death and afterlife. Included are the views of the tribal peoples of North America, the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Hindus. In not limiting myself only to Western thought or Christianity, I am acknowledging that all cultures have philosophies concerning death and afterlife. The variations between cultures are interesting and this examination shows similarities of worldviews on the process of human demise.

Finally, I will present the changing views of death and afterlife as is reflected in the Contemporary period--in the Christian West. I will explore how our present society's views of death and afterlife have developed.

I shall put forth as a thesis the belief that most people have a traditional and a contemporary view of death. The traditional view is often the more dominant of the two. Within the frame of time, pre-historical peoples knew very little about tradition. For them, death was a part of nature--a part of life. As time passed into recorded history, some people developed different views of death as a result of intellectual and philosophical considerations (e.g. the Greeks). These different views became favorable and useful, so they were incorporated into traditions--many of which still remain to the present day.