Guest Speaker Will Address Our Fear of Death
Sheldon Solomon, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Skidmore College, will deliver a public talk, titled “The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life.” at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, in Hepburn Auditorium room 218.
Solomon will address a variety of topics concerning how our fear of death haunts us like nothing else. The uniquely human fear of death has a pervasive effect on human beings' thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Humans manage the terror of death by adhering to culturally constructed beliefs about reality that provide a sense that one is a person of value in a world of meaning, and thus eligible for either 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 and disdain for people with different beliefs; attraction to ideological demagogues; indifference to, or 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. Solomon will present an overview of these ideas and empirical work that corroborates them, and then consider the implications of these notions for personal and interpersonal behavior.