Facing Death, Facing Oneself

An Exploration on Living (First Edition)
Francis D. Degnin
©2020, 394 pages

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    Facing Death, Facing Ourselves: An Exploration on Living explores what different traditions, mythologies, religions, and academic disciplines have to suggest about what facing death teaches us about living and ourselves. The text employs scholarly depth, breadth, and rigor to explore ethical and human questions as well as philosophic concepts pertaining to life, death, and dying.

    In Section I, readers are introduced to the themes of the book and, in particular, to how the process of coming to honestly know oneself is critical to one’s personal attitudes toward death, dying, and happiness. Section II examines grief and physical death through discussion of works and theories by Tolstoy, Kramer, and Scarry, as well as the topics of anger, depression, suicide, and forgiveness. In Section III, readers explore the concepts of faith, religion, and spirituality in relation to death through diverse, global media. The final section, utilizing the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, explores how the capacity to love is essential to a rich and meaningful life. The text features real-life stories, viewing guides to engaging films, and an interactive grief exercise to enrich the learning experience.

    Facing Death, Facing Ourselves is an ideal resource for courses on death and dying, psychology, philosophy, and theology.
    The Second Edition will be published Spring 2023.

    Francis D. Degnin is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches courses in biomedical ethics, perspectives on death and dying, and philosophy. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in philosophy from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in philosophy from Villanova University, and a master’s in pastoral ministry from Seattle University. No stranger to illness or death, Dr. Degnin serves as both an ethics consultant and a night chaplain for local hospitals. His research and teaching interests include medical and clinical ethics, humanities, death and dying, continental philosophy, phenomenology, and social and political philosophy.
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    “Professor Degnin has provided us far more than a textbook. He asserts that his complex book is not, alone, a textbook for a course on ‘Death and Dying.’ (There are more topics to be covered in such a course.) Nonetheless, his book is in itself a profound reflection upon death and dying presented by a master teacher that makes for compelling reading and certainly presents a teacher an estimable text for any such course. The reader who cares to work through the book, and who approaches at least a few of the readings and films that Professor Degnin draws upon and eloquently discusses, and who listens to this teacher’s voice as it has been warmly captured on the page, will have tackled many of the core arguments and texts fitting for an honors course on ‘Death and Dying.’ In short, Professor Degnin has provided us far more than a book. He has given us knowledge gained from his years teaching ‘Death and Dying’ as well as wisdom from his own thought and experience as a philosopher, hospital chaplain, and one who has himself suffered the dying and death of friends and relatives. He shares his knowledge and experience through moving stories, poignant experiences, and finely articulated arguments. Degnin calls upon authorities both Eastern and Western. He discusses approachably and in effective detail, philosophers in the European tradition, such as Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas, novelists such as Tolstoy, and the Eastern religious traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. The whole is masterful scholarship, captivating discussion, and personal wisdom delivered with warmth and clarity.”
    William Clohesy, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus), University of Northern Iowa