“What Is the Point of It All?”

“What is the point of it all?” asks 97-year old philosopher Herbert Fingarette (1921 – 2018), long retired from the University of California, Santa Barbara, just a few short months before his death from natural causes late last year.

In this short (18 minutes or so), expertly produced video, Fingarette ponders this question, the loss of his ability to do the things he was accustomed to being able to do for himself, the sorrow he still feels at the loss of his wife a few years back (you are likely to shed a few tears yourself between the video’s 12 and 13 minute marks), but above all, the acute discomfort he now feels at the prospects of his life’s end.

Fingarette wrote a book on the subject of death: Death: Philosophical Soundings (1999). His conclusions back then echoed those of Epicurus’s well known, “Death is nothing to us.” By last year, he realized that abstract ponderings about mortality based on a philosophical system are one thing; the impending event is quite another.

Sadly, he appears never to have questioned materialism as a worldview and an outlook on life. His thought seems not to have advanced to that level. As the end of his life rapidly approached, he came to realize that death as an event was the one conundrum his philosophical investigations had not prepared him to face.

At age 97.

[Note to readers: Parts 4 and 5 of “Materialism” are coming. Please be patient. SY.]

About Steven Yates

I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia and teach Critical Thinking (mostly in English) at Universidad Nacionale Andrés Bello in Santiago, Chile. I moved here in 2012 from South Carolina. My most recent book is entitled Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (2011). I am the author of an earlier book, around two dozen articles & reviews, & still more articles on commentary sites on the Web. I live in Santiago with my wife Gisela & two spoiled cats, Bo & Princesa.
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