Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Can metaphysics yield the consolations of philosophy? One possibility, defended by Derek Parfit, is that reflection on the nature of identity and time could diminish both fear of death and grief. In this paper, I assess the prospect of such consolation, focussing especially on attempts to console a grieving third party. A shift to a reductionist view of personal identity might mean that death is less threatening. However, there is some evidence to suggest that such a shift does not necessarily translate into less death anxiety. Moreover, applied to grief at loss of another, such a perspective may be misdirected. A temporally neutral perspective offers a theoretically powerful way of reducing the sense of loss at being separated in time from a loved one. However, it is unclear whether it is psychologically possible to achieve. Even if it were possible, it may not diminish the pain of separation. I identify a serious challenge to philosophical consolation for grief. The greater the consolation that is offered, the greater the risk of losing important attachments and the less it may be psychologically accessible.


Journal article




Cambridge University Press

Publication Date