Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top ten philosophers' deaths

Simon Critchley is a Professor of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research and the author, most recently, of The Book of Dead Philosophers.

For the Guardian, he listed his top ten philosophers' deaths.

His ambition for the list:
"to show that often the philosopher's greatest work of art is the manner of their death."
One of the two twentieth-century philosophers on the list:
AJ Ayer (1910-1989)

The year before he died, after recovering from pneumonia in University College Hospital in London, Ayer choked on a piece of salmon, lost consciousness and technically died. His heart stopped for four minutes until he was revived. A day later, he had recovered and was talking happily about what had taken place during his death. He saw a bright red light which was apparently in charge of the government of the universe. The ministers for space were oddly absent, but Ayer could see the ministers in charge of time in the distance. Ayer then reports that he suddenly recalled Einstein's view that space and time were one and the same and tried to attract the attention of the ministers of time by walking up and down and waving his watch and chain. To no avail, however, and Ayer grew more and more desperate and then regained consciousness. Ayer was shaken by the experience and in an article for the Sunday Telegraph, he suggested that it did provide "rather strong evidence that death does not put an end to consciousness".
Read about the philosopher who died in cow dung.

--Marshal Zeringue