The 4 Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death - Stephen Cave #38

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In this episode of ReWild Yourself! podcast, I have a fascinating conversation with Stephen Cave — author of internationally acclaimed book "Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization" — about death and why we fear it. He elaborates on the "4 stories we tell ourselves about death" from his popular TED talk.

Episode Breakdown:

  • First experiences with death
  • Other species’ relationship to death
  • Immortality projects
  • The “elixir” story
  • The “resurrection” story
  • The “soul” story
  • Science and the immortality quest
  • The “legacy” story
  • How to cope with death denial
  • Stephen’s thoughts on the “zombie apocalypse” heroism over death
  • What it’s like to work in the death field
  • Stephen’s new projects

We’re not really built to cope with the thought of death. Tweet it!

We all live in the shadow of this personal apocalypse, and we’re not built to handle that. Tweet it!

We shouldn’t fear what we literally cannot experience. Tweet it!

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Meet Stephen

Stephen was born in Cornwall, in the beautiful but rainy Southwest of England, back in the days when Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan were topping the charts. 

After a decade studying and teaching philosophy, he was awarded his PhD in metaphysics from the University of Cambridge in 2001. Before dedicating himself to writing, Stephen made ends meet as a diplomat, negotiating international treaties on behalf of Her Majesty. 

Stephen has since written essays, features and reviews on many philosophical, ethical and scientific subjects, from human nature to robot warriors and animal rights. He writes regularly for the Financial Times, and has also written for the New York Times, the Guardian, Wired and others. He has appeared on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, Deutschlandradio Kultur, Österreichischer Rundfunk and elsewhere.

His internationally acclaimed first book, Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, was published in English and other languages in spring 2012. Stephen, who speaks fluent German, lives in Berlin with his wife Friederike von Tiesenhausen and their many daughters. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

A profile of Stephen's life and work was broadcast on DW TV in November 2013 and can be seen here.