Letters on Life and Death
Frédéric Worms is a philosopher and professor of contemporary philosophy at the French École normale supérieure. He is notably the author of Les maladies chroniques de la démocratie (2017); Penser à quelqu’un (2014); Revivre. Éprouver nos blessures et nos ressources (2012- winner of the Prix lycéen du livre de philosophie, 2016); La Philosophie en France au XXe siècle. Moments (2009).
“Are we truly aware of the magnitude of the revolution we are experiencing today?
For the first time in history, science and the irreversible changes that are occurring in the environment, are making us understand that we are completely living beings, and mortal. Which leads to the first concern: avoiding death, catastrophe. But also to a second concern, because we can’t be content with just the first. There are other mortal dangers, between human beings, moral, social, and political dangers. We sense that they are also part of the lives of living human beings! We don’t want to give in to them!
And so, we need a new philosophy of life and death. A philosophy according to which notions of life and death include everything that makes life “livable,” survival but also human relationships. One must be careful, in the name of life, not to “lose reasons to live.” Injustice, civil violations, prove to be just as deadly as the increasingly extreme weather in climate change.
And the concrete task of bioethics and global policies today is to reconcile all these vital aspects of human life.
This reflection takes a form that corresponds to its substance: the book is addressed to worried and living human beings today, and more specifically, to a friend. It is a form of correspondence. It could not have been written any other way. Today, it is the very criterion for thought.
This book is addressed to you, to our common worries, today.” F. W.