What Is a Completed Life?
François Galichet is a philosopher. A graduate of the École normale supérieure, with a Ph.D. in philosophy, he is emeritus professor at the Université de Strasbourg.
When can we say that our life is completed? Does completed mean that there is no other prospect than to end it, that we can wish for its end, and even bring it about? Must we consider life as an absolute good and preserve it out of principle, no matter what happens, and at all costs? Might we rather envision it, like a painter or writer, as a work that is completed when we consider it done, placing a signature or a final period on it?
Galichet’s book is a meditation on this analogy. Can we see art as a paradigm for life? What can we learn, for example, from the examples of writers who have ended their lives? Is voluntary death necessarily an evil or a misfortune? What are the ethical implications of the choice to die, when it is made freely and not influenced by pathological or depressive conditions? To want to avoid the indignities of suffering or old age, is that condemnable, and if so, why?
The author presents the examples of people who have had the means to die voluntarily in a peaceful manner, and questions them about their conceptions of dignity and of the worth of a life. By examining the value we attribute to life, and the definition of a life worth living, he invites us tactfully to reflect on death and on the exercise of freedom.