Peter J. Adams Book Description



Reflecting on the Inevitable: Mortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy and Health

New York: Oxford University Press, 2020   (244 pages)     ISBN:  9780190945039,   9780190945022


Death studies have, over the last twenty years, witnessed a flourishing of research and scholarship particularly in areas such as dying and bereavement, cultural practices and fear of dying. But, despite its importance, a specific focus on the nature of personal mortality has attracted surprisingly little attention. Reflecting on the Inevitable combines evidence from several disciplinary fields to explore the varying ways each of us engages with the prospect of personal mortality. Chapters are organized around the question of how an ongoing relationship might be possible when the threat of consciousness coming to an end points to an unspeakable nothingness. The book then argues that, despite this threat, an ongoing relationship with one’s own death is still possible by means of conceptual devices, or ‘enabling frames’, that help shape personal mortality into a relatable object.

In each chapter the subtleties and applicability of key ideas are enhanced through a series of illustrative narratives built up around the lives of four people at different ages living in two adjacent houses. Reflecting on the Inevitable is relevant not only to academics of death studies, but also those training and practicing in people-helping professions, as well as anyone experiencing or attempting to make sense of major life events.

Where to Find

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Emeritus Distinguished Professor Jeff Malpas (University of Tasmania, Australia, 2020)

Is it possible to comprehend ones own death? Might the attempt to do so be critical for the engagement with ones own life? Reflecting on the Inevitable takes the reader on a journey into the midst of the questions that emerge here, drawing together a range of philosophical and psychological considerations within an intriguing and accessible narrative that will be of value, not only to students and researchers in many different fields, but also to anyone who has begun to reflect on the fact of their own inevitable demise. (Endorsement)

Professor Jens Johansson (Uppsala University, Sweden, 2020)

This is a rich and fascinating study of the prospect of personal death. The book is unusual in that it combines insights from various different disciplines and schools of thought. Adams discussions are thought-provoking and more entertaining than the subject matter might suggest.  (Endorsement)

Professor Paul Fairfield (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 2020)

Reflecting on the Inevitable provides an accessible and interdisciplinary guide to the philosophy and psychology of death. Adams focus on personal mortality makes this book an especially welcome contribution to the literature. It will be of interest to anyone with a serious interest in the personal dimension of mortality as well as the general issue of how we may think our way through this extremely elusive realm of human experience.  (Endorsement)


[ARTICLE]  How to prepare for death. Oxford University Press, OUP Blogs, May 15, 2020. Read more

[ARTICLE]  Professor Peter Adams: Thinking about his death. University of Auckland UniNews, May 5, 2020. Read more