4th Annual James W. Carey Memorial Lecture Focuses on the Human Fear of Death

On September 17th, the 4th Annual James W. Carey Memorial Lecture took place in Loosemore Auditorium at the DeVos Center. The featured speaker was Dr. Sheldon Solomon who is a psychology professor at Skidmore College. The event was centered on Ernest Becker’s idea of how a person’s fear of death influences their actions and beliefs.

Solomon pointed out the differences between humans and other creatures in the world.

“Only humans have capacity to imagine dreams and make them reality. We are here because we are social and intelligent” said Solomon. “Only human beings are self-aware. The moment you are self-conscious you experience awe and dread.”

photo 1The lecture continued by addressing the idea that human beings are always somewhat conscious of the fact that they will eventually die. This fear of immortality also affects how we treat people that are different from us.

“The minute you realize that you are alive, you are shackled with the idea that you will someday die” said Solomon. “When we repress death, death denial gets reflected onto people that are different from us.”

In closing, Solomon talked about what could be done to better humans when it comes to death denial and the possibilities it unlocks.

“We need to step up to the psychological plate and come to terms with death. If we do, anything is possible.”

More information about the event is available at http://www.gvsu.edu/events/james-w-carey-memorial-lecture-dr-sheldon-solomon/.