Bechtol, Harris Bennett (2016-01). Inflections of the Event: The Death of the Other as Event. Doctoral Dissertation.
This project brings into focus the nature of an event in continental philosophy as it relates to the phenomenon of the death of another person. In this, I offer a description of what is philosophically happening when another person dies for those who survive this person with particular focus on the ontological, ethical, and theological implications of such a death. I maintain that the best such phenomenological description comes through engaging the death of the other in terms of the technical usage of the event in continental philosophy. In short, I argue that the death of the other is an event because such a death is not only the loss of the person but also the loss of the meaning of the world to and with this person. So the death of the other is a death of the world. To argue this, I trace the discussion about the nature of an event from Martin Heidegger's account of the event through the French reception of this aspect of Heidegger's philosophy in the works of Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion. Moreover, through unfolding these complex accounts on the nature of an event, I develop the relationality that attends this event of the death of the other by focusing on the disclosivity of such death. The death of the other as an event shows us not only the ontological insight that being itself is relational but also that this event impacts our ethical life. When an other dies, we have a responsibility to mourn and remember the other. Through this ontology and ethical impetus of the death of the other, I maintain that we broach an important distinction between modalities of otherness based on the relational involvement that we have with people in our lives. Such a relational, existential difference within alterity spans from the others with whom we have little relation to the others whose relation structures our understanding of the world. By using this existential difference, my account of the death of the other includes the death of not only humans but also animals and even God.
George, Theodore Professor and Texas A&M Presidential Impact fellow, Head of the Department of Philosophy