Why does mourning take time and occupy time? How does mourning end? What were the major philosophical proposals to disable grief or to imagine death so as to take away legitimacy from mourning? My talk will consider Stoic, Christian, and later arguments against mourning, including those implied by Spinoza’s thought experiments with the passions. I will use Shakespeare’s Hamlet to discuss prolonged mourning, distraction, and the absence of mourning. Poetic examples will also be used to discuss surprise and mourning.
Philip Fisher was Professor of English, Harvard University. Fisher’s publications include The Vehement Passions (2002); Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction (1999); Wonder, the Rainbow, and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences (1998); Making and Effacing Art (1991); (ed.) New American Studies (1991); Hard Facts (1986); Making Up Society (1981). He received the Truman Capote Prize, jointly with Elaine Scarry, for Dreaming by the Book.