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Old age in existentialist perspective

Kristana Arp

pp. 135-148

Drawing mainly from Simone De Beauvoir's The Coming of Age, Arp lays out what existentialism has to say about the experience of old age. She highlights the disconnect between the biological reality of old age and our inward experience of ourselves: old people feel the same inside, although the mirror tells a different story. However, their relation to the past, present, and future is different from that of younger people. The rigid habits they tend to adopt and the repercussions of past choices constrain their lives. They turn to their memories for solace, but these memories are fragmentary and seem unreal. Even success ultimately becomes disappointing. Nonetheless, according to existentialism, the old, like the young, can still find meaning in existence through throwing themselves into their chosen projects.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-39356-2_9

Full citation:

Arp, K. (2016)., Old age in existentialist perspective, in G. Scarre (ed.), The Palgrave handbook of the philosophy of aging, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 135-148.

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