“The fact that our time on this earth is limited is actually the ultimate incentive to act.”

Jeanne Proust

Meet Jeanne Proust. She’s a philosopher and educator – in this thirteen minute piece she explains what philosophy says about death. These timeless ideas help us make sense of life, but don’t address the powerful emotions of grief and loss. This episode offers a more precise language for talking about death in future episodes.

About Jeanne Proust

After studying in Bordeaux, Berlin, and Paris, Jeanne has been teaching Philosophy, Art History and French Literature for the last ten years in the US. During her PhD (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), her research has focused on the pathologies of the willpower, both in philosophical and psychological perspectives, but her interests are wide: among many fields, she does research in Ethics, Philosophy of Technologies and Aesthetics.

While teaching in New York, Jeanne advocates for a widening of philosophical education beyond the Academia frontiers by participating in different events open to the general public; she taught philosophy at Rikers Island as a volunteer and at the NYPL night of Philosophy. Jeanne also holds a degree in Visual Arts; she collaborates with artists on her photography, drawing and painting works.

Jeanne is going to lay out the philosophical underpinnings of death. You’re going to learn things every human should know. But then she’s going to share her human side, and talk about they way her training kinda failed her during a personal tragedy.  

Recalibrating the Timeline and Tone of Life’s Biggest Conversations

Getting the tone right in a conversation about death can be really tricky. If you don’t acknowledge the grief and fear of others then you’re viewed as cold. But if you are too tentative the conversation is boring and inauthentic. You don’t get anywhere.

This show is going to work or not work based on the tone of the conversation. So this is the episode where we start to lay out precise language and mental models for better conversations. Thinking about how we might talk to children about death turns out to be a pretty useful approach.

So – I hope you can sit back and enjoy this Cliff Notes version of the philosophy of life and death.

This episode was produced by Pat Cupples. Not only did he do the reporting and editing, he also provided original music. Additional music is from the band Hotels & Highways.

Pictured: Roman marble bust of Epicurus