From the Inside Flap
What is Death?
They are the questions that have challenged philosophers, theologians, artists, and ordinary human beings for millennia: Why are we born only to die? Does death have meaning? What happens to our "selves" after we die? In What Is Death?, biologist Tyler Volk considers these piercing questions from a unique perspective that allows him to offer readers alternatives to many traditional religious explanations.
Inspired by his own confrontation with mysterious neurological problems, Volk embarks on a personal exploration of the meaning of death and its powerful implications about the meaning of life. The answersand further questionsthat he discovers by asking "What is death?" are surprising, diverse, uplifting, and extraordinarily life-affirming.
What Is Death? examines the phenomenon of death from organic, personal, and social points of view. It sheds light upon the life spans of creatures and the role of cell death in bodily health; contemplates the links among the personal confrontation with death, our brain, and consciousness; and probes the customs and rituals that surround death in various cultures.
By illustrating how death is integral to life at every scale, What Is Death? will enable those who embrace its vision to live more vigorous, loving, and meaningful lives. This engrossing look into the mysteries of existence offers immensely rewarding reading to anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the one universal fact of life: death.
From the Back Cover
what is death?
A Scientist Looks at the Cycle of Life
Answering the question ""What is death?"" by focusing on the individual is blinkered. It restricts attention to a narrow zone around the individual body of a creature. Instead, how expansive is the answer we receive when we look at the context of death within the biosphere. Death now is tied to all of life, via the atmosphere and ocean. Death supports the awesome biological enterprise of making abundant the green and squiggly life. Talk about death has headed us straight into a contemplation of life, not only individual life, but big life, life on a global scale. Death and life are neatly dovetailed by the supreme cabinetmaker of evolution. Again, the crucial feature is not the death of any one creature per se, but rather what is done with death. To reach into the meaning of death, we must reach out into the wider context of which death is a part.