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Death Rituals and the Corpse
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Death Rituals and the Corpse

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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Death’s Place in Our Lives
Start your exploration of this profound topic with a helpful overview of how we, as human beings, think about death. What place does it occupy in our lives? How have…
Episode 2 Defining Death
To truly understand the subject of death, you have to be able to define it. Here, discover how the definition of death exists on multiple levels and how each of…
Episode 3 Death, Illusion, and Meaning
Explore how it's possible for us to find meaning in life--even when confronted with the finality of it. Drawing on the work of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, discover how forms…
Episode 4 Is It Rational to Fear Death?
Should death be considered "bad"? Should we even bother fearing it? As you reflect on philosophical arguments by the ancient Epicurus (who thought death wasn't bad for the dead) and…
Episode 5 Understanding and Coping with Grief
In this lecture on what Professor Berkson calls "an inescapable part of the human condition," unpack the feelings and behaviors of the grieving process. Topics include the evolutionary benefits of…
Episode 6 Death Rituals and the Corpse
Since the dawn of humanity, corpses have held lasting significance for us. In this lecture, probe the various ways human civilizations have "disposed" of corpses--from burial (the oldest method for…
Episode 7 American Death Rituals
In America, death rituals display a remarkable diversity and range from the minimalist to the extravagant. Chart the evolution of American funerals by looking at three major periods: the traditional…
Episode 8 Approaches to Dying Well
None of us can avoid dying. But some believe we can learn how to die well. Professor Berkson introduces you to ways that others have faced death (with regret, dignity,…
Episode 9 Judaism on Death and the Afterlife
In the first of several lectures on how major world faiths approach death, the focus is on Judaism. From the importance of mourning and burial rites to the recent resurgence…
Episode 10 Death and Hope in Christianity
For Christians, death does not have the final say; in fact, the living have the hope of victory over death. Investigate Christian views of death, including the possibility of physical…
Episode 11 Islam on Returning to God
Many Muslims consider life on earth as a test to determine one's eternal fate, making existence just one part of an infinitely greater story. Consider how the primary forms of…
Episode 12 Death, Rebirth, and Liberation in Hinduism
In Hinduism, death is part of a grander cycle of rebirth and suffering--with the ultimate goal of liberation (moksha). Here, ponder the concept of the Atman (one's immutable soul); meet…
Episode 13 Buddhism on Impermanence and Mindfulness
Professor Berkson notes that the Buddhist tradition was established, in part, as a response to the realities of sickness and death. The Buddha's response to the experience of dying, as…
Episode 14 The Process of Dying in Tibetan Buddhism
Continue a look a Buddhist approaches to death, this time focusing on Tibetan Buddhism's deep, extensive teachings on the actual process of death and rebirth. Central to this lecture: the…
Episode 15 Confucian Remembrance, Daoist Forgetting
Unlike other faiths, Confucianism and Daoism focus almost entirely on life in this world, not the next. So how do followers find meaning and consolation in the face of their…
Episode 16 Death and Syncretism in China
First, look at Chinese traditions involving spirits of the dead and other supernatural beings. Then, visit some of the many possibilities for a soul's destination in Chinese traditions (including a…
Episode 17 Suicide Examined
In the last half-century, suicide rates have increased nearly 60% worldwide. This is your opportunity to investigate ways to think about this stigmatized subject. You'll examine what great philosophers and…
Episode 18 The Choice of Euthanasia
Examine another controversial subject: euthanasia, or the deliberate ending of a life to ease suffering. By exploring the actual experiences of suffering people, the three kinds of euthanasia, and the…
Episode 19 Killing in War and the Pacifist Challenge
Is deliberate killing justified when it happens during wartime? Consider this powerful question by looking at how depersonalization helps soldiers become more comfortable with killing; how civilizations and religious traditions…
Episode 20 Considering Capital Punishment
In this lecture, Professor Berkson discusses the nature of capital punishment, the moral arguments for and against it, and whether or not the practice accomplishes its intended purposes. Specifically, you'll…
Episode 21 Killing Non-Human Animals
From euthanizing a sick dog to slaughtering cows for food, how do we reconcile our feelings about killing when it comes to the non-human animals around us? Ponder the moral…
Episode 22 Near-Death Experiences
Explore the mysterious topic of near-death experiences (NDEs). You'll encounter fascinating stories told by survivors themselves; explore the scientific studies behind - and possible explanations for - this increasingly common…
Episode 23 The Pursuit of Immortality
For as long as we've been aware of death, we've searched for ways to avoid it. Examine a few of the many methods people have used to attempt immortality, including…
Episode 24 The Value of Death
Does death offer us something of value? In this last lecture, continue examining the idea of immortality. You'll cover the negative implications of immortality (like boredom), examine issues that Jorge…

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