Lecture: It’s Always Other People Who Are Dying, By The Way … Body and Corpse in the Philosophy of the Present


Lecture by Andrea Esser (Codirector, Research Project “Death and Dead Bodies”)

The motto on Duchamps’ gravestone “D’ailleurs, c’est toujours les autres, qui meurent” is an ironic reminder. We certainly know that all people are mortal, but we still tend to forget that this also applies to us. We not only have the capacity to grasp our own death as knowing beings, but we are also as called to do so as social, emotional, and physical beings, as people. Whereas death can correctly be defined as “the irreversible end of an organism,” as people we are not only members of a species but also the source and focal reference of an individually lived, physically expressed, and unique life. This individual life is terminated by death and leaves behind not a corpse but a dead body. These personal aspects of death and the corpse cannot be understood in general terms but only by means of aesthetic and artistic representations.

Andrea Esser has been Professor for Practical Philosophy at the Philipps University in Marburg since 2006; she is also editor of the Academy edition of Kant’s “Kritik der Urteilskraft”, coeditor of the “Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie (DZPhil)”, and managing director of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Philosophie (DGPhil). She studied psychology and political science at the LMU Munich, where she received her doctorate in 1994. In 2002 she completed her habilitation thesis in philosophy also at the LMU. Esser heads the subproject I “Philosophy in the Function of a Critical-Reconstructive and Critical-Normal Reflection” in the interdisciplinary research project “Death and Dead Bodies. Transmortality” (Aachen, Berlin, Marburg, and Zurich).