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The four stories we tell ourselves to get over our fear of death

Gemäldegalerie Museum Berlin
"The Fountain of Youth" (1546), Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Death is inevitable. At the same time, it’s impossible for any of us to quite picture ourselves snuffing it.

And so humans keep finding creative ways to convince ourselves that death is not the end, according to Stephen Cave, an expert on death and immortality and the executive director at the University of Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. As Cave explains in his book Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, the stories that we’ve told ourselves, across every culture and era, can be sorted into one of four categories.

Dr. Stephen Cave.

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