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The ‘death of God’ is the second notion. Belief in God – and the values that go with such belief – is no longer possible or relevant within modernity. This is both a liberation and a crushing blow (for it means that the burden of creating and justifying values falls upon the human). Here, ‘death’ means old, weak, irrelevant, and historical, transient, and indeed not eternal. The third concerns are either the notion of euthanasia or the relation of life to the thought of mortality. Some of the most beautiful passages are pleas for a ‘rational’ or ‘free’ death, one that precisely from out of ‘love of life’ does not allow the body entirely to outlive its usefulness and capacity for action. The thought of old mix a drop of ‘foolishness’ into life, rather than gloom; this partly is because, without the need to come rapidly to a judgement about the significant issues for the sake of one’s eternal soul, the thought of our mortality frees us.

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