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Old Age, Ethics and Phases-of-life: Prolegomena for a Phenomenological Gerontology

An elderly couple by the sea in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Harmandeep Gill  

Rasmus Dyring (postdoc.): Old Age, Ethics and Phases-of-life: Prolegomena for a Phenomenological Gerontology  
This project proposes the concept of "phase-of-life" as a fundamental concept of phenomenological gerontology. With special attention to ethnographic depictions of "old age" and building on the notion that human life phases are "not yet settled", but continuously negotiated culturally and existentially, the project explores (i) the dynamics by which the lived time of human life courses "settles" into specific life phases and (ii) the consequences for ethical life of such configurations of lived experience. 

The project contributes to philosophical phenomenological scholarship by examining phases-of-life as a previously overlooked, constitutive element of human coexistence. It supplements the critical approaches to aging by asking how phases-of-life are shaped by sui generis existential factors arising immanently in lived experience - in addition to external forces (such as social structures and economic regimes). What role do natality (Arendt 1958) and morality (Kierkegaard 1993, Dyring 2015) play in the constitution of "old age"? How do these aspects change throughout life and how do they manifest in different experiences and possibilities in different phases-of-life? This leads to the second issue: If the quest for a good old life is distinct from simply the quest for a good life, how is "old age" qua phase-of-life implicated in the configuration of ethical demands and moral striving?