Throughout the ages and around the globe, the vast majority of people, past and present, have been led by their religions to believe that their existence literally continues in some form beyond the point of physical death.
We “live on” symbolically through our work, through the people we have known, through the memorials marking our graves, and through our progeny.
This brings us to the central tenets of terror management theory. We humans all manage the problem of knowing we are mortal by calling on two basic psychological resources. First, we need to sustain faith in our cultural worldview, which imbues our sense of reality with order, meaning, and permanence.
…the second vital resource for managing terror is a feeling of personal significance, commonly known as self-esteem.
The desire for self-esteem drives us all, and drives us hard. Self-esteem shields us against the rumblings of dread that lie beneath the surface of our everyday experience. Self-esteem enables each of us to believe we are enduring, significant beings rather than material creatures destined to be obliterated.
Socrates defined the task of philosophy as “learning how to die.” For Hegel, history was a record of “what man does with death.”