HUFFINGTON POST

What Good Is Thinking About Death?

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, FRANCE - JUNE 03: A red rose is laid at the headstone of an American soldier at the Normandy American Cem
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, FRANCE - JUNE 03: A red rose is laid at the headstone of an American soldier at the Normandy American Cemetery above Omaha Beach June 3, 2014 in Colleville-Sur-Mer, France. June 6 is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings which saw 156,000 troops from the Allied countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, join forces to launch an attack on the beaches of Normandy, these assaults are credited with the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. A series of events commemorating the 70th anniversary is planned for the week with many heads of state travelling to the famous beaches to pay their respects to those who lost their lives. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In the heart of every parent lives the tightly coiled nightmare that his child will die. It might spring at logical times—when a toddler runs into the street, say—or it might sneak up in quieter moments. The fear is a helpful evolutionary motivation for parents to protect their children, but it's haunting nonetheless.

The ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus advised parents to indulge that fear. “What harm is it, just when you are kissing your little child, to say: Tomorrow you will die?” he wrote in his Discourses.

Some might say Epictetus was an asshole. William Irvine thinks he was on to something.

Read more on The Atlantic

CONVERSATIONS