Epistemology of bereavement: reflections on continuing bonds
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Epistemología; duelo; vínculos continuos; construcción de nicho afectivo. Epistemology; bereavement; continuing bonds; affective niche construction. Epistemologia; luto; laços contínuos; construção de nicho afetivo.

How to Cite

Vázquez del Mercado, A. (2022). Epistemology of bereavement: reflections on continuing bonds. Resistances. Journal of the Philosophy of History, 3(6), e21098. https://doi.org/10.46652/resistances.v3i6.98


The period of bereavement following the loss of a loved one presents unusual experiences and attitudes that play an important role in the cognitive life of bereaved people; for example, the momentary feeling that the deceased person is present, as well as religious or spiritual beliefs. Often this involves actively maintaining a bond with the deceased person through various practices in everyday life. Both the mental states related to mourning and the practices corresponding to continuing bonds have an epistemic value, to the extent that they provide a contribution to the functionality of the agent in his search to acquire knowledge, understanding, and other epistemic goods. This has ethical and social consequences since these epistemic goods can be dismantled or affected by bereavement interventions, both clinical and non-clinical. Notwithstanding, this dimension has not been sufficiently recognized by the philosophical literature. This work seeks to motivate the epistemological study of bereavement in two ways. First, by offering a characterization of the mental states associated with grief in terms of subdoxastic states (such as aliefs). Second, the role that these mental states play in the space of affordances structured in an affective niche that allows the successful performance of the suffering person as an epistemic agent is shown. This seeks to provide an analytical framework that can be developed and extended in future works to study the epistemological aspects of bereavement.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Alejandro Vázquez del Mercado


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