Age and Existence: An Empirical-Philosophical Investigation of Late Life

Project: Research project

Project Details


How can we distinguish ageing well from ageing badly? To tackle this question, researchers have developed the concept of successful ageing. The classical definition mentions three criteria of “success”: low probability of disease, high physical and cognitive capacities, and active engagement with life. Despite its popularity among researchers and policy makers, “successful ageing” suffers from major conceptual problems. Most importantly, there is an excessive focus on the “external perspective”. Relying almost exclusively on quantitative data, the advocates of successful ageing routinely overlook the “internal perspective”, that is, the subjective experience of elderly people. This research project seeks to address the above-mentioned issue by pursuing the following question: How to conceptualise the phenomenon of ageing from an internal perspective, as opposed to the external perspective that dominates the discourse on successful ageing? Specifically, this project proposes an empirical-philosophical investigation of late life that draws on phenomenology, intersectionality theory, and ethnography. Phenomenology, one of the central currents of contemporary philosophy, is concerned with the concrete “howness” of experience. Starting from the phenomenological concept of existence, I will explore the experience of ageing in its various—bodily, temporal, and social—dimensions. I will then proceed to observe and interview elderly inhabitants of Tilburg (older than 65), using the ethnographic method. Thematically, my fieldwork will focus on the participants’ subjective experiences of ageing, building on the phenomenological framework established previously. Drawing on both empirical and philosophical resources, this approach offers a fresh perspective on ageing that moves beyond the dichotomy of success and failure.
Effective start/end date2/09/1931/08/24


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.