DEATH gets a bad press. Invariably the unwelcome visitor, arriving too soon, he is feared and loathed: "the last enemy" in the words of the Bible.
But a few poets and philosophers throughout history have argued that without death we would be at a loss. It's the prospect of his coming that gets us out of bed in the morning and drives us to great deeds. Now a growing body of evidence from social psychology suggests that these thinkers are right. People might dream of a deathless civilisation, but without death, there would barely be a civilisation at all.