RELATED ARTICLE: What does it take to believe in death?
Death is one of the biggest agonies of humans.
And as such, it dictates our life in ways we do not even realize.
Philosophers and common people alike have been contemplating death for millennia and we are destined to do so for as much as we exist in this world. For living, DYING is the one thing that can cause terror and destroy our temporary happiness. For those who exist, DEATH is the one thing that makes them realize that they will not exist for ever and, thus, makes them aware of their ephemeral nature. Regardless of the philosophical ideas for death that each one of us have, one thing we all share in common: Our BELIEF IN DEATH.
No matter what we think about it though, we never question its existence!
Harmonia Philosophica has already mentioned in multiple articles how dogmatism can hinder our vision even when things are clear, let alone when things are obscure as in the case of death. The main article related to Death and its non-existence has the elaborate title “What does it take to believe in death?” and it summarizes the main beliefs that are the foundation for the existence of death itself. This article is an attempt to re-examine the case of the dogmatism in favor of death that transcends our civilization and give the final blow to the dogma of death. Note that this article will be constantly updated with new ideas.
The foundations of our belief in Death
Without further delay, let us examine the major dogmas that lie at the foundation of our belief in death:
Notion of Change: We believe things can change. This may sound weird since we obviously see things changing, yet Parmenides would argue fiercely against this naive belief. How can an object change and still stay the same? If an apple changes to something else, is it still an apple? Believe it or not (pun intended) the notion of Change is something under discussion in philosophy. And guess what: Without Change, there is no death…
Notion of Identity: What is an apple? How do we know it is still *that apple* after it has decayed? Who am I? Who are you? How do we still know it is *you* even after you have changed way of thinking, way of walking, or even something as simple as your haircut? How can I still be *me* if all my human body cells get replaced about six times during my lifetime? And yes, your guess correctly: Without a way to identify a person (i.e. to also identify that this person has seized to exist), there is no death…
Notion of Time: There is a huge debate about Time and whether it exists or not. Is it part of reality or just an arbitrary notion we invented based on our limited perception of the world? Einstein was famous is saying “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”. His theories anyway portrayed time as just another dimension. Meaning that as we can easily get from Athens to Paris (3 spatial dimensions) we can easily (well, not now but perhaps in the future) go from Time point A to Time point B by taking our personal time machine. If that is the case, then Death is essentially not we have been fearing about. We can always visit our great-great-great-grandfather when needed and get his advise… And perhaps we do go back in time to when humans did not believed so much in this stubborn illusion we call “time”, but in immortality…
Notion of Nothingness: This is weird, but still one of the foundations of our belief in Death. We firmly believe that there are things that exist and things that do not exist. This belief is so fundamentally hardcoded into our thinking that we barely think about it. Parmenides though thought a lot about it. How can we even speak about something that does not exist?, he asked. And there is not an easy answer to that simple question. The implications of the above should be clear enough by now. What is death without the possibility of not-being?
Dogma of Materialism: This is another big dogma that underlies almost all humans to-day. And it is a crucial belief that supports our belief in Death. Materialism dictates that everything in the world is made of matter (hence the name). Thus, it is easy to conclude that when the matter that makes a human body seizes to function then we have seized to Be. Yet, there are many things that are left unanswered by such a worldview. Materialism is a dogmatic philosophical belief and a rather old one to be honest. Harmonia Philosophica has multiple articles against materialism – feel free to search for them. In summary, materialism has many gaps that disprove it. Belief in that dogma is more a matter of blind faith than a matter of scientific knowledge. And once more, the implications for our belief in death are devastating: Without our belief in Materialism our belief in Death is purely a matter of… choice.
Belief in our self (Metaphysical ignorance and arrogance): This is a largely ignored fact when we discuss about death. Our ignorance of basic metaphysical matters is so profound that it makes our dogmatic belief in death and its meaning almost comical. We claim to know what death is and yet we do not now what life is, we do not know what existence is, we do not know what Being is. Yet, we are arrogant enough to claim that we know what Death is! We believe so much into our self and the knowledge we have acquired up to know, that we are stupid enough to claim things regarding death without even knowing the basics for life. We should at least follow the example of Socrates who boldly admitted that we does not know what death is, if we want to be honest to our self. It may sound weird but our belief in our self and our capabilities to understand the cosmos has also lead (literally) to our death!
Philosophy is all about questioning everything.
Science is also all about questioning everything.
And yet, when it comes to one of the most important facets of our life – death – we forget that. And we blindly accept multiple dogmas in our urge to claim that we “know”. But we do not know.
Question your dogmas!
You may not be brave enough to believe in your immortality…
At least be coward enough not to believe in death…