Saturday, January 15, 2005

Death

We do, of course, always lose in life. Life always has a bad ending, in fact, it always has the worst possible ending: death. How are we to face a challenge that is impossible to overcome?

Some might advocate immortality by way of offspring, or through innovative contributions to society. The problem, of course, lies in the fact that these things, too, will pass. Children will die, entire societies will die, and any contribution or historical contribution to the world will eventually be forgotten. We are, in fact, destined to lose in the great game of life.

This initially depressing realization is, in fact, not quite so bad as we might imagine. Sure, we cannot hold our prime value forever, but then nothing really lasts forever. Our goal remains the same; we must work for life, and not only life, but the best possible life for as long as we are able.

Once we do die, it would be easy to lament our apparent failure at achieving our value, but it would be impossible to do so. When one is dead, they are dead, and there is no more lamenting or hoping to be done. Others might praise or chastise us, but their thoughts mean nothing to a dead person, and they too will die, along with their thoughts. Ultimately, we care when it is important and possible to care, that is, when we are alive, but we likewise cease to care about values and virtues at all once we are dead, as they dead care about nothing.

This actually gives us great relief. While we might care passionately about our existence now, when we do not have our existence any more, when we stand to be the most distraught, is exactly the same time that it will not matter to us anymore. There is nothing to fear in death, because there is nothing in death.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can death be the "worst possible ending" when it is the only ending?

Otherwise I generally with your sentiments. Though "work for the best possible life" isn't exactly shocking, so it's not surprising to find that I agree.

1:08 PM  
Blogger RCowan said...

That was perhaps bad phrasology on my part, I apologize. A better way to phrase the idea is this: Death is the only possible outcome of life, but it is contrary to our highest value, making it bad.

And I'm glad we can agree on something, even if it is something pretty simple.

11:10 AM  

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