Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Life after death

Life, Death and Time
by Philippe de Champaigne (17th century)
From Wikipedia
Do you expect to continue in some way after death? I'm not asking how that might come about, the question is - do you expect something else to occur to what you think of as "me" after breathing your last?

I expect total personal extinction, which of course is not an expectation at all because it is akin to expecting nothing – just total cessation of me. Like a kind of dreamless sleep, but rather deeper than usual I suppose.

I find this view comforting because extinct is how I prefer to think of loved ones who are now dead. I would not like this clean and unambiguous state of total extinction to be muddied with other possibilities. I certainly prefer it to a kind of transmutation into another state where we are ourselves but at the same time are obviously no such thing.

In the end, I suppose these are personal matters, because inevitably we apply them to those we once knew and loved - at least I do. Matters sometimes worth articulating perhaps, but not often and not stridently, because they tend to be fixed points in our lives. It really isn’t worth disturbing these fixed points for the sake of controversy, even if disturbance of something so personal was at all likely.

After all, there are more than enough concerns on this side of the grave for us to worry about what may lie beyond. Extinction suits me - but perhaps not yet.


Sam Vega said...

"a kind of transmutation into another state where we are ourselves but at the same time are obviously no such thing."

I'm happiest with that. Not least because it has been the story of my life so far.

What is this thing called "you" that might or might not exist in the future?

James Higham said...

Too much evidence down through history to take the chance we won't go on and have to face the music. A gambler wouldn't play the odds by assuming it all ends.

rogerh said...

I am an extinctionist, the question is why don't extinctionists go off the rails - aside from the fear of arrest.

A K Haart said...

SV - "you" is mostly a social construct - as I is (:

JH - as so often, I think these things depend in part on personal experience such as how to remember those who have died. I prefer extinction as perfect peace.

rogerh - maybe because we were exposed to older, mostly religious moral imperatives. What will replace them though?

Macheath said...

This topic came up over dinner recently - best comment was from my mother, who pointed out that, if you don't worry about where you were before you were conceived, why should you worry about where you're going after death?

A K Haart said...

M - good point - I don't worry about either and never have, which I suppose is part of the issue.