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Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 01:18 PM

Death
 
Death is something that has really interested me lately. While, of all the things to be interested in, this seems like a "no shit" and cliche topic, I think that certain experiences I've had this year have really opened up the gates of understanding what death really is.

Death is actually horrifying, and existence as we know it makes little to no sense objectively -- as objective as we can be to look at quite literally everything we know about existence.

While everybody "knows" that we're going to die, it is something that I feel many people do not spend a significant amount of time thinking about -- for obvious reasons. And for those that are afraid of it, there are various coping mechanisms, which I'm sure I don't have to go into here, that people use to deal with it.

I recently stumbled upon these open Yale lectures by a philosophy professor named Shelly Kagan. I'm only getting the chance to listen to the first one now. I'll probably do updates as I go along -- there's 26 of them, so it's basically a semester's worth of lectures.

Feel free to chime in your feelings and how you cope with death. Preferably not just "I just try to enjoy life as much as i can, because I could die any day." While nice, it's a bit idealistic and it's rare that people who say this actually do it in practice. I want some fears, some concerns, some absurdity.


Johnny Richter 12-20-2012 01:26 PM

I watched the first two when you posted on facebook. Skip the first one, or maybe watch the first twenty minutes. After that he starts going over the syllabus.

Second one is pretty good. However, he seems to iterate the same point over and over again. I'm not sure if I could make it through a whole semester with him and not get frustrated and bored by this. Still, I plan to keep watching them, eventually, because death is an fascinating topic.

Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 01:32 PM

Nice! I watched the first 20 minutes when I posted it but had to run. Yeah, the rest of the syllabus stuff is boring. On #2 now, we'll see how it goes.

Beebs 12-20-2012 02:08 PM

Is death itself scary? I worry about the process, since it could be terrible, and those who would be left to deal with the loss, but being dead doesn't seem scary, I won't be there to notice.

Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 02:33 PM

Actually being dead isn't scary. But the concept of not existing is scary, while we have to "look forward" to not existing for the next 50-70 years.

Fuck that's a long time.

Johnny Richter 12-20-2012 02:49 PM

Assuming we're not in a computer simulation. Which btw, I saw some article about a scientist who thinks that we will be able to test this possibility in the next few years.

Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 02:55 PM

Yes, you saw that on my motherfucking Facebook page. Don't make me take away my generous posrep.

Beebs 12-20-2012 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde (Post 432642)
Actually being dead isn't scary. But the concept of not existing is scary, while we have to "look forward" to not existing for the next 50-70 years.

Fuck that's a long time.

The looking forward to it, that's a solid point, but not existing is essentially neutral I say.

Johnny Richter 12-20-2012 03:27 PM

Saw it on r/science, homojew.

Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 04:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beebs (Post 432647)
The looking forward to it, that's a solid point, but not existing is essentially neutral I say.

Seems a bit of a truism and ignoring the fate of nonexistence in your future. Yes, in itself it will be nothing. But I imagine we're all going to get much more attached to living over the next 50 years than we are currently.

THEINCREDIBLEdork 12-20-2012 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde (Post 432635)
Death is something that has really interested me lately.

Only Mr. Blonde's death interests me.

DJ FC 12-20-2012 05:06 PM

When I try to put myself in the place where I imagine the lack of existence I feel a bit insane.

DDTempest 12-20-2012 07:00 PM

How come I never see all this shit Blonde posts on facebook? It sounds like interesting stuff ...

Mr. Blonde 12-20-2012 07:06 PM

The second lecture really was repetitive, it makes me wonder what level of a course this is, or if he's just "going easy" because it's the first week at this point. I hope the lectures get more advanced as the course progressed; which is pretty likely.

SittinOnDubsWGW 12-21-2012 05:17 PM

I think about death a decent amount. Particularly the moment of death frequently. A constant thought that plays through my mind at work is, if I get shot in the head, will I feel the bullet ripping through my brain for a brief millisecond. Weird, but it happens.

Other than those thoughts, the general concept of death/not existing is a super odd feeling to me. When I think about it, I get a very cold/empty feeling that takes me a bit to shake off.

Johnny Richter 12-21-2012 07:16 PM

Does everyone here, besides myself and BDH, believe 100% that there is no existence after death? Say that within 90% ~100%.

If so, how can you be so sure? To me it seems more like 50 50. Moreover why do you want to refuse the possibility of continued, perhaps immortal, existence?

Are truth and pride really greater than hope and faith? I don't know.

Think about your dying and ceasing to exist. Try to imagine nothingness. As many of you mentioned, it brings about an unpleasant feeling. It's difficult to comprehend. It's not a good feeling. It's bad and probably bad for you.

Now, for the sake of this test, think about having continued existence after death. It doesn't have to be religious, just try to give merit to the thought that in some universe or dimension, you will continue to exist, whether or not you are consciously aware of it. This thought brings out good feelings. It makes you feel better about death. These feelings are inherently good. They are certainly healthier than the alternative, especially for the mind. Having faith in people and that everything is going to be okay also seems inherently good. Having faith about continued existence is also a good thing. What is the significance of something being good? Maybe there is a reason.

Tl;dr: DAE believe there is a somewhat strong possibility of existence after death? Faith is a good and healthy thing. What is the significance of something being good?

THEINCREDIBLEdork 12-21-2012 08:14 PM

"I don't think about it" pretty much sums up how I feel about it. There is not a shred of evidence that something like that exists. But there is also this weird phenomenon that everybody believes there is. I don't usually care to even talk about it. Its like talking about whether there are mushroom men in the 6th dimension. There may very well be mushroom men in the 6th dimension, but I don't find it interesting at all to talk about whether there are or not or even take a stance on whether or not I believe there are mushroom men in the 6th dimension.

Mr. Blonde 12-21-2012 08:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dirty Harry (Post 432684)
Does everyone here, besides myself and BDH, believe 100% that there is no existence after death? Say that within 90% ~100%.

If so, how can you be so sure? To me it seems more like 50 50. Moreover why do you want to refuse the possibility of continued, perhaps immortal, existence?

Are truth and pride really greater than hope and faith? I don't know.

Think about your dying and ceasing to exist. Try to imagine nothingness. As many of you mentioned, it brings about an unpleasant feeling. It's difficult to comprehend. It's not a good feeling. It's bad and probably bad for you.

Now, for the sake of this test, think about having continued existence after death. It doesn't have to be religious, just try to give merit to the thought that in some universe or dimension, you will continue to exist, whether or not you are consciously aware of it. This thought brings out good feelings. It makes you feel better about death. These feelings are inherently good. They are certainly healthier than the alternative, especially for the mind. Having faith in people and that everything is going to be okay also seems inherently good. Having faith about continued existence is also a good thing. What is the significance of something being good? Maybe there is a reason.

Tl;dr: DAE believe there is a somewhat strong possibility of existence after death? Faith is a good and healthy thing. What is the significance of something being good?




It's not "bad" per se, as much as it is believing in something for no good reason other than the simple fact that you want to believe in it. At some point, in a lot of people's lives, they realize that it's time to swallow the hard pill of probable reality versus what they hope happens. This happens at different times throughout people's lives, but from what I've noticed it's usually after traumatic life events.

What it really comes down to, DH, is caring about whether what you believe is true or not. The truth is, none of us knows what happens after death. But, like most things in life that concern us deeply, we try to get as much information to prepare ourselves as possible. And unless you're religious or "deeply spiritual", you likely aren't going to find any intellectually or emotionally satisfying information on the afterlife; because there isn't any, other than anecdotal evidence and what people have apparently manufactured.

I am a firm believer that people's belief in an afterlife is composed of several major elements:

1. Obviously, no one wants to die, and we all want to live forever (in theory). Dying is a very stressful thing to consider and so people say "but maybe...just maybe!" and that thought process feels so good people get extremely emotionally attached to it.

2. Punishment/Reward. There is so much fucked up shit in this world, many people have to believe in the dichotomized afterlife so those who are "wicked" will be punished, and good people, like themselves (of course) will be rewarded. Life is hard as shit and doesn't make a lot of sense. It's actually logical for people to create some kind of after-life reward, if we are looking at humans as animals.

3. Loved ones. Speaks for itself.

I mentioned above humans as animals, which we are. Very smart animals, of course, but animals nonetheless. Do all the humans that ever lived (estimated at over 100b) get to experience this afterlife? Even those who were barely different from the animals around them, 250,000 years ago? Do all the animals have an afterlife? A snail? A bacteria?

It just doesn't add up, man. You can continue to believe it but there is just no reason to. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I don't believe it's 50/50 at all. You can't just come up with a proposition like that and automatically claim it's 50% possible to be correct. You need evidence to bolster that claim.



EDIT: I guess what i'm trying to say is your hope for an afterlife is totally understandable given the stark nature of the human condition. But just because it's understandable, doesn't mean it's the truth. It means your emotions and desperate want of continued life (again, understandable), has affected your rational and logical functions.

For more information on "believing in something just in case/because i hope", a really old argument called "Pascal's wager" -- I've seen you post this line of thought before. I really think reading about a categorization for the type of belief system you have really helps one think more clearly on the matter, specifically honestly reading criticisms of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager

Mr. Blonde 12-21-2012 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by THEINCREDIBLEdork (Post 432685)
"I don't think about it" pretty much sums up how I feel about it.

Afterlife aside, this is what most interests me about death -- how most people spend very little time thinking about it, both out of necessity and/or out of the sheer inability to do anything about it.

Repug sent me Tolstoy's A Confession for Secret Santa once when I was in Korea, and even though Tolstoy ended up taking the emotional and simplistic way out, religiously, something he wrote has always stuck with me about the human condition:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leo Tolstoy
There is an Eastern fable, told long ago, of a traveler overtaken on a plain by an enraged beast. Escaping from the beast he gets into a dry well, but sees at the bottom of the well a dragon that has opened its jaws to swallow him. And the unfortunate man, not daring to climb out lest he should be destroyed by the enraged beast, and not daring to leap to the bottom of the well lest he should be eaten by the dragon, seizes a twig growing in a crack in the well and clings to it. His hands are growing weaker and he feels he will soon have to resign himself to the destruction that awaits him above or below, but still he clings on. Then he sees that two mice, a black one and a white one, go regularly round and round the stem of the twig to which he is clinging and gnaw at it. And soon the twig itself will snap and he will fall into the dragon’s jaws. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish; but while still hanging he looks around, sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the twig, reaches them with his tongue and licks them. So I too clung to the twig of life, knowing that the dragon of death was inevitably awaiting me, ready to tear me to pieces; and I could not understand why I had fallen into such torment. I tried to lick the honey which formerly consoled me, but the honey no longer gave me pleasure, and the white and black mice of day and night gnawed at the branch by which I hung. I saw the dragon clearly and the honey no longer tasted sweet. I only saw the inescapable dragon and the mice, and I could not tear my gaze from them. This is not a fable but the real unanswerable truth intelligible to all.

The deception of the joys of life which formerly allayed my terror of the dragon now no longer deceived me. No matter how often I may be told, “You cannot understand the meaning of life, so do not think about it, but live,” I can no longer do it: I have already done it too long. I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false.

The two drops of honey which diverted my eyes from the cruel truth longer than the rest: my love of family, and of writing - art as I called it - were no longer sweet to me.


Johnny Richter 12-21-2012 09:16 PM

God I hope there are mushroom men in the sixth dimension.

f3lix 12-21-2012 10:58 PM

The nothingness is the same as it was prior to being born.

Mr. Blonde 12-21-2012 11:53 PM

At least give credit, man. In The God Delusion, Dawkins credited the quote to Mark Twain.

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

― Mark Twain


Again, some substance would be nice, instead of acting like some kind of hardasses. "Yo bro it's the same as before I was born, you know?" Doesn't cut it, and in any case it's not the same. Before you were born you didn't have to look forward to existing. The same now, death may not matter once it's happened -- but it's the waiting for it to happen that sucks.

Beebs 12-22-2012 01:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dirty Harry (Post 432684)
Does everyone here, besides myself and BDH, believe 100% that there is no existence after death? Say that within 90% ~100%.

If so, how can you be so sure? To me it seems more like 50 50. Moreover why do you want to refuse the possibility of continued, perhaps immortal, existence?

Are truth and pride really greater than hope and faith? I don't know.

Think about your dying and ceasing to exist. Try to imagine nothingness. As many of you mentioned, it brings about an unpleasant feeling. It's difficult to comprehend. It's not a good feeling. It's bad and probably bad for you.

Now, for the sake of this test, think about having continued existence after death. It doesn't have to be religious, just try to give merit to the thought that in some universe or dimension, you will continue to exist, whether or not you are consciously aware of it. This thought brings out good feelings. It makes you feel better about death. These feelings are inherently good. They are certainly healthier than the alternative, especially for the mind. Having faith in people and that everything is going to be okay also seems inherently good. Having faith about continued existence is also a good thing. What is the significance of something being good? Maybe there is a reason.

Tl;dr: DAE believe there is a somewhat strong possibility of existence after death? Faith is a good and healthy thing. What is the significance of something being good?

I find a finite life, with nothing afterword fairly comforting. It gives life more meaning to me, gives the present as much meaning as possible. If life is finite, there is importance in every second of it, and you can live it as it truly is, with no expectation or fear of something afterword.

I will die, but inherently that means I lived, without the death there isn't any sort of real concept of what life is. They are two parts of the same idea, one requires the other; the more "nothing" that death is, the more "everything" that life is.

Mr. Blonde 12-22-2012 02:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beebs (Post 432697)
I find a finite life, with nothing afterword fairly comforting. It gives life more meaning to me, gives the present as much meaning as possible. If life is finite, there is importance in every second of it, and you can live it as it truly is, with no expectation or fear of something afterword.

I will die, but inherently that means I lived, without the death there isn't any sort of real concept of what life is. They are two parts of the same idea, one requires the other; the more "nothing" that death is, the more "everything" that life is.

While I very much agree with the first part, I disagree with the second slightly. For example, if we lived in a time where immortality was possible (as i'm sure it will be, eventually), death could be treated as something entirely. "Life" still has meaning with death out of the picture, because one did not live before they came into existence.

Another interesting thing to think of is that, even if we do achieve immortality from age and disease (as a species--not us, which is sad to think about), death will still be very frequent. It's much less likely we invent invulnerability. Accidents will happen --- murders, natural disasters, explosions, new diseases, etc --- but it will still be very rare comparatively if people never get old. Interesting to think about what kind of world that might be.

All that being said, as numerous vampire and science fiction movies have told us, while I am sure many humans would take great advantage of an extended life, almost all of us would eventually tire of it and wish to die. Immortality, if it ever is achieved, will take a long, long time for humans to embrace, if ever.

f3lix 12-22-2012 10:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde (Post 432690)
At least give credit, man. In The God Delusion, Dawkins credited the quote to Mark Twain.

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

― Mark Twain


Again, some substance would be nice, instead of acting like some kind of hardasses. "Yo bro it's the same as before I was born, you know?" Doesn't cut it, and in any case it's not the same. Before you were born you didn't have to look forward to existing. The same now, death may not matter once it's happened -- but it's the waiting for it to happen that sucks.

I'll make sure I cite every post, as if I was plagiarizing ideas because I happen to share them.

Shouldn't you be posting this in High Things?

As far as living, I'll live on through those I directly effect and through my music which will hopefully survive like countless others have in the past thousand years.


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