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Death Perspectives in Epicurus’ Theory Essay

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Updated: Jul 13th, 2022

Death has always been one of the greatest mysteries for people as it is impossible to cognize it. The interest in this topic is evidenced by the existence of multiple works offered by different philosophers and ideas formulated to speculate about death and its role in the development and functioning of societies. Starting with the assumptions that fear of this phenomenon is one of the most important stimuli in the life of people and ending with the suggestions that death is not bad for the deceased, thinkers tried to formulate their own vision of this concept and explain the role it plays in human society. The diversity in people’s thinking patterns preconditioned the emergence of various theories, which might even oppose each other. Thus, Epicurus’ idea and deprivation theory view death from different angles; however, it seems that the ancient philosopher’s idea is more relevant as it offers the logical reasoning for central assumptions.

Epicurus formulated his own unique vision, which became popular among his followers. He stated that death could not be bad for the deceased as he does not experience it. This idea comes from the statement that something can be bad for a person only if he/she feels it, while death is experiential blank (Fisher, 2019). However, the deprivation theory does not accept this premise and claims it is false. Following this theory, death is the harm of deprivation, presupposing lack, loss, or absence of some future goods (Fisher, 2019). At the same time, people deprived of things valuable for them try to acquire them joining some movements or struggling for some privileges (Fisher, 2019). For this reason, deprivation theory does not agree with the reasoning offered by Epicurus.

One of the central objectives implied by the given framework is that deceased people cannot enjoy all benefits of life available for other people. From this perspective, death is worse when it deprives people of many good years, meaning that it is worse the earlier it occurs (Murphy, n.d.). Because the desire to have multiple advantages and live a full life is one of the basic ones for every human being, the complete inability to acquire various things is a dramatic loss for every person, and he/she views it as a bad thing. Furthermore, following the deprivation theory, the fear of death, or the fear of being unable to enjoy all good things, motivates people to move further and evolve (Fisher, 2019). For this reason, Epicurus’s idea is rejected by the deprivation theory and is viewed as an inappropriate one.

Furthermore, Epicurus explains his logic by the statement that something can be bad for a person only if he/she experiences it at some time. This assumption contradicts the deprivation theory, which offers the perspective that not the possession but the inability to possess a certain object serves as the source of all anxiety and unhappiness in a person’s life (Fisher, 2019). For this reason, when an individual lacks something, he/she becomes concerned with it and acquires to desire to get this very item. Following this idea, the permission offered by Epicurus cannot be accepted by deprivation theorists and serves as the source of debates about the nature of death and its perception by a deceased and people around. It also leads to the attempts to refute Epicurus’ theory.

Although deprivation theorists offer their explanation of their statement, I disagree with it. A person suffers from the impossibility to use and enjoy some things only if he/she can have strong feelings and regret about something. However, death presupposes cessation of the ability to feel and have sufferings because of the inability to acquire new experiences or things. Under these conditions, deprivation theory can be applicable to many other concepts but only if a person saves his/her capability of feeling and having an attachment. It means that close people might feel suffering or other strong emotions because of the death of a person; however, for a deceased, it cannot be bad. IN such a way, Epicurus’ theory seems more relevant and grounded as there is solid reasoning and explanation of the logic preceding formulation of this statement.

Altogether, death is one of the greatest mysteries that have always played a fundamental role in the life of people. Its fear is one of the motivations to live and struggle, while the attitude to it differs regarding the approach used by theorists to cogitate about it. Epicurus’ idea that death is not bad for a deceased one is opposed by the deprivation theory assuming that inability to use benefits is critical for a dead person. Comparing these two frameworks, it is possible to state that the first one seems more grounded as death means the inability to feel, think and feel regret. That is why a person cannot be upset because of the impossibility to use some objects valued by society. That is why Epicurus’ idea that death is not a bad thing for the deceased should be considered as a more logical one.

References

Fisher, J. (2019). Death, immortality, and meaning in life. Oxford University Press.

Murphy, J. (n.d.). Rationality and the fear of death. Philosop. Web.

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