Everywhere in the world people are afraid of death so much that if anything bad or scaring is about to happen, it will take a few seconds for all the people to disappear from that place. This is fear of death and any danger that threatens life possessed by humans.
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However, there are several arguments by philosophers which challenge this attitude towards death. For example, the argument that we are not harmed by our own death is put across by Epicurean, a well known philosopher.
According to him, death does not harm an individual or their relatives as it is perceived by many people. For that reason, people should not have any fear of death as it lacks a direct effect on them.
To begin with, he gives an argument of the death nature in relation to our lives and humanity in general. His assumption is that death of an individual is the end of his existence both soul and body, making the effect of death inconsequential to his dead body.
In his argument, he wonders how death can be bad to a person when they are not there and consequently can not feel anything. As a result, people should not be afraid of death as this creates the feeling of desperation, which causes anguish that may otherwise be avoided (Craig 1998:p121).
According to Epicurean, death should be treated as nothing because everything we perceive as bad or good is a result of our personal experience. Intrinsically, this capacity to experience or the ability to develop is what death deprives an individual of.
It should be treated as nothing because during one’s life, nobody understands death until it comes. Furthermore, at this time, a person is dispossessed of his ability to experience death.
In his argument, he makes use of an example of two friends where one of them travels to space and their communication through a phone stops 20 minutes after his departure.
To make it worse, he is expected to come back after 100 years And within this period of time the friend who is left behind will probably die. He feels bad for the death of his friend but if the person is dead he no longer exists and therefore does not feel the resulting pain.
To avoid confusion, we only consider the death and not the process of dying. It is nothing to the friend who is alive because he has not experienced it and therefore has no explanation. However, the living may challenge this based on the pain and grief they feel when a close relative or a friend dies (Craig 1998:p151).
To explain his non existing assumption of death to both the living and the dead, Epicurean suggests a theory of death where it has completely different way of affecting us and there is no direct effect like a sting. Such that, when a person dies he loses existence and all the nice benefits that come with it.
This is the effect of death which takes away lives and it is called the deprivation account, which is supported by the fact that at that point a deceased loses his or her life while the living loses a close person. The loss to the two individuals makes their loss equal and neutral.
In our day-to-day life, time is considered to be a major factor when defining a fact, an occurrence or an event. To improve on the credibility of something that should be proved, the time of occurrence should be specific. In this case, if death is horrific to an individual then when do its effects impact on them?
It is assumed that the moment he or she dies, at this time, this person does not exist and, therefore, is not present to feel all the effects. The consequences will be there but they will not be felt by the deceased because he or she ceased to exist. His absence makes the effect of death to be meaningless to him/her (Craig 1998:p51).
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In addition, we have the non-existence requirement suggested by Epicurean. It is supported by the fact that sometimes death may occur to the unborn babies. In this case, the fetus never gets a chance to grow into a human being and it dies while in its mother’s womb.
In life the case can be bad for you only if you were present and therefore went through its effects at that instant when it was happening. As such, in this case is the fetus at the time of its death and has not came to existence as a person yet.
As a result, the death cannot be bad to someone who has never actually lived at the occasion of its occurrence. This clearly explains that death does not harm the dead person (Edwards 2002:P575).
Following the argument above, there is even more proving that death lacks any effect on both the dead and the living. When a person dies it means he or she has no life anymore and the body is just like a plant or a piece of tree cut down. That is why they are called ‘the deceased’.
However, this dead person is supposed to be somehow feeling the death but in reality the person is not there. It is clear that death is in its own and does not have any directly present effects on the non-existing dead (Edwards 2002:P530).
It is also impossible to prolong life and the things that make it enjoyable due to the interference of death which cuts short all the delight that we get from life. Furthermore, enjoying life for a shorter time is considered similar to enjoying it for a longer time as the two instances derive similar satisfaction before death takes place.
This is referred to as a notion of indifference as there is a lack of extreme benefits in living a longer life from the assumption of the state of aponia and ataraxia (Kagan 2012:p650).
Accordingly, it is clear that death is an obliteration that only takes place but in the way that is beyond human understanding. As, its effect can only be felt by the living through the perception they have about it.
However, it lacks a direct link with the dead person due to his absence. Furthermore, it cannot be directly linked to the living in the reality apart from the fear it creates on people.
It can be good if people would stop worrying about it and change their perception. This will save them from the anguish and desperation it causes, while reducing on their grief after a close person’s death (Kagan 2012:p635).
Craig, E 1998, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Routledge publishers, London.
Edwards, E 2002, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan, London.
Kagan, S 2012, Death, Yale University Press, New Heaven.