Tuesday 13 January 2015

Death as an existential fact

Secular modernity has some limited awareness of death as a psychological fact - how we cope with death in terms of not allowing the fact to force us into despair, or how to maintain optimism or hope in the face of death.

Another strategy is to try and extend life - to hold out the promise of not dying by continuing to stay alive - the main function of this discourse in practice is to calm panic, to allay worry, to soothe the anxious mind.

There are also assertions that death is no more painful than falling asleep, that it is a rest, that since we are not around after our death there is nothing to worry about - all of these mantras work (if they work) at the psychological level.


None of them grasp the existential fact of death - the fact that if death is what modern secular culture says it is - a switching of, and extinction of the self, so that nothing remains; then this is something that goes far beyond whether we are calm and happy about the prospect.

Modern Man thinks that existential facts have no reality apart from what we happen to be currently feeling about them - so that if we ensure we never think about the implications of annihilative death, then the problem has been solved!


The existential fact is that if we are annihilated at death, then life (before death) is also annihilated. If existence is annihilated at any point, then all meaning and purpose, all happiness and suffering are annihilated at all points - and all of psychology is simply a delusion.

Life is made into a transient delusion.


If psychology is the bottom line, then all order, understanding, perception is delusion; and (since psychology is regarded as dependent and brain functioning) a temporary, a fleeting delusion.

So the existential fact of modern metaphysics is that it regards everything as a delusion, and infers from that that our task in life is to ensure the current delusion is at least a pleasant one.

Not that it really matters much, since it will soon be replaced by another delusion.

No wonder that all modern secular societies are psychotic! Insane beliefs, laws and polices are merely a reflection of the underling metaphysical convictions.


See also: http://www.jrganymede.com/2015/01/13/death-hey-look-squirrel/


Adam G. said...



I think when people insist that a final death doesn't make their lives meaningless, they are unconsciously imagining an outside observer to whom their lives still matter. But without God, there is no such outside observer.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Adam - Yes.

I am beginning to think that the simple offer of eternal incarnated life in Heaven is the core message of Christianity (from which all else of importance is derived); rather than being a rather embarrassing, naive, wishful, childish or 'Medieval' kind of thing - as it has been regarded by intellectuals for many generations.

Of course, Mormonism already knows this.

But modern people are so very deeply confused and bemused by pride, that they cannot even get straight what was blazingly obvious to the meanest intelligence of the past: death is the negation of life.

pyrrhus said...

Western society has become truly insane, and quite depraved, as you frequently point out. I can tolerate it since this is only one of many lives for our immortal souls, and we can only try to live a valid life.