Wednesday 20 July 2022

"Where do we come from, where do we go?" Understanding whether "death" is a good, or bad, thing

Deeper, even, than the mystery of Cotton-eyed Joe, is the question of "Where do we come from, where do we go?" with respect to "death".

And, immediately, we must put scare-quotes around death; because whether the end of "biological-life" is good or bad, entails a choice between radically different conceptions of what "death" means. 

To the atheist mainstream, death is the end of everything that constitutes a person - body and mind (because there is no 'soul' nor anything equivalent). But an alternative conception - that which I will use here, is that death is the severance of soul from body

Okay - but the significance of such a severance of soul from body depends on our understanding of what the soul is severed-from, and what happens afterwards. My understanding is that the soul is eternal and of-itself indestructible (although it can be changed) - but the body from which it is severed at "death" is mortal; and therefore subject to 'entropy' (meaning the innate tendency to change, corruption, disease, decay.... and death. 

What this means is that, since we are mortal, death is the culmination of a process - and therefore inevitable. Death - of itself - is neither good nor bad; whether good or bad depends on what-happens-next. 

...We can immediately see that most discussions of death are ill-formed questions; because they treat all deaths as one, and the value of each death as representative of every death. 

(This common but ill-formed question is typical of the way that the evil powers of this world attempt to make an answerable-question into an insoluble paradox-mystery; and channel thought into false dichotomies.) 

Instead, the reality is that deaths have extremely different - even opposite - values, according to what went before ("where did he come from?"); and to what-next ("where did he go?").

The value of a particular death therefore depends on the mortal life from which it is approached, and the immortal life to which is is a transition. 

And these valuations are questions of metaphysics - ultimate, primary, intuitive (or externally-/ passively-absorbed) assumptions concerning the nature of reality (and not matters for empirical investigation - they can neither be addressed nor resolved by 'science' nor any other such kind of investigation). 

And indeed each death is, potentially, unique insofar as the exact and specific next-steps following severance of the soul from the body may be distinctive to each individual soul. 

To summarize - a particular person's death may be good or bad because of what went before and what comes after. 

We can sometimes, to some degree, influence these for others... but we can certainly make a decisive difference for ourselves to whether our death is good, or not. 

And, indeed, this is an inescapable responsibility for anyone capable of formulating the question of death. 

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