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Why does one fear death?

  1. Sep 16, 2005 #1
    First, there are no religion specifics here anywhere. It is simply a question by philosophical reasoning.

    To me and many others, this seems the most important question that one can make a decision on, in duration of their life. And I have not seen this type of question in here yet. And I would like to ask, do you fear death? If you do, why? Because of uncertainty? Well let me ask you this.

    While assuming (using logically reasoning) that there are two possible paths after death, one being that you cease to exist, the other being able to think without being "alive"....

    Hypothetically, someone does not believe in a creator. He believes he will cease to exist and not be able to think any longer once his body disintegrates from functioning. Logically, he should not fear death, and any entity with this given fate should not fear death.

    The other path, being that you think outside of the universe. There is another "fork" in the road (assuming many religions are correct). A path of great happiness, etc. Or a place to feel only pain and seperation from our creator.

    So, what have you done to cope with the inherent uncertainty with your inevitable death? What kind of philosophical thought process have you done to make that decision.

    This topic seems most relevant.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2005 #2
    I would even go further than that. I believe most of our behaviour is driven by our attitude towards death. Which only seems logical, since death is the only certainty we have.

    Through most of human history, death was seen as a natural part of life. In our modern "scientific" age, death is an embarassing reminder that progress doesn't mean much, so people avoid the subject like the plague.

    I was once on an airplane and something happened which made everyone aboard think we were about to crash. It was the most dramatic moment in my life. During the episode I only had two thoughts: "so this is how my life will end, that's interesting" and "I feel so sorry for my wife, she's going to become a widow at such a young age". Never for a moment I felt afraid of what would happen to me.

    It seems almost everyone who comes close to death realizes there's nothing to fear. I think the so-called fear of death is actually the fear of something entirely different.

    Well, I have three life-insurance policies; that takes care of all problems that can be taken care of. The other problems are not up to me so I don't have to worry about those either.

    Really, the best way I found to cope with uncertainty is to realize I don't have to worry about it. If it is something I can control, it's not uncertain; if I can't control, there's no point worrying about. But I didn't come to understand that easily, it took me years and years.

    I don't think it can be called philosophy, I just tried to learn about as many things as I could. And religion was the subject that gave me the best understanding of life, that helped me understand why I don't have to worry about many things. But religion is a difficult subject, you either get it or you don't, it can't be explained. Even though I have in a way or another been religious all my life, it was only in recent years that I really understood what it is about, and why it is the most important subject one has to learn in life.
  4. Sep 16, 2005 #3
    "To die would be an awfully big adventure" - Peter Pan :biggrin:
  5. Sep 16, 2005 #4
    One fears death as surely as another seeks it. One fearing death is just what one does, others do differently and dance with death on a daily basis. One must keep death entertained, or else death will ask for a more substantive contribution.
  6. Sep 17, 2005 #5
    Death is a thing I've thought a lot about in my existential stage..
    I'm still kind of afriad of dying, not being dead though.
    It doesn't sound too pleasant to lie there feeling your heart stopping, your breath taken away from you and life sucked out of you..
    However I hear when you die the brain releases a chemical I can't remember the name of, and it's supposed to be the best high ever.
    That could only be a rumor though.

    I don't fear being dead, I don't remember much from before i was born, because I wasn't conscious ;P
    However, what I fear the most is losing my loved ones, and losing the ability to live.
    For example I don't like the idea of never being conscious again, ever in infinity.
    Which means I have about 80 years(am I lucky) in the entire existence of the universe, to do my thing.
    This is so infinitely small it's not even funny.
    So I can do 2 things, 1. contribute to the furthering of society so my name can be remembered through the ages, and 2. live a full life where I accomplish all my goals and do everything I want to do with my life.

    That's pretty much all I can do, while I'm here.
    On that note, I'll just say I'm so immensely grateful for being born, and being able to be conscious in this universe, and I'd much rather be alive and go through the process of dying, than to never have been alive to begin with, which helps a lot and makes me not so scared of death.
  7. Sep 17, 2005 #6
    Death does not exist as a thing. Only life exists as a thing. A thing that does not exist cannot be feared. When you die you have loss of a thing called life, not the gain of a thing called death.
  8. Sep 18, 2005 #7
    Well, we all fear big things that happen to us, in general. Death is a pretty big deal if you ask me. A rather traumatic experience for sure. It's the most important thing that ever happens to someone besides being born. Death should be feared (not afraid of necessarily, just feared) by every living thing.
  9. Sep 18, 2005 #8
    Perhaps just sematics or I am looking at this topic too abstractly, but "death" should not be feared, but I would agree that "loss of life" may be feared (but may not--some for example hasten the process--called suicide). My point is: "death" does not = "loss of life", they differ fundamentally, the second exists as a thing, the first does not. The initial post asked if I fear death--I do not--and I am not sure if I fear "loss of life", it sort of goes with the saying "s--- happens". :yuck:
  10. Sep 19, 2005 #9
    I disagree Rade.
    Death is something, it's the end of life, but it's also a process, namely dying.
    SO it doesn't really matter how you put it, because after you lose your life, you are dead.

    If you want to go really deep, you can say that death itself is a state.
    The lungs shut down, the heart stops and the brain ceases to be conscious, but the body and all its objects is still there, meaning the body has changed from one state to another.
    Meaning.. The body was alive and is now dead.

    It's pure semantics subjectively if you want to say "loss of life" or "death".
  11. Sep 19, 2005 #10
    I think the reason one fears death is that it was coded into us biologically. Just like many other natural instincts that a human has, fearing death is just one of them. Making us fear death is natures way of forcing us to avoid it.
  12. Sep 22, 2005 #11
    heres a question for you all, would you want to live forever? and the fear of death i a big fear of the unknown, just like a job interview for the first time, or going to a new school, the difference is you have some one who has been there and done that telling you it would be ok. You will find the more spiritual a person is, the less they fear death, when the time comes, the time comes.... all science needs is an electronic device to speak to the dead and find out!!!!
  13. Sep 24, 2005 #12


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    I'll second that, adding that I do not think the big world religions threatening with Hell for eternety if one does not believe; it certaintly haven't helped.

    There are though, people who take death very camly,

    see www.exit.ch (You got to read swiss-german to understand it, it is a suicide clinic.)
  14. Sep 24, 2005 #13
    Its the fear of the unknown.

    Some people reason that they are not scared because everyone must face the same fate. Using this line of reasoning, a person should not be scared of being slowly tortured to death if everyone is tortured to death.
  15. Sep 24, 2005 #14
    I am afraid to die because I truly value living. I believe once I am gone my universe is gone. The universe may still exist, but to me it is gone completely. I will no longer be able to think. I just can't imagine nothing. The closest thing I can relate it to is sleeping, but even that is far from the mark. An eternal sleep of emptiness even my thoughts cannot penetrate.

    I believe anyone who values thier life should fear death. If you don't fear death you will be careless. Careless like the idiots I see on my way to work every morning driving with little regard for anyone much less themselves. I care about my life and other lives around me. I sit back and think about people, about thier daily lives and the people they care about.

    I had an interesting scenario happen to me just yesterday. I met a couple friends at Caesarland with thier kids. I happened to get there when they were about to leave. We decided to head over to a park. We get outside to my friends car and some guy in a truck parked a little slanted. Mind you this was a very minor inconvenience. My friend just blew up saying stuff like "I should key the shyt outta this car." I had to tell her to calm down and realize what she was saying. She didn't care about that other persons life at all. She blatantly wanted to ruin the guys property over a slight parking mishap that didn't hurt anybody. I had to give her a long speech on over reacting lol.

    That kind of mentality really frustrates me. I know a lot of people get bent out of shape over the most ridiculous stuff. Little things make people risk thier lives or damage others lives. It is insane, but that is the mentality in this day and age.
  16. Sep 25, 2005 #15


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    This kind of mentaility you can find in upper and upper-middle class people. They think they are relative kings, anyone wasting there time or irretates them should have a grusome punishment, just as a king did when met disrespect in the midages.
  17. Sep 25, 2005 #16
    I find among the philosophical community it is cool or trendy not to fear death...
  18. Sep 25, 2005 #17
    I have noticed that too :eek: Why do you think this is so?
  19. Sep 25, 2005 #18

    I am not sure. I am studying philosophy at university and this is the message I get from my fellow students as well as faculty...
  20. Sep 26, 2005 #19
    I think they like to believe they have all the answers.
  21. Sep 27, 2005 #20
    Why does one fear death?
    'Fear', of anything, is born of ignorance.

    I explain what I mean below. Before going off 'half-cocked' please take the time to read my explanation. Argue that if you choose... This doesnt adequately state my opinion, after further thought. Hence, the 'below'.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2005
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