I DON’T THINK I’m that old. I mean, I know I’m not young, but I’m not old either.
I’m young enough to know who BTS is, but old enough to write a blog post about Paul McCartney.
I did, by the way. Write a blog post. About Paul McCartney. Check it out.
I think it’s pretty good.
I’ve got enough years on me that I’ve lived through the deaths of a few of my idols. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard Kurt Cobain died.
Ok. Wow. That dates me.
I heard the news while listening to the Rush Limbaugh Show. Yeah, I know. I was young. I did a lot of dumb shit when I was a kid.
Although I’ve lived through the deaths of some favorite celebrities and a few people I actually know, I’ve been kinda Stoic on the subject of death: I know it happens. I know it’s eventually going to happen to me. And I know there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
So why get upset about it, right?
I’ve been mostly chill about our collective shrugging off of this mortal coil and joining thd choir invisible, but every once in awhile one just kinda gets to me.
Ok, at this point, I’m gonna need to do a bit of exposition. And please excuse any inappropriate levity. Making light of serious stuff is a coping mechanism.
So, politically speaking, I tend to lean to the Left (I do philosophy and I’m a Leftie — BIG SHOCK). As a Left-leaning, philosophically-inclined person, I’m (somewhat unsurprizingly) a fan of Majority Report. And, like many fans of the show, I was listening to Sam Seder and company during that show —
You know, I usually can wave off death with a shrug, but Michael Brooks’ death got to me. It’s been almost a year since and it’s still kinda weird watching the show and reminding myself that the reason why there’s no Right-wing Mandela or Nation of Islam Obama is because Michael is… dead.
As a philosopher, I’m bothered that it still bothers me.
Socrates said (in Phaedo) that philosophy is a “training for death”. You see, according to Socrates, the soul is immortal. We must train ourselves to separate the immortal soul from the corporeal body.
Wait. Corporeal body may be redundant. Sorry.
See, our bodies, according to Socrates, are driven by carnal (i.e. lower)desires. The soul’s purpose, on the other hand, is higher. That is, our souls’ purpose is to release the corrupted physical body and join the realm of Truth (Forms and all that jazz). Philosophy, Socrates says, trains us how to free our soul from our bodies. Socrates says:
Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death. If this is true, and they have actually been looking forward to death all their lives, it would of course be absurd to be troubled when the thing comes for which they have so long been preparing and looking forward. (Phaedo, 63e)
So… if we’re living our lives Socratically, we should not fear or be bothered by the inevitability of our own demise. The philosophically-oriented should want to get rid of our imperfect material meat suits.
Hey, not endorsing suicide here. Just paraphrasing Socrates… who committed suicide.
Although Socrates is the father of Western Philosophy, he’s not the only (or even definitive) philosophical opinion on death.
LISTEN: Not every philosopher thinks death is a good thing.
Thomas Nagel (b. 1937) states that death, no matter the circumstances, is always an evil. Death, according to Nagel, is an evil because dying permanently deprives us of our ability to participate in activities of life.
You can’t enjoy a yummy plate of nachos supreme if you’re dead.
And that’s a bad thing.
Even if your life sucks, Nagel argues, it’s better to live than to die.
Ok. Nagel goes much deeper into asking what harm is death in his book Mortal Questions. You can read the section “Death” here: http://dbanach.com/death.htm
Death is bad because death is deprivation.
As Socratically as I’ve attempted to live my life, I hate the fact that my cat is going to die. I dread the inevitable deprivation of her companionship.
Epicurus believed that death doesn’t harm the person who dies because death is merely a return to a state on non-existence. You can’t experience anything, harmful or good, if you’d don’t exist.
Just throwing that out there…
Now, as a lover of wisdom, I had accepted the inevitability of death. I’m not gonna say I’m eager to be rid of my flesh prison, but I’m not not comfortable with death — both mine and the people I know. However, I’m still bothered that certain people have died (and will die).
It’s still weird listening to Majority Report. Something is missing. Something I know will never come back.
I realize my thoughts on death may be more Nagelian than Socratic.
I don’t know what I’m going to do about that.