I think you’ve come full circle on you “phantom pain” argument but that’s neither here nor there.
Correct me if I’m wrong but your central thesis seems to be that dying is always
a painful process, and so your unequivocal answer to the original question: “What does it feel like at the last moments before you die?”
is “Very painful.”
Your reasoning seems to be something to the effect of
a) The body reacts to injuries with pain
b) Death is the culmination of sufficiently seriously injuries
c) Death must be accompanied by pain
I’m not sure though how you square this with the fact that people do not always report they are in pain moments before they die.
At one point you seemed to suggest that this a questionable fact to begin with and anyone who has sat with someone who has died will know that to be the case.
Unfortunately, for you argument, you have not been with everyone as they died, and I have been with at least two people who, moments before they died, reported that they were not in pain.
For you to hold fast to your thesis you would seem to have to believe:
a) I am lying or mistaken
b) The dying people who told me they were not in pain were lying or mistaken
I suppose both (a) and (b) are possible (with the exception that I don’t think someone can be mistaken about being in pain. You are either in pain or not.), but if that’s what you think we could save ourselves some time if you would state it.
It is, admittedly, unreliable but most people who observe a zebra that is being devoured alive by a pack of hyenas don’t see or hear any indications that the animal is in any pain, let alone the sort of agony we would expect to be caused by having one’s body consumed by several large carnivores.
I suppose someone could concoct an experiment that indicated whether there was electrical activity in those sections of the zebra’s brain that are associated with the perception of pain, during its last moments of life within the jaws of the pack, but I’m not sure that this alone would prove the animal was experiencing pain. Perhaps others on A2K can comment on the reliability of such tests.
In any case, without some measurements of brain activity and the like, we are left with what we perceive, and most people do not perceive the animals to be in pain. Of course, even if this case is true, it doesn’t mean that the zebra is experiencing bliss or of much of anything at all besides utter exhaustion.
I have no idea if the same phenomenon occurs when a human being is being eaten alive by a pack of animals or by individual creatures. I’ve not seen footage of such an occurrence nor do I ever want to but it must be out there and someone has seen it.
But we don’t need to see people being brought down by wolves to determine if they can die without being in pain. We can ask them; as they are dying.
I can’t explain exactly why a person might be pain free at death, or what the physical mechanism might be that would allow it, but I certainly don’t think it’s because the body has “decided” there’s no further point in sending pain signals to the brain. Even if that were the case, the fact would remain the person died without being in pain.
I do know, personally, of two cases where a dying person reported that he or she was not in pain, only moments before life left. That’s enough to convince me.