Wow, excellent response. I enjoy these polite, yet prodding exchanges.
Hi Khethil. I always enjoy your posts.
Thank you, likewise
If you acknowledge the desire of the living to say goodbye, then why do you seem to pass over the valuable emotional utilily that these practices have for the living?
An excellent point! I don't see funeral/burial practices as completely void of emotional utility. My take on that is this: While embalming, prepping (pretty-ing) and waving goodbye to the visible body does give some sense of closure. In my opinion, the good that these give can't equal the damage it does
(in terms of (1) the warped sense of the process of death (hard to quantify), (2) waste of resources (very quantifiable), (3) not allowing the decomposition process to proceed in a direct/natural way (admittedly whimsical, don't shoot me!) and (4) the irksome result of feeding a bloated and grossly overpriced
industry. I accept that many of us feel this is all worth it; and that's fine. It just rubs me wrong
So you don't seem to care what happens to your body after you're dead...
: Although I didn't really delineat this. I do care. My desires are to: First have all donatable organs distributed; Secondly, donate what remains to any resource repositories in need of human tissue -and- Finally, toss what's left in a hole somewhere. Not that this has any real bearing on what you've brought up (but I do so like expressing those decisions I'm proud of <beam>)
... great, but what if being embalmed, dressed up, put into a nice coffin, and being given a "proper" burial is what would make those that you've left behind feel better, and more able to move on with their lives after it's done? Well, in my experience this seems to be the case. As Didymos noted "funerals are for the living". Do you begrudge them this point? Will you insist in your will that you not be given a "proper" burial in spite of the emotional impact this may have on your loved ones?
All good points:
- Conceded: Yes I agree such rituals do help the living (see above); but again, I don't think what's gained is worth the payoff and loss in other areas.
- Naw, I don't begrudge folks for wanting this. At the risk of being holier-than-thou, I believe that if we were more enlightened, practical and closer to the nature of moral human existence, we'd place more value in the practical aspects.
- Regarding the Emotional Impact of my "Practical" Solution: Is it better we dress up and pretty the process or perhaps could it be that it's better - emotionally - that we accept death for what it is?  While I've conceded there is emotional benefit in these rituals, who's to say that once we've shed these practices; emotionally, we wouldn't be better off. I can't immediately quantify this, but I think it deserves pondering.
I also think that going through a lot of trouble to bury somebody can be seen as the biggest showing of respect a person can be given. Talk about non-reciprocal altruism...
Altrustic to give to a dead person? That's not them... it's a body. [INDENT]Now if one believes the Spirit and Body are separate, it's likely that spirit has "moved on" - so we're not giving to the deceased.
[/INDENT][INDENT]If, on the other hand, we believe the consciousness is contained within the body's tissue then that consciousness (that "person") is also no longer functioning in that body; in which case, again we're not "giving" to the person.
[/INDENT]I'm not sure the idea that burial rituals = altrustic-giving
stands to reason regardless of metaphysical/theological view. Is it altruistic to give to a side of beef, broken bicycle or chuck of concrete?
"I'm doing this for you and your memory even though I know full well that you are unable to repay me for it."
Although I reject the idea that burial = altruism to the dead. I agree on the subtle benefit this sentiment. That comes from a good place and a giving heart (regardless of the brutal reality of the situation).
Regardless or your beliefs on dualism, I think most humans do associate other human's bodies with them as people. It's more than "just a shell", but the image of how you will always remember that person in your mind, so I think it makes sense to want to treat the bodies of the dead with respect, even if to a degree it is only symbolically.
Nice point. I don't think it mitigates or dismisses anything I've said, but I like it. And if I can play my own devil's advocate (just cuz I'm flaky like that), one might even posit that showing respect to a perceived person helps has the collateral benefit of shoring-up respect for those living
. Nice twist
... when an exorbitant amount of money is spent on the process that becomes prohibitive to the needs of the living. Then, I do think that things can get a little ridiculous, and unfortunately often do, for reasons that I assume often have to do with capitalism...
Yep, definately with you there. Within a culture whose god-in-practice is the almighty buck (read: Capitalism Run Amuck) we'll sell anything, make a profit off anyone and insert enough levels of middlemen to make even the most greedy go cross-eyed. Yep, we'll even sell you your corpse back! Ugh... so embarassing... may I go sit in the corner now?
... most people don't care that much what happens to their body once their dead, and all the funeral proceedings really do turn out to be more for the living than for the dead.
Yea, true enough. Based on my perspective, my values and that which I see as best I say: It's not worth it! If I step back a bit and acknowledge benefits I can understand - but don't agree with, I say: Feeling good is good enough; if that makes you happy and helps you deal with this pain then by all means, proceed with my blessing.
Thanks again for a well-considered and coherent response!
 Much of this is not quantifiable, some of it is emotionally-based. Despite this, I think there's enough rational support to give it consideration. Not all things of worth can be measured, tabulated and placed in Bill's Logic Table or Sally's Spreadsheet
 This is part-and-parcel to a basic flaw lying at the foundation of many of humanity's problem: That we're somehow above - not an integral part - of this planet. The instant we put ourselves "above" the previous symbiotic view of "nature" - in that moment - we set ourselves on a very bad path. Although just a correlary point to the issue of burial, one can hopefully see the connection, and perhaps utility in that symbiosis, of "returning" to the soil.
 I'm not advocating we let folks die in place; rot on their sofas or toss them out on the street. Let's not take my suggestion to absurd levels (not to mention levels that put the public health at risk).
 ... although it wouldn't surprise me an iota if there were views out there could support this.