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If you are afraid of non-existence, why is this so?

 
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2011 09:39 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
David, you possibly remain on subject?
Well, I am AFRAID of taxes,
except those that r NON-existent!!!

Is that better?





David
0 Replies
 
RexRed
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 12:52 am
Humans spend millions of years evolving and trying to "survive" and it is no wonder the residual of that will be dreams of eternity.
0 Replies
 
Ashers
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 05:33 am
I think mostly this question is of how to live now. To me it's inextricably linked with a sense of self-realisation. I am but the question of of what if I'm not guides us to how we should be. I'm struck by the quiet repose that some gain in later life from a life well lived. If at some point we can say, "I'm ready", I sense it is precisely because of the state this "I" is brought forth in which is a reflection of what we've done in life, both intenally and externally. There's completion to the life narrative as it were.

Nevertheless, I am action and I don't think I can relate to non-existence, as it is in actuality. But it seems to be the nature of I to try to relate so relation to non-existence becomes a perversion. Rather than the unconscious of sleep, it is envisaged more as a sci-fi/fantasy style scenario of perhaps a consciousness that is divorced from the world, like a ghost that can move about and experience but not connect with what is most dear. Like the idea that people are going on without us, "oh it's a shame about so-and-so etc", but I'm right here! Please see me, please acknowledge me etc. This latent anxiety might not be especially conscious to the individual of course.

Having watched the remainder of that discussion with the late Hitchens and co, I was especially struck by the question of what an atheist can offer the dying or the bereaved. What came to mind is the account Carl Sagan's wife has given us:

Quote:
When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful… . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.


This feeling may not be especially helpful to someone on a deathbed that cannot in some way, come to terms with themself. But it allows for the possibility of coming to terms with oneself by means of what we have rather than what we don't. Even if those "haves" form a relatively meagre list by the standards of another. That is besides the point because nobody can die for you.

Some believers turn the problem around by suggesting we perhaps rid ourselves of the anxiety of "rushing for completion" before the bell tower tolls because there already is a wider meaning that encompasses us that is apart from our efforts but can only be realised through them. So then it is not a question of this life not mattering because there is something beyond it but rather everything in this life matters as a means of understanding that there is something beyond it. I discount neither approach in and of itself but respect those who are genuine in an acknowledgement of "the human problem".
0 Replies
 
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 05:47 am
Quote:
I'm wondering if people who are fearful of nothingness after death imagine that they will EXPERIENCE this? Or is it something about not existing that really worries you, even though you know that you'll not be experiencing it?

We can imagine all we like about non-existence; whether or not we'll experience anything is pure speculation, even to those who may have physically been dead and been revived. It's the coming back alive part that negates the true experience of non-existence. But it is paradoxical to say that non-existence is a experience and impossible to even arrive at the truth of the matter and be alive to speak about it.

Why people are fearful about nothingness itself is perhaps down to being attached to attachments. I personally do not understand this, but I'd say the fear is a by product of the 'thought' and reality of non-existence due to attachments in life. These attachments would perhaps be the things most dearest to a person and are self evident to that person that these things are worth clingling to life for. Therefore, a person not wanting to leave behind their attachments in life might be afraid that one day they will have to die and leave it behind. So, I don't think it is fear of dying or non-existence that is the main drive of the anxiety (but is part of it), rather it is not being able to see those people dearest to you and the thought of that makes people emotional.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 09:03 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Non-existence is looking pretty cool right about now.
HA! I love it.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 02:27 pm
@failures art,
Quote:
Thanks for typing that out so I could cut and paste it. Brave words for a person with a neighborly relationship with death. They are words that I think can calm others.


Yes, one of the most impressive aspects of his participation in that discussion was his equanimity in the face of death, a death that he must of known was coming soon. It speaks volumes about his integrity.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 02:37 pm
@dlowan,
We've got to give David credit for not giving a damn (like Setanta) what people think of him (the difference is that Set does have admirable qualities, which, of course, do not make up for his obnoxious "indifference").
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 03:16 pm
@JLNobody,
So what's up with you lately . . . are you hoping to get a shot in to which i will react with anger? How very pathetic of you.
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 03:21 pm
It's not so much "If you are afraid of non-existence, why is this so?" as it is the inherent drive to survive. I suggest that one of the consequences of the inherent drive to survive, is the fear of death.

I further suggest that all living creatures share this inherent drive to survive, at least on the level of the species, if not the individual.

Also, it can be argued that the single most elemental drive is the continued survival of genetic material, and that everything else is secondary to that, at least as far as living organisms are concerned.

So I don't find the fear of non-existence to be unreasonable / unnatural, on the contrary in fact.

The initial question could just a legitimately be posed as "If you are not afraid of non-existence, why is this so?" because either presupposition has equal weighting!
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 03:37 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
Thanks for typing that out so I could cut and paste it. Brave words for a person with a neighborly relationship with death. They are words that I think can calm others.


Yes, one of the most impressive aspects of his participation in that discussion was his equanimity in the face of death, a death that he must of known was coming soon. It speaks volumes about his integrity.


I agree. I watched the Hitchens video and was veery impressed by his equanimity in the face of his own impending death as it brought to the fore many issues relating to positions he had publically and so prominently taken.

That said I also know that, when confronted with death, we do naturally cling to life. I've seen a fair amount of death; experienced a few situations that seriously threatened it; and know how we instinctively react. I believe that the idea of non-existence is a good deal easier to accept than the idea or the fact of death. Neither state however, has much to do with our understanding of life and why it is that we (or anything) exists at all - even if only briefly.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 03:37 pm
@Chumly,
I agree: living things have that inherent gene to survive, and that's the reason why evolution impacts all living things. The 17 Darwin finches is a good example of that; the bird's beaks have changed to accommodate the food source of where the birds live.
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 03:49 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Hi CI,
I hope you're keeping well, it's always a pleasure to hear from you!
Cheers,
Chum
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 04:19 pm
@Chumly,
Haven't seen you around for awhile; hope all is okay in your neck of the woods.
0 Replies
 
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 06:20 pm
@dlowan,
I'm afraid to die for lots of reasons, but I don't fear for myself after death. Does that make sense?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 07:10 pm
@Eorl,
Perfect sense.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 08:58 pm
@dlowan,
I mean, just to begin with, dying without seeing both parts of The Hobbit is simply terrifying to me.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 09:08 pm
@Eorl,
Never mind...if you don't get to see both parts of the hobbit you'll never know it...or not for long!


Reasons to be cheerful.



JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 09:55 pm
@georgeob1,
You don't consider the idea of non-existence and the idea of death to be (at least roughly) synonymous?
Procrustes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 09:59 pm
@JLNobody,
Wouldn't one be the cause (death) of the effect (non-existence)?
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Dec, 2011 10:01 pm
@Procrustes,
Procrustes wrote:
Wouldn't one be the cause (death) of the effect (non-existence)?
Like the death of the caterpillar means that he does not exist any more ?
 

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