In knowing life we come across a number of visions. Are they all equally useful or useless in assisting us in knowing death? When we accept, for example, that â€œbreathâ€? inhabits us when we are alive, and say that it leaves us at death, we can only account for the onset of death and for lifeless corpses. This does not add anything to our understanding of life or of death. The challenge of understanding is complicated further by the secret hope that if death were truly known to us we could perhaps escape it and live forever. Here I shall avoid this trap, and concern myself mainly with what will bring us nearer to grasping the fact that death and life are two aspects of our condition, should that be true at all. No effort will be made to salvage anything, to protect values held a priori or to engage in choosing between the various views held by authorities, from antiquity to today, or put forth in the various religions. A few years ago in an initial plan for an essay on this subject, I allotted some time to looking into the various proposals on death found in the literatures of the most prominent cultures. This I shall not include here, as it seems today that a more concise form of writing is preferable and that an historical approach would dilute the study and add nothing to it, or very little. In fact, since the literature is available anyone interested can turn to it. Hence, without loss to my readers, I can restrict myself to what is my personal contribution. That, in my view is the only justification for writing this essay.
Published on Jun 15, 2011