When it comes to death, philosophers, non-philosophers, we all stand on the same page. As there is nothing to know about it. There are no specialists on death, not even those studying the concept of death are ahead than the rest of us. We are all equals in thinking about death, and we all begin and end thinking about it from a position of ignorance.
The concept of death is completely empty. There is nothing you can possibly visualise about it with only your imagination that can work. The concept of death has a use for the living, while death itself has no use for anything. All we can say about death is that it is either real or it is not real. If it is real, then the end of one’s life is a simple termination. If it is not real, then the end of one’s exemplified life is not true death, but a gateway to another life.
Having no substance, we can only talk about death figuratively. For those who think death is real, death is an empty wall. For those who think it is not real, death is a door to another life. Whether it is a wall or a door, we cannot prevent using one metaphor or another for death. We often say that a person who dies is relieved of misery. However, if death is real, then it is metaphorical even to say that the dead do not suffer, as though something of them remains not to suffer.
The ancient Egyptians thought that at death, your heart would be evaluated against a feather to decide if it was fit to enter the Underworld. A heart heavy with transgressions would be fed to a demon. When the stakes are everlasting, it’s only acceptable to get a little nervous about what’s basically the eventual final exam, but to make you feel better, let me assure that many philosophers have believed and still believe that death is nothing to fear.
Some philosophers like Socrates believed in the concept of afterlife. While, Ancient Stoic philosopher Epicurus didn’t think so. He lived about a hundred years after Socrates, and he denied belief in an afterlife altogether. Instead, he said that we are nothing more than just our bodies Here’s his argument.
“Death is the cessation of sensation. Good and evil only make sense in terms of feeling. So, Death is neither good nor evil. He was convinced that things are only evil, or bad, if they feel bad. And he did not mean only physical feelings, anyone who’s ever had a broken heart will tell you that it’s a lot more painful, and harder to heal, than a broken leg. But a broken heart is still a sensation – you need a body to experience it – so as a materialist – someone who believed that You equals Your Body – death just meant nonexistence. And there was not anything scary about that, because, well, there won’t be any you to have any feelings about not existing!”
Epicurus argued that fearing nonexistence is not only stupid, but gets in the way of relishing life. You are alive, and experiencing sensations, not. So, he said, make those feelings as great as possible, and don’t worry about when those senses are going to stop!
Think about a hangover you had after that crazy party. Hangovers aren’t bad for you before you get one, right? In fact, the thing that comes before the hangover is often quite nice, what with all the laughing, and feeling unrestrained. No, the hangover is only bad while it’s taking place.
But the point is, if something is bad for you, it’s generally bad for you at a specific time, the way a hangover is. But Epicurus said that death can’t be bad for you at any time. Because once it comes, you’re gone! The thing that eventually kills you, that’s probably bad, before your death, but that’s not death. When you think about it, you and Death are never present at the similar time. And if you aren’t there when death is present, then there is no time in which death is bad for you.
So, things like hangovers and movie spoilers are bad, because you’re there to experience them. But as far as Epicurus was concerned, life was like a night of drinking before a hangover that is death. Which, inevitable as it is, you will never truly experience.