Confronting the reaper

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Confronting the reaper

  1. 1. Confronting the Reaper Mysterious and Evil In art and mythology, death is sometimes represented as a ferry­man, eager to take his passengers to the other side. It is also sometimes represented as a moth, fluttering mindlessly into the flame of a candle.
  2. 2. But the most compelling, the ancient image of death is provided by the Reaper—the hooded skeleton bearing the huge curved scythe.
  3. 3. Myth of Creation
  4. 4. Monty Python: The Meaning of Life
  5. 5. He’s ugly, he’s menacing The Reaper is ugly and menacing. He stares directly at us, and with an outstretched bony finger, he beckons us to come to him. He is patient. If we escape today, surely he will have us tomorrow. He is democratic.
  6. 6. But, can you cope with him?
  7. 7. Can you kill death?
  8. 8. The Scythe
  9. 9. A man for all seasons
  10. 10. Or sometimes a woman
  11. 11. 5 stages of death in death?
  12. 12. In Art
  13. 13. Pop Art
  14. 14. He Strikes on Land and He Strikes on the Seas
  15. 15. He lurks in the shadows He is mysterious. This is illustrated by the fact that the Reaper's face is often hidden in the shadows of his hood. Death is taken to be weird or uncanny—something about which we have no real understanding.
  16. 16. He is the subject of humor.
  17. 17. And the weird
  18. 18. And politics
  19. 19. And Sex
  20. 20. Death and the Maiden
  21. 21. He plays chess
  22. 22. He comes in style
  23. 23. No one is immune
  24. 24. Social-Medical ad from Australia
  25. 25. He is personified
  26. 26. He waits for no one
  27. 27. Even to the practical joke level
  28. 28. He’s even in Children’s Cartoons
  29. 29. And adult cartoons
  30. 30. He danses
  31. 31. He appears at Super Bowls and goes with Taxes
  32. 32. Sometimes he wears white.
  33. 33. He’s used for pranks
  34. 34. And more pranks
  35. 35. Is he a racist?
  36. 36. He is no respecter of persons.
  37. 37. And the awkward humor
  38. 38. Death wish?
  39. 39. Some apparently want to know what it feels like to be dead. Since no one returns from death, the living apparently have no informants who can tell us what death is like. Thus, according to these people, a certain important aspect of death remains mysterious. We cannot know what it feels like.
  40. 40. Edwards points out the absurdity of any such quest. Death surely does not "feel like" anything; once dead, we cease to feel. We have no experience. If you are troubled because you cannot know what it feels like to have no feelings, you are simply confused.
  41. 41. Other philosophers argue that the Reaper is not really evil. Epicurus—perhaps the most eloquent spokesman for this position—says in effect that we have an utterly failsafe way of protecting ourselves from the evil of death.2 At the very moment when the Reaper clutches us in his bony embrace, we go out of existence. Since the nonexistent cannot be harmed, death cannot harm us.
  42. 42. Epicurus summarizes this point by saying that "death ... is nothing to us, since so long as we exist death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist. It does not concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more."3 Death comes quickly an unexpectedly.
  43. 43. “The DEADline”
  44. 44. Many modern philosophers, biologists, and theologians have defended similar positions. They have claimed that death is neither so mysterious nor so evil as the naive would suppose. The Reaper, according to these thinkers, is really no more mysterious or evil than the stork who symbolizes birth or the flowing stream that symbolizes life. In each case, all we have is a biological phenomenon that has by now been thoroughly studied in the full light of day.
  45. 45. In this course, I will examine the naive view on both counts. I try to display death as a mystery. Perhaps it is not mysterious in quite the way some have said, but it is mysterious nonetheless.
  46. 46. Yet, we will also show how death can be a great evil, especially for its victim.
  47. 47. If I merely claimed that death is mysterious and evil, there would be no reason to continue this course. You probably already accept these points and think that anyone who says otherwise is engaging in self-deception. But the issue is more complex. Wise and thoughtful philosophers have presented subtle arguments designed to show that death cannot be evil.
  48. 48. Is this a required course?
  49. 49. Equally sensible thinkers have claimed to take the mystery out of death by telling us, in straightforward biological terminology, what death is. In order to deal responsibly with these views, we must first understand the arguments and proposed definitions. If, after appropriate scrutiny, the arguments and definitions can be seen to be defective, than we can reinstate the naive views. Of course, under those circumstances, the views will no longer be so naive.
  50. 50. What would it be like without death? Is he really the enemy?
  51. 51. What is the nature of death?
  52. 52. Since the concept of life apparently plays a role in the definition of death, we must first understand what is meant by 'life'. But, on a philosophical level, remember, life itself turns out to be a bit of a mystery.
  53. 53. Our fifth section will concern "Dying as a Process." Roughly, the idea seems to be that something is dying if it is still alive, but on an irreversible downhill path that will soon terminate in death. We will review the Western Concept of Death. Dying is a process
  54. 54. The skull of Adam at the foot of the Cross: detail from a Crucifixion by Fra Angelico, 1435
  55. 55. "The Survival of Death," When Hamlet says, "To be or not to be, that is the question," he really means "To die or not to die, that is the question." "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest. . ." He urges the skull to “get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come”
  56. 56. A Materialist Conception of Death Can a person survive death? Can a person die more than once? Can a person get out of life without dying? Can something die if it never lived? This chapter provides a summary of a proposed materialistic conceptual scheme for death.
  57. 57. We will question the value of death. The central ethical problem, as I see it, is whether death is bad for the one who dies. Will my death be a misfortune for me? Epicurus and Lucretius presented a famous argument designed to show that since I will not exist after death, and will not then suffer any pain, my death cannot be bad for me.
  58. 58. And, Death means Business
  59. 59. The End

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