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PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION OF DEATH

“If death is, I am not; If I am, death is not” (Epicurus). Man, living in the universe is
faced with lots of worries amongst which is that of death. Death can be defined metaphysically
as the end of individual human experiences beyond which there is no consciousness. It can
also be viewed as a human event, not just biological occurrence but also a separation of the
body and soul. The questions one may ask are; Do all human beings die? Are humans afraid of
death? Is there life after death? When would one die? These questions without answers only
go a long way to increase the number of worries human kind has. Everyone has different fears.
Most are afraid of death not because one does not know when and how he is going to die, but
also about what happens after death. Heidegger claims that man’s first experience of death is
the death of others and one never experienced death of another as they experienced it.
Man, as long as he exists is a being- towards- death. We care about the quality of our life, and
we care about its duration, we care about the quality and duration of the life of others. If there
is one thing we are sure of is the fact that death is inevitable. It is a mishap that often occur.
However, we hide our own possibility of death by putting this as an event that only happens to
others. One turns to believe that death is something that may happen to others and not to
one.
While one’s death will come, it is uncertain how, when it will come and what if there is
anything it might mean to the one who dies
Philosophy and death have often been thought to go together. In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates
shortly before drinking the hemlock, observes that those who rightly love wisdom are
practicing for dying, and death to them is the least terrible thing in the world. To Socrates
philosophy depends on the detachment of the soul from the body, so that freed from the body
it can focus on pursuing truth: for it is impossible in company with the body to know anything
purely, the body being a source of multiple confusion and disturbance. Lovers of wisdom are
therefore everywhere at enemity with the body and desire the soul to be alone by itself.
(Phaedo 64a. 65a-67a; 1956b: 467-70). Death should be welcomed by them since by
separating the soul from the body, they become once and for all free. it opens a way to
glorious eternal thoughts.
In addition to the fact that philosophy and death are bed rocks, Montaigne ,1987) asserts that
“to philosophize is to learn how to die by echoing the words of Cicero that we should employ
philosophy to help us prepare for death by tranquillizing the natural fear we have of it. To do
this to take is to look for philosophical arguments that taking a contemptuous attitude
towards. However, the costs of failing this enterprise are high: if the fear of death cannot be
dispelled, then every other pleasure is snuffed out. To Montaigne, he is sure that happiness is
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impossible unless reason can show that death is a negligible evil. He believed that it is quite
hopeless to try to deal with our fear by paying no attention to death. People around us are
dying every day and death has a discerning habit of turning up when we least expect it.

Most people have failed to recognize the full significance of the impact of death on life. The
fear of death arises as each child becomes aware of the death’s inevitability. It is too painful to
face our personal mortality directly without protecting ourselves, therefore some form of
defense formation against the painful realization of death and dying becomes essential.
Though many people may tend to deny their fear of death, nevertheless the fear of death
influences fundamental aspects of their lives and motivates many of their actions. The result of
a losing a love one is personal trauma, separation issues and especially death anxiety impact
lives at individual levels, interpersonal and societal levels. There is the conscious and conscious
fear of death.
While one’s death will come, it is uncertain when it will happen on what, if anything, it might
mean for the one who died. Man, worries that failure to keep the certainty of death in mind
might lead to the mood of excessive sorrow, either at bad news surrounding one’s own
situation or at the loss of a loved one.
Focusing on the certainty, one realized that death is an ever-present companion and by
preparing for what is sure to come, no death is so unexpected that it can cause such
obstructive distress. Failure to keep the uncertainty of death one might fall into a mood of
procrastination. This makes one to believe for several reasons that one will continue to live for
a long time.
When one takes seriously the uncertainty that death could happen at any moment and in any
way, one understands that thoughts of death and the meaning of one’s life cannot be so easily
set aside for another occasion. Given the constant threat of death, and bearing that it
sometimes come at the peak of our success, philosophy comes in to teach and make one feel
better in the face of death.

Man, instinctively fear death, and tend to avoid it in thoughts and actions. Philosophy has vital
concern with death and constantly mediate upon it. It is argued that there is nothing so little
as death, and ignoring death leaves one with a false sense of life’ encourages one to lose
ourselves in the minutiae of daily lives permanence and perhaps encourages one to lose
ourselves in minutiae of daily life. No doubt Epicurus in his letter to Menoeceus asserts that
death is the most terrifying ills is nothing to man, since so long as one exist, death is not them,
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but when death comes, then one no longer exist. So, it does not concern either the living or
the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more.

Both platonic and epicurean strain originally seeks to diminish the fear of death by appealing
to the idea that death is simply the separation of the soul from the body.
According to Plato as elaborated in Phaedo, death should not be feared. Since the soul will
have a prolonged existence from the bodily prison after death. This is the option taken by
much of the main stream Christian tradition.
Even Africans are not left out they have the notion that the end of death is life. Just like Plato,
Cicero, Socrates, Plato and the Scholastics, believe that death is the end of the life on earth
and beginning of another life on the land of the spirits. African metaphysics indicates that the
soul is the totality of the human person and at death the soul continue to live.
When man must have gain the knowledge about death, that he cannot escape death, he will
construct his life with the clear realization of that fact, he has been condemned to die, he will
neutralize fear by remembering death and concentrating on the essential aspects. Through the
awareness of death, the individual achieves integrity and fines meaning in life since he will
take charge of his life, make him honest and have total plan for their life.
Thus, philosophy is itself, in fact a kind of training for dying; a purification of the philosopher’s
soul from its bodily attachments. Socrates proport that it will be unreasonable for a wise to ba
afraid of death since by dying he is most likely to obtain the wisdom which he has been
seeking his whole life.
Both the philosopher’s courage in the face of death and his moderation with respect to bodily
pleasures which result from the pursuit of stark contrast to the courage and moderation
practiced by ordinary people (wisdom, courage are key virtues to Plato) obtain the wisdom
which he has been seeking.