What is philosophy? A question I’ve previously tried to answer, but today let’s look at philosophy’s relationship with death. To put it simply, without philosophy, we cannot make any sense of the world. It’s the foundation we build our thinking upon.
Philosophy is the best training for how to live life.
It’s the way to read the training manual of life. However, that training manual has a lot of room for interpretation. The combination of our thoughts, convictions, and values has created models to help us understand the universe. To understand these models, we must use philosophy, reason, and logic.
But what does philosophy have to do with death? Well, Stoicism went as far as reducing all philosophical questions to one issue: the fear of death.
By philosophizing, you’re teaching yourself how to die.
Through philosophy, we have been able to use thinkers of the past to provide us valuable insights into understanding the present.
Now, what makes this relationship with death and philosophy so unique to humans? We have this strange capacity — unlike other animals — of the finite nature of our existence. We can contemplate our existence and make narratives about the meaning of our lives.
We are the only being that we know of that can contemplate our coming death.
Groups of people have formulated grand myths to save them from this question of death. They are relying on faith to overcome their inevitable end of existence. As long as you remain a true believer — staying true to your faith — God will save you from death they say.
But a caveat is in order. If you want to be saved, you must have faith in their God. You must not give in to your reason, as this is to give in to the Devil in the form of the serpent.
By doubting the word of God, you’re being tempted by the enchantment of the forbidden fruit. Those with the fear of God tell us not to give in to those tempting ideas formulating in our minds.
When you give into your reason — eating the forbidden fruit — you deny your faith in God. Thus, you will always remain mortal.
Unless there’s an alternative? If we allow ourselves to give into the world of philosophy we, in the words of Michel de Montaigne, can “learn how to die.”
Philosophy boils down to an understanding of our finite existence. Motivating us to contemplate how we should spend our time in this finite existence and what is the meaning of all this! Primarily, our understanding of our inevitable death in the grand scheme of the universe has led us towards philosophy.
Our understanding that we will die and those we love around us will die too.
Death is the actualization of time past. Edgar Allan Poe discusses in “The Raven,” where a raven is perched on a window repeating “Nevermore” over and over and over again.
What does this mean?
It’s the understanding that you cannot change the past and your future is quickly fading into black. When “Nevermore” comes for us, all that remains of you is time past and only in the realities of the loved ones left behind.
With this understanding, you can begin the journey into finding profound perspectives on life that are truly gripping and profound.