A temporary matter essay

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A temporary matter essay

If death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to die. There A temporary matter essay conspicuous disagreement about the matter: Those in the former category tend to think those in the latter are blind to the obvious, while the latter suppose the former to be prey to some sort of confusion.

On the one hand it can be said that life is all we have and the loss of it is the greatest loss we can sustain. On the other hand it may be objected that death deprives this supposed loss of its subject, and that if we realize that death is not an unimaginable condition of the persisting person, but a mere blank, we will see that it can have no value whatever, positive or negative.

Since I want to leave aside the question whether we are, or might be, immortal in some form, I shall simply use the word 'death' and its cognates in this discussion to mean permanent death, unsupplemented by any form of conscious survival. I want to ask whether death is in itself an evil; and how great an evil, and of what kind, it might be.

The question should be of interest even to those who believe in some form of immortality, for one's attitude towards immortality must depend in part on one's attitude toward death. If death is an evil at all, it cannot be because of its positive features, but only because of what it deprives us of.

A temporary matter essay

I shall try to deal with the difficulties surrounding the natural view that death is an evil because it brings to an end all the goods that life contains. We need not give an account of these goods here, except to observe that some of them, like perception, desire, activity, and thought, are so general as to be constitutive of human life.


They are widely regarded as formidable benefits in themselves, despite the fact that they are conditions of misery as well as of happiness, and that a sufficient quantity of more particular evils can perhaps outweigh them.

That is what is meant, I think by the allegation that it is good simply to be alive, even if one is undergoing terrible experiences. The situation is roughly this: There are elements which, it added to one's experience, make life better; there are other elements which if added to one's experience, make life worse.

But what remains when these are set aside is not merely neutral: Therefore life is worth living even when the bad elements of experience are plentiful, and the good ones too meager to outweigh the bad ones on their own.

The additional positive weight is supplied by experience itself, rather than by any of its consequences. I shall not discuss the value that one person's life or death may have for others, or its objective value, but only the value that it has for the person who is its subject.

That seems to me the primary case, and the case which presents the greatest difficulties. Let me add only two observations. First, the value of life and its contents does not attach to mere organic survival; almost everyone would be indifferent other things equal between immediate death and immediate coma followed by death twenty years later without reawakening.

And second, like most goods, this can be multiplied by time: The added quantities need not be temporally continuous though continuity has its social advantages. People are attracted to the possibility of long-term suspended animation or freezing, followed by the resumption of conscious life, because they can regard it from within simply as a continuation of their present life.

If these techniques are ever perfected, what from outside appeared as a dormant interval of three hundred years could be experienced by the subject as nothing more than a sharp discontinuity in the character of his experiences. I do not deny, or course, that this has its own disadvantages.

Family and friends may have died in the meantime; the language may have changed; the comforts of social, geographical, and cultural familiarity would be lacking.

Nevertheless those inconveniences would not obliterate the basic advantage of continued, thought discontinuous, existence. If we turn from what is good about life to what is bad about death, the case is completely different.

Essentially, though there may be problems about their specification, what we find desirable in life are certain states, conditions, or types of activity.

It is being alive, doing certain things, having certain experiences, that we consider good. But if death is an evil, it is the loss of life, rather than the state of being dead, or nonexistent, or unconscious, that is objectionable. If it is good to be alive, that advantage can be attributed to a person at each point of his life.

It is good of which Bach had more than Schubert, simply because he lived longer. Death, however, is not an evil of which Shakespeare has so far received a larger portion than Proust.

If death is a disadvantage, it is not easy to say when a man suffers it. There are two other indications that we do not object to death merely because it involves long periods on nonexistence. First, as has been mentioned, most of us would not regard the temporary suspension of life, even for substantial intervals, as in itself a misfortune.

If it ever happens that people can be frozen without reduction of the conscious lifespan, it will be inappropriate to pity those who are temporarily out of circulation. Second, none of us existed before we were born or conceivedbut few regard that as a misfortune. I shall have more to say about this later.

The point that death is not regarded as an unfortunate state enables us to refute a curious but very common suggestion about the origin of the fear of death. It is often said that those who object to death have made the mistake of trying to imagine what it is like to be dead.CStrings are a useful data barnweddingvt.com greatly simplify a lot of operations in MFC, making it much more convenient to do string manipulation.

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