The fact that everyone is going to die is well known to us all, yet it still effects us deeply when one of our personal connections dies.

Death is the cessation of biochemical processes. Total loss of homeostasis.

The former human, once animated by a variety of chemical processes is now just a lump of rapidly decaying matter that was once an organism. Death of individual cells, whether by apoptosis or some other means, is a regular part of life for multi-cellular organisms, happening on a constant basis.  

Thus, a human corpse is no different than a human shaped steak, anything else is just sentimentalism. But, humans are sentimental. We honor these lumps of decaying flesh, and dispose of them with ritual and reverence. Strange creatures, we are.


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I generally think of my self as rational, and I've never been the least bit superstitious.  But death has always bothered me a lot, way more than it should.  And it's not a fear of dying, but it's after the death occurs that bothers me.  When I was a kid, I was terrified of cemeteries, and to this day I refuse to live near one.  I don't even like shopping at stores or eating at restaurants near them.  Funeral homes creep me out even more.  It has nothing to do with evil spirits or anything like that, it's just a visceral response to the idea of proximity to dead people.  I have no rational explanation for why these things bother me so much; after all, dead bodies are just a bunch of chemicals, not fundamentally different from any other matter, as the OP suggests.  I suppose it could be simply a result of never being exposed to such things as a kid; out here in the West, Europeans have a much shorter history than they do in most other places, so there is naturally less evidence of the dead laying around.  I went most of my life without ever even seeing a cemetery, and no one close to me died until I was in my 20's so I never really had to be exposed to it growing up.  Because I have such a negative visceral response to anything associated with death (black curtains, stately urns, coffins, the style of architecture that all funeral homes seem to have) the idea of dispensing with all the ceremony and just maybe tossing me out in the woods and letting the natural process of decay take over is rather comforting.

Well a problem with that statement, is that while a corpse is made of a bunch of chemicals, if one were to gather the identical numbers and types of chemicals in a jar, they would not be a corpse.

Much as while an automobile may be composed of mechanical parts, a pile of said identical parts in a junkyard would not be an 'automobile', so equating a bunch of chemicals with a corpse, seems to be... incorrect.

Unfortunately it often seems that the 'rational' and the 'asethetic', which I believe is linked to logic, do not go hand in hand, and if anything, are often anti-thetical.

Couple things about death. First off I'm not afraid to die... However what scares the Hell out of me is not being able to take care of myself or just being a shell with no actual quality of life.  I don't want to be in a situation where I need someone to help me shower, eat, etc.  I would truly rather be dead if that were the case.  Also I don't like the idea of being embalmed.  I've seen the process and I find it rather gross, and it makes the body look like a wax doll IMO. When I die I just want to be buried right away.

I'm with you on embalming. I don't need my body preserved for some reason. "Green burials" sound better and better - let my nutrients go back into the earth, not preserved in a concrete vault.

I am far more afraid of my mind going than my body. Senility is actually something I am decently afraid of. But yeah, I have too much pride to be nursed. I don't like people doing things for me like that.

Also with you on being embalmed. Unless you're sitting up with the dead or something, it really is a waste.

But, humans are sentimental. We honor these lumps of decaying flesh, and dispose of them with ritual and reverence. Strange creatures, we are.

True for most humans, but not all. Wahabbi Sunni muslims bury their dead in unmarked graves - including the kings of Saudi Arabia. They feel visiting tombstones, monuments, etc smacks of ancestor worship.

That's interesting. Thank you.

Yeah but that doesn't mean that they aren't sentimental or honour them in other ways.

Your feelings about death depend greatly on what you believe happens after.  As a Christian, I believe death is the beginning and not the end.  

Unfortunately I lost my grandad a few days ago so this is something I've been thinking about alot. I saw his body shortly after he died (it was sudden, I couldn't get there in time) and it was really disturbing, a very strange experience, difficult to describe. When I saw him in the funeral home, it was less disturbing as he now looked more like he did when he was alive.

Since then I've reminded myself that the body isn't 'him' any more, just the remains after his death, now essentially an inanimate object. I'd certainly rather remember him when he was alive than these post-death images.

Personally I don't believe in an afterlife, although I know he was a Christian and I'm the only non-believer in the family. I think if you don't believe in an afterlife, then this life is infinitely more valuable. It's worth much more if it's the only 70 or 80 years ypu get rather than just the first 80 years of eternity.

I don't fear death as such, other than the general fear of the unknown and worrying about my partner/any kids we may have by then. There's an article by Amy Krause Rosenthal about wanting her husband to find a new partner after her death, its one of the most beautiful and touching things I've ever read,really shows so much love for someone, to want them to be happy even after you pass.

As for death itself, there's an interesting article which deals with the debate on when someone is actually 'dead' and the idea that it's a process rather than one event. Link below.

Well the problem with that logic, is that without believing in an afterlife, there wouldn't be anything 'valuable' or 'invaluable' about this life to begin with, because what one does or does not do in this life would be entirely irrelevant if the end game were identical.

For that matter, if the net amount of pain one experienced in this life exceeded whatever pleasures they might acquire, then one could even argue it would be more rational to just end it, as the end would be the same either way, and the pain-to-pleasure ratio would be lower by simply putting a gun to one's head right now.

I think that saying originated from Nietzsche, though I could be wrong, but like most of his philosophy, when actually logically examined, it turns out to be rather fallacious, hence why I don't think he hoped his philosophy was actually put under the logical microscope, but rather just repeated as a comforting myth.

"without believing in an afterlife, there wouldn't be anything 'valuable' or 'invaluable' about this life to begin with, because what one does or does not do in this life would be entirely irrelevant if the end game were identical."

On its own, this statement is not supported, and too much of your argument hinges on it. 

Can you explain further? 


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