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.

Discuss.

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Well I did already, but as mentioned if the end game is the same regardless of the "path" one takes, then there would not be anything anymore 'valuable' about the current life, since the actions one takes in the current life are entirely irrelevant to the end.

Much as if one had a choice of opening 1 of 3 doors, but all lead to the same destination, then whether or not they had only 1 choice, as opposed to 3, it would be irrelevant in value.

Valuable to whom? And what determines that value? 

I would venture that whether you choose to be a responsible parent and be involved in a child's life - for instance - as opposed to abandoning them - has value (and matters, either way) regardless of any afterlife. Irrelevant is not the word I would use for that reality. 

Is your contention truly, that without an afterlife, a life of service and kindness is of equal value to a life causing pain and suffering?

Valuable to whom? And what determines that value? 


If the end-game is the same regarless of the actions one takes in this life, then whether or not one has 1 life or 1000 wouldn't have any affect on its value.

I would venture that whether you choose to be a responsible parent and be involved in a child's life - for instance - as opposed to abandoning them - has value (and matters, either way) regardless of any afterlife. Irrelevant is not the word I would use for that reality.

That's fair enough, but the notion that things have intrinsic value in and of themselves doesn't seem to me to jive with a purely materialist outlook.

Is your contention truly, that without an afterlife, a life of service and kindness is of equal value to a life causing pain and suffering?

Well whether or not one brings "afterlife" into it specifically, if the end-game is identical regardless of one's actions, then who is to say it isn't, beyond mere utilitarian cause and effect?

So theoretically, if one could achieve less pain to the self through causing suffering than services and kindness, then why should not they?


Or for that matter, if one could achieve less pain simply by putting a gun to their head right now, than by living out a natural life, why should not they? Because under a materialist outlook, by what rationale "should" one do anything at all, beyond a utilitarian means to an end?

I guess in practice, most people would naturally find it more satisfying to be kind to others than to harm others, but I don't see how someone could say that doing so is an obligation or has intrinsic value beyond just a means to an end.

First - don't assume I am a pure materialist just because I am an atheist. 

"If the end-game is the same regarless of the actions one takes in this life, then whether or not one has 1 life or 1000 wouldn't have any affect on its value."

This assumes that life is in a vacuum, and does not impact others. Much less that such an impact could continue over time. 

Most of your arguments seem to derive only from "value" to the self (spiritual, eternal, etc.). Mine are to society - here and now. What matters to me is the effect you have on the world and the people around you. Not where you serve your reward or punishment.

"if one could achieve less pain simply by putting a gun to their head right now, than by living out a natural life, why should not they?"

Because you cannot know that to be the case. That's an irreversible decision made without having evidence to support making it.

"Because under a materialist outlook, by what rationale "should" one do anything at all, beyond a utilitarian means to an end?"

Even from a materialist standpoint we see that cooperative societies last longer, have healthier happier participants, etc. If we reduce the "means to an end" to survival of the species (and tribe/society) - a healthier one reproduces better. We could assert from this that "happy and healthy" are "good" values, which support a reasonably defined end. 

But again, I'm not a materialist in this sense. 

I understand what you're saying; even then though you'd have to presume that bettering society has some type of intrinsic value in and over itself.

Plus, from that perspective, what would the ultimate 'end game' be for society to achieve, that would make all of the survival worthwhile?

you'd have to presume that bettering society has some type of intrinsic value in and over itself.

See my later statement about a "better society" living longer and procreated more effectively. The value from that standpoint is to be better equipped to survive. That can provide a framework for value - if you need such a thing. Things which support that goal are good, things which work against it are bad. 

what would the ultimate 'end game' be for society to achieve, that would make all of the survival worthwhile

Why does it need to have an "end-game?" Isn't to exist - to think, love, learn, create, teach and ultimately to die, enough? Further, since we have no evidence of any of the asserted end-game goals from any religion or philosophy being true in any way - how is your position any different? 

I see what you're saying; I suppose to me the problem is that if the ideal goal behind survival and thriving is the eventual creation of a 'perfect world' without suffering, as opposed to personal transcendence - then it would be easier to give up on the notion entirely, since for example one could speculate that society may never actually achieve complete progress, but that it might end in worldwide nuclear war instead, which would arguably render everything meaningless beyond simply what pleases the person in the here and now.

"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."

That assumes that amount of pain/pleasure has a greater weighting or value than the intensity or impact of the pain/pleasure.

It also assumes that the point of life is the destination rather than the journey.

And it also doesn't consider the impact the individual had on others and/or his environment à la "It's a Wonderful Life".

That assumes that amount of pain/pleasure has a greater weighting or value than the intensity or impact of the pain/pleasure.


Well I'd venture that taking into account "amount of pains", as in units, as well as "intensity of each unit", one could in theory come up with a mathematical formula showing the total amount of pain.

So if the total amount of pain one experienced by living out a natural life, was shown to be less then just ending it here and now, there'd be no 'rational 'reason to do the former.

And it also doesn't consider the impact the individual had on others and/or his environment à la "It's a Wonderful Life".

It also assumes that the point of life is the destination rather than the journey

Either way that would still only be contingent on the mere 'pain and pleasure' calculations of the journey itself.

And it also doesn't consider the impact the individual had on others and/or his environment à la "It's a Wonderful Life".

Which couldn't motivate an individual to do so purely at their own expense, unless perhaps at the threat of greater pain for not doing so, regardless of whether it was the "end game" or the "journey" of helping others which was viewed as important.

I think we are overthinking death. I think our self-awareness is tricking us into believing that there's more to our life than it really is, and because of it we are trying rationalize our existence. Just like our ancestors had "supernatural" ideas about weather phenomena, we are having "supernatural" ideas about death. We just moved line a little.

Why should there be a point in our existence or anything rational about it? Why should there be afterlife or past life's? Why spirits, God's, souls, ect.?
I believe this are just a "fail checks" that keep our bodies in a state we call "alive". They help make a sense out of our surrounding and help us trough tough time, but i believe that's it, nothing more to it.

I'm not afraid of death. Maybe I'll live couple of 1000 year's, maybe I'm going to die in next couple of seconds. So what? All that matters to me is this moment and what can/i will do in this moment.

One of the things I hate about christianity is that it made people fear and even despise death, but still pushed them into murder and death - be it with the "holy" wars, or the inquisitorial campaigns against "heretics", "heathens", and "non-believers". I'd say this about islam as well, but I'm not very familiar with the religion (and no, islamist radicals don't count in this case for the soul reason that they're just that - radicals).

Death is a natural phenomenon, and it should not be hated. Indeed, to us, as to living beings, death is stressful and should be evaded for as long as possible, but hating it? That's just silly.

As to the reverence of 'human shaped stakes', not all faiths have this. In antiquity bodies were often times left in forests for the wild animals to tear apart. The Zoroastrians left (or still do) the bodies of the dead to rot under the sun atop specially constructed buildings - to them the flesh was\ is dirty and therefore cannot be buried in the ground, sunk in water, or burned in fire, lest you want to pollute these elements. Some faiths believe(d) that the physical body is expendable, and therefore could be disposed of freely, or in some particular way; others believe(d) that the soul and body are tied, and therefore destroying the body would harm the soul; others believe(d) that the soul will actually return to the body at some point in the future, and therefore disposed of it in a certain way.

Fact is that we - the living - having no factual knowledge of afterlife, for lack of better judgement, just take what we can get with all these rituals, not because of only sentimental value towards out deceased ones, but also because simply 'ending' is scary and depressive. It's kind of like in that old joke:

At a soviet school, a lesson on religious education:
- Children, god doesn't exist, so if you 'give the finger' to the skies, nothing will happen, you will not be punished for it. As proof, let's do just that. Everyone, stand up, and 'give the finger' to the sky!
All the children do as ordered, save one.
- Johnny, why aren't you showing the finger to the sky?
- Miss teacher, if you're right, and god doesn't exist, it won't make a difference; but if you're wrong, I don't want to get on his bad side.

And a little bonus, one of my favourite quotes by Epicurus: Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist. - though in English it can be interpreted in another way.

Well in practice, I see those who fear death the most, those who tend to be overly concerned with this specific, physical life, to the point they have to simply avoid thinking about it, and just assert that 'nothing happens' or whatever comforts them - despite this being pretty unlikely on philosophical, logical, and scientific grounds; and ends up just being a "simple myth" repeated like one would a fairy tale to avoid one having to example the deeper realities of existence.

I'd say the "Christianity" you refer to isn't actually Christianity, but more of a secular dumbing-down of the theological subjects, in which everything is merely viewed in the terms of this current, physical life, rather than in the terms of deeper concepts; likewise a central concept I see in Christianity and Eastern religion is that of living in the present, and not "thinking" mindlessly about death or one's current physical life, those things are more secular vices in nature.

Epicurus, like Schopenhauer, strikes me as a fairly unenlightened and self-contradictory fellow who wasn't capable of giving subjects much deep logical thought, so I wouldn't put too much stake into his ideas myself.

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