0

It can be said that there is a pre-existential state, defined as life prior to understanding that death is inevitable, as in young children.

Query 1: can it be said that a post-existential state may also exist? That is, once an elderly or terminally-ill person accepts their impending demise, do they not, through acceptance, return to a non-exitential state mirroring that of the child?

Query 2: if we define the authentic life as borne of decisions, would not the elderly and terminally-ill have only one decision left to make, viz., how to face death authentically?

  • I've never heard of "the authentic life" before. Is it an established term of art in philosophy? What does it mean: doesn't every single person live life authentically, by definition? What would a non-authentic life look like? – Dan Bron May 9 '15 at 10:58
  • 1
    It is a common aspect of moralities, originally the main part of Cynicism, it became a huge component of Stoicism. It got revived in popular culture after psychoanalysis convinced many that it is impossible to successfully lie about things, without those lies having an unintended impact. But it also bears through deep folks who are trying to transcend or revive the Greek tradition that got constrained by Plato, like Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Husserl. At least some translators also see it as the basic component of 'te' in the Tao/Te Ching. – jobermark May 9 '15 at 15:16
  • See pdcnet.org/pdc/bvdb.nsf/… . This article articulates how Kierkegaard's Sickness unto Death critiques the idea that facing-death is the final authentic state. – virmaior May 10 '15 at 3:48
  • @virmaior: Thanks for that reference. I haven't look at it but the major point is that the Western religious philosophers have found it socially useful to debate to even "[critique] the idea that facing-death is the final authentic state", indicating that in their social milieu, critique of such nonsense did not appear to itself also be nonsense. But, regarding whether we in 2015 should be concerned with what the religious nutcases reasoned about, the simple answer is no, except as psychological/psychiatric studies. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 10 '15 at 12:27
  • @Cheersandhth.-Alf the reference wasn't necessarily for you ... and is directly related to what appears to be the topic of this question. – virmaior May 10 '15 at 13:14
1

Accepting death does not remove the terror or excitement of the unknown. And what lies beyond death is always unknown. So I do not see how one could really support Query 1. The devoutly religious and some psychedelicists claim to have put this fear to rest, but they then seem to become attached to the process of dying in a positive way. So they are still affected by their own feelings about death. Whether it is a negative or a positive feeling, thinking about death continues to have a 'frisson'.

To me Query 2 seems to contradict Query 1. If one has lost an obsessive attachment to death, one's life should suddenly be all about death? I think a lot of people who are leaving us become less self-centered and quite concerned with those surviving them.

-2

Regarding

Query 1: can it be said that a post-existential state may also exist?

Assuming the question is not intended to produce meaningless debate about word definitions or within the wiggle room allowed by the general vagueness, then possibly/probably you're inquiring about whether the term “post-existential state” could be practically meaningful, whether there are people who can't do anything of influence to anybody, except dying.

Yes, there are comatose people, they do exist, so, the answer is yes.


Regarding (still in your number 1)

That is, once an elderly or terminally-ill person accepts their impending demise, do they not, through acceptance, return to a non-exitential [sic] state mirroring that of the child?

Earlier you defined “pre-existential state, defined as life prior to understanding that death is inevitable, as in young children”.

The only similarity to that of someone who has learned of impending death and then gone comatose, is the similarity in how your chosen description sounds to the ear.

So the answer to the comparison with children is no, that's not a legitimate comparison, that's just silly wordplay based on how words sound. If you meant something else then you would have to at least hint about it. E.g., if you meant heads empty of thoughts, then I could answer that as a scientific fact, children's heads are full of thoughts, even before birth, so then the answer is still no, but perhaps a more meaningful no.

Disregarding the "hey, similar sounds" comparison to children, if you mean that “necessarily” people become comatose (most do not), then no, but if you mean “can” then yes. These conclusions follow from just inspecting reality. Mostly people do not become comatose when they learn about some short timeframe for their demise, but some then shortly become comatose. Let me just note that it should not be necessary to ask about such things, since this information should already have been assimilated – from TV, radio, internet, newspapers etc., not to mention general education – by anyone capable of asking a question here.


Then regarding

Query 2: if we define the authentic life as borne of decisions, would not the elderly and terminally-ill have only one decision left to make, viz., how to face death authentically?

Again it can be answered simply by inspecting reality, and the answer is no.

  • The queries he makes seem to be clear allusions to Heidegger's ideas of the self's existentiell and authenticity in being-towards-death. So I don't think the answer you're giving matches the question being asked, though I see how you'd come to that from the words. If he means something unrelated to Heidegger, then this might be a good answer. – virmaior May 10 '15 at 11:48
  • @virmaior: Nonsense. There are clear allusions to just about anything, including just about anything from philosophy. Speculating about possible intentions, from such a near infinite set of possibilities, is dumb, other than as a means to radiate off word-odours that might seem pleasant to a particular group that one desires a membership in. This stance does however fit in with your behavior elsewhere, that a commented on. An urge that answers should contain references to and be based on existing vague nonsense philosophy, when they can be really answered by thinking or observation. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 10 '15 at 12:06
  • On the contrary, google.co.jp/… – virmaior May 10 '15 at 13:15
  • I think you just don't seem to get what philosophy means ... either as the academic discipline or the SE roughly built around it. – virmaior May 10 '15 at 13:17
  • @virmaior: From the vague impression I have of him, I think if Voltaire lived today then he would have many interesting thoughts about things that are relevant today. I.e. that's my kind of man, a free thinker. But then we have some genius logicians like Pascal, Descartes and Gödel, who were strongly into proving the existence of a particular god, and such idiocy. They, while evidently extremely intelligent, are examples of pure conformity, and how conformity can make even geniuses come to idiotic conclusions. I think maybe John Searle is non-conformist, others current seem conformist. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 10 '15 at 13:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.