The fear of death is natural for all human beings regardless of race or culture and perhaps the only thing that separates the fear among different cultures are the vast array of concepts and views pertaining to it. After the concept of a higher being, death is perhaps the second most philosophically debated topic and rightly so, because as the text supplied to us said “we can and must postulate, as reasonably as possible, what our end has in store for us.
Historically speaking, the fear of death itself has been a hotly debated topic and has even been used for ulterior motives such as the case of the Catholic Church and their concept of plenary indulgence. In more recent times the fear of death has even been used as an incentive, fundamentalist Muslims have turned the fear into something that should be welcomed and coupled with the promise of seventy-seven virgins in the afterlife, has itself been used to persuade impressionable people into wearing vest bombs.
Fear is indeed a great motivator and yes, few things can compete with the fear of death but I beg to differ about it and I’ll even go so far as to say that not only should you not fear death but you should in all sense of the word, welcome that fear and turn it into something positive.
Following the arguments from the texts given to us, the first thing we should consider is the question of whether it is rational to fear death. Of course, death being unable to exist at the same time and place as you can therefore not harm you and should not be feared. The fear of death is irrational in all respects according to this argument and rightly so. Unfortunately, there are such things as irrational fears and I suspect that the fear of death has enough magnitude to trump rationality –at least most of the time.
It is a given fact that we do indeed fear death regardless of whether it is rational or irrational to do so. In that regard, what other choices are there? Death being a fact of life means that we can do nothing else about it but to simply accept it. We can of course at this point minimize the fear of death by proving that it is not death itself that should be feared but rather a life unlived.
The “badness” of death can actually depend on what would have happened to a person if that person’s death had not taken place. Suppose then that some very old and unhappy person dies and considering that further life would inevitably only lead to more pain for this person, then dying is not so bad for him (Feldman 140). Some may even see death for this person as a blessing and arguably, this is where one should start looking as death as more than something to fear but as something that could be a motivation.
Death should not be feared, it should be seen as a reminder that a person may have a greater purpose in his life and should do all he can to strive for it. It is a reminder that regardless of whether there is an afterlife or not, this life matters and one does not have a lot of time to MAKE it matter. Yes, the fear of death is irrational, but more than that, is it not more irrational to make nothing of death and simply accept it?
At this point it seems that I arrived at a different conclusion than the author of the given text. It just seems to me that the author is so focused on death as an end rather than as an opportunity. Yes, death is an end but is it not also an opportunity to be reminded that there are things you could achieve and people you can touch before that end ultimately comes?
At the end of the day, I do concede that we have no doubt proven the irrationality of death but I also argue that not only have we proven that but we may have also given a solution regarding it. By considering the rationality of death, I’m was hard pressed not to consider the rationality of life itself and now I’ll have to conclude that the only solution to the fear of death is simply acceptance and doing what you can to make sure that when the proverbial clock ends, you will be able to look the reaper in the eye and say that you have no regrets.
Feldman, Fred. Confrontations with the Reaper. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.