Death & Mortality

Issue #14 — 4.7 min read

👋 Hey phi-lazy-phers

If you’ve been subscribing to this newsletter for a while now, you have been asked, on quite a few occasions, to contemplate your death, or at least the finitude of your life. I think reflecting on these things often is important as it reveals what’s truly important in one’s life, and if we’re not giving something the importance it deserves, we can course-correct before completely losing sight of it.

But death is hard to talk about, especially since most of us have dealt with loved ones passing. However, this issue is more focused on wrestling with our mortality. Let’s see what philosophy has to teach us about death.


Epicurus

Death is nothing to us. When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fear of death arises from the belief that in death, there is awareness.

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Albert Einstein

I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.

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Marcus Aurelius

Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good. Now.

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Erling Kagge

We fear death to varying degrees, but the fear of not having lived is even stronger. That fear increases towards the end of life, when you understand that it will soon be too late.

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Anne Lamott

My deepest belief is that to live as if we're dying can set us free. Dying people teach you to pay attention and to forgive and not to sweat the small things.

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Mark Twain

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

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Charles Bukowski

We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.

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Ricky Gervais

The best thing about being dead is that you don't know about it. It's like being stupid - it's only painful for others.

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Alan Watts

Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.

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Arthur Schopenhauer

After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.

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Oscar Wilde

Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.

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Epictetus

Do you know that disease and death must needs overtake us, no matter what we are doing? What do you wish to be doing when it overtakes you? If you have anything better to be doing when you are so overtaken, get to work at it.


The quote from Erling Kagge resonated with me—I don’t fear death or being dead, what I do fear is wasting my limited time being alive. I think the pandemic forced people to reconsider what it was they were doing with their time as well. I’ve spoken to many folks who started businesses or passion projects because this past year made them realize they wanted to do something more meaningful with their lives.

So, if there’s something you wish you to do before death comes knocking on your door, take Epictetus’ advice and begin working on it now.

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✌️ Until next week, happy philosophizing.