What is death

(Part of essay being published in Advaita Vision)

Inevitably, we have mentioned ‘life’ as in apparent contrast with, or in opposition to, ‘death’, and we are not just staying with a conceptual analysis of these terms. ‘Death’, however, is not a complementary opposite of ‘life’, such as male–female, positive-negative, and many pairs of opposites such as these. It is in the same relationship to it as in the case of a quality that is lacking (e.g. coloured and colourless, good and bad, beauty and ugliness). Other than in living organisms or bodies, in which the word ‘death’ can be applied properly as being within the  empirical realm of phenomena, the term cannot be taken as a (metaphysical) principle in the way ‘life’ can be. Philosophically, death – and we start with a concept – is not the opposite pole of life, because only life is, just as we can say that only being is, and the same goes for ‘good’ and ‘beauty’ – these are substantial realities (or aspects of reality), permanent, stainless in themselves and unchanging (some times called ‘archetypes’, or Platonic Ideas). As the Greek philosopher, Parmenides, said, “being is; non-being is not”; in this same sense, badness ‘is not’, ugliness ‘is not’ – they are not positive qualities or principles. (Continuing – in ‘Advaita Vision’))


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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