Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

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Death and the definition of the human person

September 20, 2007

Philosophy is among the subjects that I have right now that I believe are unnecessary simply because thought alone without the accompaniment of action is fruitless and futile, if not totally counter-productive. Philosophy is a leisure that not many people possess. To survive, people need to act, and not only and solely engage themselves in thinking. Despite this, I admit that I glean a lot of little truths and knowledge in my exploration of the thoughts of prominent philosophers. Though they may not be as efficient as the real world in teaching the lessons of life, they help in my survival and in my comprehension of it.

Gabriel Marcel, one of the few philosophers our class is doing a close reading of, once compared life to a series of lottery tickets: most of life happens in and with chance, and the only definite thing is a death in which one does not know of the time or place of its occurrence.

In the end, reflecting upon that paragraph, the only thing that is certain about life is the negation of it – death.

Within everyone, death is an ambivalence. It is both familiar to us because most, if not all of us experience or have experienced that sense of loss whenever a loved one passes on to the other side; yet it is also unfamiliar because most of us do not believe that it will happen to us in the near future. For most of us, death is something that will inevitably happen but is something that is distant from us. When it comes to death, also, the living are inexperienced. One can only experience a physical death once, and he can never return to the world of the living to tell its tale. Death, then, is something both known and unknown, but in the end what we know of it is the same as what we do not know of it: both aspects are incomplete.

I believe that looking at death as if it were something that will arrive later in the future is incorrect. It loses that sense of immediacy and agency. Death is not something that waits upon anyone: on the contrary, it is the one who acts ruthlessly to many, mercifully to others, but always with speed and quickness. I believe death should be looked upon as a looming spectre, as if it were the sword of Damocles. A thin string of chances holds together our lives as it does with the sword. It may fall anytime, however: it can fall sixty years from now, or it can fall later today.

My belief towards death is my belief towards how I live my life. A philosopher once said that life was a series of infinite moments of the present time. There was neither past nor future. They were merely present that has been, and present that will be. Life does not live in the past or the future.

I realized this not too long ago. Living in the past was as futile as living for the future. The uncertainty of death which hovers above every human life makes this true. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul? Academic excellence is pretty much the insurance one pays to profit him the whole world later on in life. Yet the fact still looms that he may not enjoy it, and it is a certainty that he cannot enjoy it fully for he has to pass his riches on to his heir. This does not mean that I do not believe in the academe, or that I believe in mediocrity (as much as this seems to imply): what I really want to deliver is that I believe there is more to life than the excellence in the academe.

I believe what is needed by every human being nowadays is a personal excellence, and excellence that reaches out instead of taking in; I believe in an excellence that is not and cannot be defined by numbers alone. I believe in a human excellence.

I may have failed in some examinations. My grades may not have been as high as they were when I was in high school or in elementary. However, I have made more friends; I have become a more holistic person; and I can sincerely say that I have reached out more to other people and have become a better person. Grades help with the improvement of one’s status and state in life. This, however, should not be our judge for the person. A person is much, much more than the grades he has gotten, and I have fully realized this only now.

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