A Matter of Life and Death

 

Death is the only aspect of life about which I am certain - life without death is unimaginable to me. To try to understand human death, I must first try to understand human life. Not the 'purpose' of human life but simply what happens, without making value judgements.

I look at human life on this planet as a process of energy exchange, consisting of input to and output from members of the species homo sapiens. Input comprises things such as food, warmth and love. The output is people, with all their material, emotional and intellectual products, giving them a consciousness of self (the individualís way of relating to the species). I see each individual human life as part of this process. Every action performed by an individual makes a contribution to the process.

Each individual human life becomes, by these actions, more and more integrated into the life of the species. The death of an individual is their final contribution to the process . I think that the effect of this process generally has been to improve the input/output ratio of the species, to make it more efficient. This has led to a bigger population with an improved output, which in turn has led to further improvement of the input/output ratio. In other words homo sapiens has been, up to the present time, a successful species.

I think that the effect of this process on individuals has been to improve their quality of life - materially, emotionally and intellectually - to improve their consciousness of self. I see death as an essential part of the input/output process. Death can thus be celebrated as the final contribution of the individual to the growth of the species. The individual knows only about the death of others, never its own. With the death of an individual, their consciousness of unlimited self mutates into the speciesí consciousness of the limit of self, something unknowable to the individual, since imagination does not displace experience.

I cautiously suggest that death is good for us, since it means we don't have to worry about the future. All members of the species know for certain what their own future is (death) and in this knowledge they are relieved of responsibility for the species. We die happy in the knowledge that the species has changed because of us, and that its future is unknowable.