he psychological pain involved in death (for people other than the dying individual) comes from the degree of "discontinuity" involved in the death.

Observe the following cases:

  • John Jones is 50 years old. Where is Johnny Jones the 3 year old? His mother loved him very much and he has disappeared completely. He is "dead", i.e. no one can communicate with him anymore on a one to one 'real time' basis. But momma's sadness at the loss is mitigated by "transformation". Little Johnny became big John gradually. If Johnny had been hit by a truck, momma would haved been devastated by a major discontinuity.
  • John Jones has a major stroke, will not recover, and is no longer "intact" in all his mental faculties. Part of him is dead (can no longer communicate ...). His wife is saddened but much less than if he had died. The discontinuity is mitigated by "extent" of damage.
  • Mr. Jones has an arm amputated due to an accident. Again, Mrs. Jones is saddened but not to the degree of the former example. Her grief is mitigated by the "nature" of the loss. (It is only physical information which is lost rather than mental information which carries philosophical implications.)
  • John Jones is 500 years old (lifespan has been hypothetically extended). His wife, whom he left after 200 years of marriage on account of boredom, meets him again face to face and is not sad because she doesn't really remember him that well. Her grief is mitigated by "time", i.e. you can't remain sad indefinitely since happy/sad are complimentaries which cannot exist indefinitely as independent states.
The discontinuity "feared" by the individual who is dying is, literally, nothing.

Each person who dies "believes" to some degree, that death is termination in the absolute sense. We observe that other living things die and none are observed to return to life and none communicate post mortem. (Accounts to the contrary, even if true would certainly make less than a .01 percent anomaly.)

To be terminated absolutely, without regard to philosophical worth (good or bad) evokes a sense of worthlessness. That is, if we are terminated in such manner, all human striving for abstract principle is meaningless. No one can look upon his own soul and accept it as devoid of worth without experiencing the most excruciating fear and mental agony conceivable. (see Nature of Man)

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