标记档案: 死亡


One simple way of reinstating an absolute form of morality (as opposed to a relative, risk-reward kind) is to postulate continuity beyond death. The notion of a “灵魂,” as proposed in almost all religions, serves this purpose. Soul is also the substantive (albeit ethereal) representation of the otherwise elusive consciousness of ours, which is an entity that has no right to exist or be real because it fails all possible tests for real existence, yet is supremely real to each one of us. 事实上, consciousness is more than real, it is the arena in which our reality plays out its act. It is so fundamental to our experience and existence that we have a hard time accepting its ephemerality.

í, 一, believe logically that when I die, everything I will have known and experienced till then will just disappear. I believe that death is like an eternal dreamless sleep. Logically. But logic has very little to do with what I can feel and accept, emotionally. I don’t like to drag in the concept of “emotion” 这里; I am thinking of what I can accept at a gut-level. “Primally” would perhaps be a better word to use, but I am not sure. Any way, once we have conscious awareness, and develop a sense of temporal continuity about things and experiences around us, we cannot help assigning continuity to the backdrop of it all — our consciousness. Continuity of selfhood is encoded into our mind. Primally — yes, that would be the right word.

Logic and rationality, which come after the primal plumbing of the mind, 意识, selfhood etc. (which may all ultimately mean the same thing) is already in place, can influence our thinking only to a limited extent. Mind grasps at anything that offers a semblance of eternal continuity. Enter religions.

All conventional religions have some notion of a “灵魂,” which comes in different forms and with a multitude of meanings and contexts, 虽然, logically, it can only mean our consciousness, or an entity holding our consciousness and pretty much nothing else. Thanks to our primal need to search and find continuity, we readily buy into whatever notion of soul our parents’ religion happens to uphold, ignoring the gaping holes in logic associated with it. From the perspective of religions (speaking of religions as organizational entities with intentions and purposes), the notion of continuity implied in the concept of a soul has a great benefit — it completely alters the risk-reward analysis at the root of morality. And it takes out death (or at least, greatly diminishes its significance) in the analysis. For death is only the beginning, as the horror-comedy taught us.

If the wages of sin are eternal third-degree burns, not some material comfort followed by thirty-to-life in a federal facility till death sets you free, you do think twice before doing the crime. 该 “时间” that you may have to do could well be an eternity. Other religions offer other kinds of divine carrots and sticks. 例如, if you are a Hindu engaged in a particularly unsavory Karma, you will reincarnate as somebody (什么) on the receiving end of the stick, roughly neutralizing your risk-reward equation. 另一方面, if you are willing to take it on your chin with some amount of fortitude, you will be upgraded to business class in your next life.

In all notions of spiritual continuity of consciousness, and/or soul, there is something I find logically wanting. It is the lack of continuity of memory. Death is still a point of phase transition where all the existing memory is erased. If we think of soul as the eternal manifestation of mind and consciousness, erasing its memory is as good or as bad as killing it, is it not?

What I find interesting in this Hindu notion is that the ultimate reward for presumably the best possible Karma is not an eternal life of comfort in heaven, but a release from the cycle of reincarnations, 哪, 在我看来, is similar to an eternal dreamless sleep — which is the only logical notion of death we can scientifically entertain. 所以, in the Hindu notion of the reward for ultimate good is, in some sense, the ultimate death. Makes me wonder…


The temporal aspect of punishment extends beyond the span between the crime and its punishment. The severity of the punishment is also measured in terms of its duration. And death puts a definitive end to all man-made durations. This interference of death in our temporal horizons messes up what we mean by proportional punishment, which is the reason behind the general lack of gratification on Madoff’s long sentence. If a heinous crime like a senseless murder brings about only a life-sentence, and if you know that “生活” means only a couple of months or so, then the punishment in and of itself is incapable of deterring the crime. And when the crime is not as senseless, but prompted by careful material considerations, it is a deliberate risk-reward analysis that determines its commission. A comprehensive risk-reward analysis would involve, I imagine, a consideration of the probability of detection, the intensity and duration of the potential punishment, and the time one has to enjoy the spoils and/or suffer the punishment. There may be other factors to consider, 当然. I wouldn’t know because I haven’t actually done such analyses. Not yet.

The smallpox story I mentioned earlier brings these considerations to the foreground, along with how the relatively high probability of death from the disease affects them. Knowing that there isn’t much time to enjoy life (or face the music), two older gentlemen of the story decide to go and feast themselves on a local prostitute of the village whom they have been eying for a while. It is not that the consequences (spousal anger, bad diseases etc.) of their action have changed. Just that their potential duration has decreased drastically because of the outbreak of smallpox. Knowledge of our death has a dramatic effect on our moral inhibitions born out of risk-reward analyses.

It is in this light that we have to examine clichéd statements like, “Live in the present moment,” 或 “Live everyday as though it is your last.” What do these statements really mean? The second one is especially interesting because it makes a direct reference to death. Is it asking us to shed our inhibitions vis-à-vis all our actions? 如果是这样的, it may not be such a positive invitation (哪, 当然, is a statement of value-judgment emanating form a sense of a morality of unknown origins). Or it could be a simple exhortation not to procrastinate — a positive thing by the same uncertain morality.

“Living in the present” is even more puzzling. I guess it comes from the Zen notion of “这里” 和 “now.” I can kind of understand the Zen notion in terms of cognitive neuroscience, although that is the sort of thing that Zen would ask us not to do — understanding one thing in terms of something else. According to the Zen school, an experience has to be assimilated before the intellect has a chance to color it in terms of preconceived notions and filters. In the absolute stillness of a mind, presumably brought about by years of introspection and intense mediation, experiences take on perceptually accurate and intellectually uncolored forms, which they say is a good thing. If the statement “Live in the present moment” refers to this mode of experiencing life, fine, I can go with that, even though I cannot fully understand it because I am not a Zen master. And if I was, I probably wouldn’t worry too much about logically understanding stuff. Understanding is merely a misguided intellectual exercise in futility.

As a moral statement, 然而,, this invitation to live in the present moment leaves much to be desired. Is it an invitation to ignore the consequences of your actions? You compartmentalize your timeline into a large past, a large future and tiny present. You ignore the past and the future, and live in the present. No regrets. No anxieties. What else could this slogan “Live in the present moment” 意思?


Knowledge of death is a sad thing. Not as a general piece of information, but in as applied to a particular individual. I remember only too vividly my own sense of helplessness and sadness towards the end of my father’s life, when it became clear to me that he had only a few weeks left. Until then, I could never really understand the grief associated with death of a loved one, given the absolute certainty and naturalness of death. 事实上, I couldn’t understand my own grief and often wondered if I was romanticizing it, or feeling it because it was expected of me.

It is very difficult to know people, even ourselves. There are multiple obscuring levels of consciousness and existence in our inner selves. And we can penetrate only a limited number of them to see within ourselves. Therefore I find myself doubting my grief, despite its directly perceived realness and existence. Perhaps the grief arising from the loss of a loved one is so primal that we do not need to doubt it; but I cannot help doubting even the most obvious of feelings and sensations. 毕竟, I am the dude who goes around insisting that reality is unreal!

该 “loss” of a hated one, by virtue of its mathematical symmetry, should generate something like the opposite of grief. The opposite of grief is perhaps glee, although one is too civilized to let oneself feel it. 但严重的是, I once heard a stress reduction expert mention it. 他说,, “What if your boss stresses you out? Imagine, end of the day, he also will be dead!”

是的, the fact that we will all die is a serious social and moral problem. How much of a problem it is is not fully appreciated due to the taboo nature of the subject. I once read a novel in Malayalam describing a village in the sixties ravaged by smallpox. Some parts of this novel illustrated the connection between death and morality. 你看, morality is such a holy cow that we cannot examine it, much less question it, without being called all sorts of bad names. Being “良好” is considered a “良好” 事, and is taken to be beyond rationalization. 我的意思是, we may ask questions like, “What is good?”, “What makes something good, something else bad?” 等. But we cannot realistically ask the question, “Why should I be good?” Being good is just good, and we are expected to ignore the circularity in this statement.

For a minute, let’s not assume that being good is good. I think the knowledge of imminent death would make us shed this assumption, 但我们会得到它后. For now, let’s think of morality as a logical risk-reward calculation, rather than a god-given axiom. If somebody proposes to you, “Why don’t you shoot to be a drug dealer? [Pun attempted] Good money there…,” your natural reaction would be, “Drugs kill people, killing people is bad, no way I am getting into it.” 现在, that is a moral stance. If you were amoral, you may think, “Drug dealing involves violence. There is a good chance that I will get shot or caught. Thirty to life in a federal penitentiary is no walk in the park. No way I am getting into it.” This is a risk-reward analysis, but with the same end result.

I put it to you that the origin of most of our morality is this risk-reward analysis. If it wasn’t, why would we need the police and the criminal justice system? It is this risk-reward analysis that can get skewed because of an impending death, if we let ourselves notice it. 你看, the concept of crime and punishment (or action and consequence, to be value-neutral) is not so simple, like most things in real life. To be a deterrent, the severity of punishment has to be proportional, not only to the foulness of the crime, but also to the probability of its detection. 例如, if you know that you will get caught every single time you speed, speeding tickets need not cost you thousands of dollars — a couple of dollars will do the trick of discouraging you from speeding. Such minuscule punishments do exist for little “crimes.” In public toilets, leaving the shower or sink faucet running would be a small crime because it wastes water, and the landlord’s funds. To fight this crime came spring-loaded faucets that shut themselves down after ten or 15 seconds. So you get “caught” every time you try to leave the water running, but the “punishment” is merely that you have to push the release button again. Now we have faucets with electronic sensors with even shorter temporal horizons for crime and punishment.

The severity of a pain is not merely its intensity, but its duration as well. Given that death puts a definitive end to our worldly durations, how does it affect our notion of punishment commensurate with crime? My third post on the philosophy of death will examine that aspect.


死亡是一个禁忌的话题. 我们不应该再说吧, 甚至想想. 这是,如果我们这样做几乎像, 死亡可能把我们的通知, 我们可以不那样的关注做. 如果我们想不显眼,在任何地方都, 它是在死亡的面前.

我一直在看 六英尺下 最近, 这可能是对这些死亡背后的沉思. 我很好奇,虽然 — 为什么会死这么忌讳的话题, 尽管它的自然必然性? 我指的不是那种迷信禁忌 (“别, 别, 别, 你不会很快死去任何时间, TOUCHWOOD!”), 但那种智力. 那种寒意自带一下,如果你抱着试试看的一个关于它的谈话在啤酒或在餐桌上. 为什么死这样的禁忌?

如果说我们只是害怕死亡是有点过于简单化了. 当然,我们害怕死亡, 但我们担心公众演讲更多, 但我们仍然可以谈论后者. 我们必须找到死亡的特殊tabooness其他原因.

唯一特别的是死亡,这是一个伟大的均衡器 — 事实上,几乎太明显升值. 每个人都死了 — 不管什么东西,他们做他们的生活. 也许是现场的这种终极练级可能有点令人痛心的竞争力在我们中间. 但是我们高飙升, 不过还是低,我们沉沦, 在我们的日子结束, 比分是全部复位,板岩擦拭干净.

这石板擦业务也很麻烦的另一个原因. 它是如此该死的永久. 它的持久性有一个从来没有出现在任何其他种类的痛苦和苦难,我们经历方面 (包括公开演讲). 我的一个个人的技术来处理轻微疼痛 (如根管, 甚至更深的伤口像一个爱人的损失) 就是利用眼前这个缺乏持久性的. 我提醒自己,这是要通过, 及时. (出于某种奇怪的原因, 我这样做法语, “CA VA PAS下午,” 虽然, 是正确的, 我想我应该告诉自己, “它不会持久。”) 我甚至分享这个技巧的儿子时,他摔断了胳膊,在难以忍受的疼痛. 我告诉他,痛苦会很快消退. 好, 我说用不同的词语, 我看中了小家伙​​的理解, 虽然他不停地尖叫着他的头.

我们可以处理任何 “正常” 疼痛由只等它出来, 死亡但不痛, 它持续不断. CA丢勒. 背后是我们害怕它这个永恒? 也许. 凭借绝对的持久性来绝对不透水性, 任何蜘蛛侠迷会喜欢. 是什么样的超越卒年不详. 和不可知. 尽管世界上所有的宗教告诉我们,各种神秘的事情是什么谎言超越 (你知道, 就像天堂和地狱, 因果报应和轮回等。), 没有人真的相信它. 我知道, 我知道, 有些人可能会坚持诚实,他们真的真的, 但是,当推来推, 在一种本能, 肠道级, 没有人做. 甚至那些谁是一定的,他们最终会在天上. 否则为什么圣洁的人有安全细节? 在 人性的枷锁, 毛姆漫画这种奇怪的缺乏 (或不可能) 真正的信仰VIS-à-VIS死在他的Blackstable的教区牧师的最后几天的写照.

生活的目的任何意义, 我认为我们必须忽略死亡. 存在一个有限范围仅仅是荒谬的,多层次的. 它使我们所有的崇高目标和理想荒谬. 它使我们的意识善恶荒谬. 它使任何我们认为是荒唐的生活的目的. 它甚至使生命的目的,适度的基于DNA的进化解释建议 (我们只是想一点更长寿) 荒谬, 相比时的时间的无限远为任何有限增量中的寿命基本上是零, 作为书呆子的人在我们中间会很容易理解. 简而言之, 仅存在一个与生活实际问题, 这是死亡. 既然我们无法避免死亡,缴税, 可能是我们能够避免思考和谈论它 — 死亡背后的话题的禁忌性质的一个似是而非的理由.


雷从个人所得税的同学去世前几天. 当我听到这个令人震惊的消息, 我想写一些关于他. 什么来铭记一对夫妇的脱节回忆, 我想我会在这里分享. 为了怕造成更多的痛苦,那些接近他的, 我会保留所有的标识引用到最低限度.

我们习惯称他为PJ — 的缩写,轻度侮辱性的词句, 这可能有其原产地在我们的学术羡慕. PJ是学术上的辉煌, 毕业在班上名列前茅充满了几乎病态的竞争,明亮IITians. 这个强度,他所承受的少超人是我的第一个记忆的一部分.

这个强度的困扰, 我们曾经组团来吸引PJ的更好的性质. 我不记得是谁发起的这, 甚至谁在那里,在代表团. 但可以肯定的感觉的东西,力士或鼠会做; 库蒂或, 也许, 如果我们能够让他在所有做任何事. 无论如何, 我们走近PJ,并请他放轻松. “有什么大不了的, 人? 缓慢且持续​​的人会赢得比赛, 你知道。” PJ的反应是大开眼界. “肯定,” 他说:, “但快速稳定好!”

我敢肯定,这个速度与激情PJ的辉煌步伐,在一生中也许是最好在其质量上而不是数量衡量给他带来了许多当之无愧的荣誉后, 影响,而不是长寿. 但PJ从来没有一个全工和,不玩的家伙. 我记得有一次,当MardiGras女孩来到Mandak食堂 (“乱”) 吃. 与倒霉的热情,只有一个家伙IITian可以充分体会学习他们, 我们讨论了这方面的发展与PJ. 他说,, “是的, 我们要惹他们!”

个人所得税发生在我们这个时代,当友谊来得容易和伪造债券保持强劲. 随着PJ消失,连接有点弱, 我觉得有点瓦解的. 那响在我心中惆怅的话提醒了我 — 不要问丧钟为谁而鸣, 它的通行费你.

PJ是一个才华横溢的人. 我希望他的辉煌将是力量和勇气的来源,那些接近他. 你知道他们说什么, 蜡烛在燃烧一半的两倍亮的烧伤,只要. 随着我国亮的蜡烛一出火焰, 我的感觉是有些黑暗感下降远的地方.

照片由 armin_vogel cc