The Nature of Death Essay

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Human beings often have preconceived notions or fears regarding the abstract idea of death. Two Hellenistic philosophers Epicurus and Epictetus take very different approaches to prove that death is insignificant and nothing to worry about. Epicurus argues that death is the unequivocal end of our existence, and Epictetus claims it is something that we have no control over. Both examine the nature of death in an attempt to achieve ataraxia or a tranquil state of mind. However, Epicurus and Epictetus fail to address the true emotional nature of death and its impact on the human psyche. Accepting these philosophies requires an inherent selfishness that cannot possibly lead to achieving a tranquil and essentially good life. Epicurus argues all…show more content…
However, death eradicates the subject, so if Sam does not exist nothing can be said of him. The predicate cannot logically be bound to a subject that does not exist. Following this explanation, death cannot be bad because good or bad can only be connected to something if it exists. Epicurus aims to achieve ataraxia with the absence of pain, and he attempts to do so by rendering the nature of death as insignificant. He promotes a life of hedonism and fails to mention that although a person who dies will feel nothing, it has a profound effect on the lives of those around them. Essentially Epicurus’ philosophy does not incorporate the lives or ataraxia of other people. It promotes one to live a life dedicated simply to one’s own pleasure and happiness. Another Hellenistic philosopher Epictetus also argues that death is nothing to us. However, he claims that death is not within our control, and being unhappy about the nature of it will only prevent us from achieving a state of happiness or tranquility. He explains that it is against nature to try to change one’s inevitable fate, but instead we can control our feelings about it. Epictetus asserts that death is neither bad or good, “…death is nothing dreadful, (or else it would have appeared dreadful to Socrates), but instead the judgment about death that it is dreadful- that is what is dreadful” (13). Epictetus explains that we should look inwardly to refute our incorrect judgments
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