Death is the absolute opposite of existence, it cannot be perceived.
There is no such thing called death on the perceptual level and it is
the absolute nonexistence. It is only possible to grasp nothingness
when one understands nonexistence of perception. The nothingness we
concieve and perceive of, could only be a constructed one.
Humans are the only living beings that not only can know,
but also can know that he knows, and cannot be unknowledgeable of what
he knows. Thus it is impossible for us to be oblivious of the knowledge
that we are mortal. But the death we conceive of is
unknowable because we can't experience it. Caught in this dilemma,
death is the impulsive force that creates meaning.
It is in some way true that we don't want to believe in mortality. When
we do, we may think that life is meaningless and trying harder to get
along is futile. If we look at this problem in a Lacanian way, death
was what humans had wanted in the first place. From the moment he was
born, a human baby wants to get back to
the mother's womb, he dreams of being dead. When in the womb, he
wasn't a being that is separate from his mother, he "was" his mother, a
state of absolute peace. After realising through the mirror stage that
he is a separate being and there exists other such conscious beings,
he desires something out of this world. We can say that in some sense,
this desire might be "death".
It is often expressed in the works of existentialists
that life and death are interdependent. Seneca puts, "No man
enjoys the true taste of life, but he who is ready and willing to quit
it." Which means the ones that are conscious of the knowledge of death
can better appreciate life. But it is so cumbersome for a human being to
live with this knowledge all the time. Because death is the greatest
defeat of mind. The only thing a consciousness cannot grasp is the
non-existence of itself.
Perhaps this is why public execution is abolished with the coming of
modernism, the age of reason. Graveyards are thrown out
of the city and funeral ceremonies are not what they used to
be. The More distant the idea of death, the stronger reason feels.
Enlightenment is in this sense the only way to fight the tension
between knowledge of death and human mind. Which is to make the idea of
death something mundane; or to throw it away--modernism accomplished
One can imagine a reality in which there are no stars and galaxies,
and even no matter; but he cannot think of a reality where there is no
thought. Thus death, in its most clear form, is ultimate absurdity. It
is impossible to think there is no reason. Such nonexistence, could be
only thought of by means of rejection. Thinking about death is actually
rejecting it altogether.
We act as if we are not going to die. This is a perfect accomplishment,
despite the whatever the circumstances are. It is the triumph of will over
reason. Whenever we see that no effort is being made for this
disbelief, we doubt that it is of individual origin. Disbelief of
death must be already allowed for, confirmed, and made into law. We owe
our awareness of absurdity of death, to being social animals with
language in society and culture.
"It seems that I know that I know. What I would like to see is
the eye that knows me when I know that I know that I know."