The Fear of Death Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #58927492

Excerpt from Essay :

Fear of death is typically referred to by researchers as death anxiety. The phenomenon has been split into several categories. There is the fear of pain, the fear of the unknown, the fear of losing a loved one, and the fear of the consequences that may arise because of the loss of a loved one. The fear of not being able to survive is the prominent one among these fears. Many people are terrified at the fact that death is the end of one's life. Science does not help matters either. It, instead, aggravates the fear. No aspect of science has ever unveiled any element of the human body that can exist long after death. Thus, most scientists view death as biological process. This is the reason that makes many people still fear the consequences of death; even when they are devout religious believers of life after death (Hanson).

Stoicism, Atheism, Epicureanism and the Fear of Death

Atheism refers to neither believing that there is God nor a divine being that controls life and the universe. The latest studies show that despite their opposite perspectives in belief, the two groups have something peculiarly common between them. It has been observed that believers and atheists show the least fear of death. Researchers at Oxford University perused earlier research reports to establish the relationship between the tendency to be religious and fearing death. They sought to establish whether belief in the supernatural mitigates the fear of death. The research demonstrates that people who do not believe in death seem to find solace in the event of death. Further, the research established that those who were only religious for social and or emotional reasons were the most terrified by the prospect of death (Wink & Scott).

Most atheists believe in the philosophy of naturalism. This view of life rejects miracles. Such a person only sees oblivion as the final end. Thus, it means that the end of life is ideally a cessation in which there is nothing like pain, pleasure, activity, hell, heaven; and thus, no such thing as punishment for sins. In fact, an atheist does not subscribe to the concept of sin. Science has shown that people who face death with little anguish are absolute atheists and devout Christians. The implication of this study is that atheists subconsciously believe in God (Wink & Scott).

According to Epicureanism, fearing death is an irrational tendency. According to Epicurus, the acknowledgement of the fear of death and such actions as
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punishment are the main cause of anxiety among humans. Further, Epicurus points out that anxiety is the origin of irrational and extreme desires. If the desires were eliminated, and the fears extinguished, people would be set free to pursue their pleasures; physically and mentally. They would consequently enjoy their life more and have peace of mind as their achieved and expected contentment (Konstan).

According to Konstan, the main argument presented by Epicurus is the one on "no harm subject"; he argues that if death is really bad, it is bad for someone. However, death cannot be possibly bad for those still living. It is equally not bad for the dead because they do not exist. It means that while we are still living, death in non-existent. When we die on the other hand, we do not exist. Consequently, since death does not affect the living and the dead, there is no rational cause to fear it. It means that death does not have meaning to us. Epicureans present a more forceful argument against death. It is referred to as the symmetry argument. It was first applied by a Roman disciple of Epicurus called Lucretius. He postulated that since we are not horrified at our nonexistence in the past, it does not make sense to fear our future nonexistence either. This is because both situations are similar.

According to Robertson, Stoics, just like philosophers of old times, believed that it was essential to meditate on one's own prospect of death regularly. This practice questioned the fear that most of us have about death. Stoics hold that all human evil, cowardice and mean spiritedness isn't really death but the fear of it. This fear has been marked as the most punishing one among all existing fears. According to Stoics, it is important to train oneself to not fear death. Once one achieves this state of mind, they begin to enjoy their freedom to live and hence enjoy their life.

Ironically, excessive fear of death actually leads to death itself before its due time. People who fear their own death never do anything worthy in their life. Those who have liberated themselves from the fear of death have also unlearned being their own slave. It should be appreciated that death is a natural process and is inevitable. Natural philosophy, therefore, encourages us not to view death as something unexpected. Instead, it encourages people to prepare for death and let go of life in a magnanimous way.

According to Stoics, fearing death is the most insidious, irrational and toxic passion. Indeed, the same Stoics held that the fear of death is the root of most of the irrational fears that humans have. They described it as the cardinal vice…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Hanson, Robin. "Fear of Death and Muddled Thinking -- It Is So Much Worse Than You Think," 2005, Accessed 29 Apr. 2017.

Konstan, David. "Epicurus." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, September 2016, Accessed 29 Apr. 2017.

Lacewing, Michael. "Descartes, the cogito and clear and distinct ideas. " Philosophy for AS: Epistemology and Philosophy of Religion. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 106-117.

Robertson, Donald. "Stoicism and the Art of Happiness." London: Hodder & Stoughton General Division, 2014.

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