Life, a labour of love
LE3 .A278 2005
Bachelor of Arts
In this thesis, I will attempt to prove that the kind of life a person leads results in a certain attitude towards death. I want to explore the attitudes of fear and acceptance and the kinds of lives which result in these attitudes. My theory is that those who have led meaningful lives â€“ lives wherein they have affirmed something which even the prospect of their death cannot destroy; cannot nullify â€“ may accept death simpliciter â€“ i.e. without the need for qualification. For them, death is not something to be feared, even if it represents â€œno more chances,â€ because they have lived the right sort of life. Thus, they do not need any more chances to get it right; they do not feel as though they wasted their lives. In other words, death does not threaten the quality of their lives, only its quantity. By contrast, those who have affirmed nothing as more valuable than survival â€“ those who have, essentially, lived the â€œwrongâ€ kind of life (by their own standards) â€“ will have an unnatural fear of death, especially when confronted with its imminence. By â€œunnatural fearâ€ I mean a fear which goes beyond a useful fear of the uncertain; I mean a fear which dominates, if not paralyzes, the fearerâ€™s life. Those who experience this unnatural fear of death will view death as destroyer of life, because when faced with the prospect of no more chances to do things right, the fearer realizes he has wasted his time â€“ his life â€“ and he cannot get it back. Thus, how we view death is greatly influenced by how we view the quality of our lives. If we have done what we have wanted to with our time, the only thing left to fear is time. My primary concern is with those who experience an unnatural fear of death. I will begin by examining the kind of life which results in this attitude. By using this method, we may come to identify the key factors which contribute to this fear. My suspicion is that those who have an unnatural fear of death are those whose lives are characterized by fear of uncertainty and need for control. I do not want to stop with the mere identification of these factors, however. I do not want the fearer to remain in fear. I want him to overcome the tyranny of fear so that he may open himself to uncertainty and come to accept death; and, by that same token, come to lead a life concerned with meaning. My theory is that in order to do this, he needs both consciousness of his condition and an affirmation of something more valuable than survival. Consciousness enables him to identify his condition and affirmation enables him to transcend it.
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