[ExI] "death gives meaning to life"

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Jun 10 06:20:50 UTC 2008

At 10:51 PM 6/9/2008 -0700, Lee wrote:

>I also agree with you strongly that we really cannot
>charge the author of this wicked phrase with claiming
>that death gives the only meaning to life, or even
>that death gives the primary meaning to life.

No, in my experience the way the phrase is trotted out usually means 
exactly that--as one can see from the ancillary claptrap. "If there 
were no death, people would lose interest in everything, grow 
terminally [!!] bored, drift into idle pleasure-seeking, stop caring 
about each other, lose their righteous fear of God's punishment," 
blah blah. It might be true, but we have no basis for asserting it, 
except by analogy with brainless leeches who inherit great wealth and 
ruin themselves; that has some force, but fails to take account of 
other experiences with great wealth, such as Bill Gates's, say.

But it's also true that a suppressed premise generally goes along the 
lines of "interfering with the divine plan for humans," something 
which is intrinsically, deontologically naughty but also prudentially 
wrong since the true deep meaning of life is an afterlife that can 
only be attained by dying. The meaning of a pupa's existence is the 
butterfly imago. If that were true, and demonstrably so, my attitude 
would be very different (as it was when I was young and more 
gullible, poor pupa). But note: the status of the saved supernatural 
imago is then purportedly *immortal* (in the major faiths, anyway) 
and hence, one must suppose, ex hypothesi eternally *meaningless*. Oh 
woe! Wouldn't it rot your boots!

Damien Broderick 

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