the meaning of life and death

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Explaining the abstract concept of life by simplistic aspects such as breathing, singing, or being animated is insufficient in this century because traditional machines provided the ability to execute such basic functions. The problem with defining death is that it is not as enigmatic and vague as describing existence. For thousands of years, thinkers have struggled to interpret death and existence for one simple reason: every religious figure or philosopher attempts to define and understand the essence of life and death from its own particular viewpoint. Therefore, the most seemingly and appropriate approach to this dilemma is to understand the ideas as presented by various philosophers and religions, using this knowledge develop an elaborate definition for life and death. There are many speculations about the next life after death; this paper aims to focus that death is something real, and once it occurs, a person ceases to exist.

The film Blade Runner takes a multi-disciplinary approach in an attempt to finally develop a concrete definition of life and death logically and spiritually. Through taking a position that demise is a definite idea that is easily explained, the movie accomplishes its task of interpreting life in regards to death (Scott). According to the movie’s approach, the understanding of life is redefined to entail the existence of “replicants.” Besides, according to this movie’s understanding of life, it is evident that “replicants” and humans never actually live, though they might be alive. However, the idea of death according to Blade Runner appear to differ for humans and “replicants,” though they undergo the same horror. When a human is killed, the character in the movie is said to be murdered, on the other hand, when a “replicant” is killed, the character is referred to as undergone “retirement.” The movie is synonymous with the two terms, though according to Merriam Webster online dictionary, murder is destroying or putting to an end, whereas retirement means to put a halt from a project (Merriam-Webster).

According to Mason, the concept of death and dying in itself is empty. He contends that no picture comes into the mind. However, the concept of death has its use for those still living. Whereas, death itself provides no use for anybody or anything. All that can be said about death is that it is either real or unreal. If real, then end of an individual’s life is a modest termination. But if death is not real, an end of a person’s embodied life mark the transition to another life but not true death. Therefore, in the absence of content about death, humans talk about death metaphorically (Mason). For people who believe death is not real, then it is a door to an afterlife. Similarly, for individuals who perceive death as real, then it is an empty wall. Regardless of what people think or say about death- whether it is a door or a wall-it is impossible to avoid the use of metaphors. In many instances, if a person dies, people would say that he or she is released from suffering. If death is real, therefore it is metaphorical to say or even think that dead people do not suffer as though some part of them stays not to suffer.

By exploring the allegory that death is like a wall in a deeper context, everyone is brought to this world facing the wall. From that very moment onwards, every step one takes regardless of the direction leads towards the wall (Lyke 472). In simple terms, there exist no other direction someone can take around this wall. Just like a mirror in a fun house, the wall of death shows an individual’s distorted images and living fears to them. All a person can see by staring at the death is a reflected image of their lives. There exist no subjective meaning for death, it comes to other people but not to a living person. It is true that everybody will have to die at some point, however, as long as a person lives they live towards a future possibility of no longer experiencing possibilities through death. Thus, death signifies the end of a person’s future. The unavoidable understanding is that if it is real, then nobody who is alive will have to personally to experience it, because they will cease their consciousness before their end no matter how close they come to death. Therefore, death retreats before an individual, and they die for other people. The dead person will no longer be there to experience death, and death is understood from the viewpoint of the living (Johnsen 1681). Death is not considered experience in an individual’s life.

A similar confusion sets in when attempting to explain the meaning of life. The most common challenge in this question is the sort of answer sought is not clear. Scholars have suggested rephrasing the question of life to “What it makes life worth living” (Howell et al. 1690). There are various subjective responses to this question. All one has to do is figure out any possible reasons why they consider themselves glad to be alive. Then there is the question of “what is the meaning of your life.” People have attempted to respond to the question objectively by mentioning what consider is an ideal life for them. It is worthwhile to note that there exist some conditions of life that humans consider not conducive for flourishing. However, it is convincing that there should be a right way in which to live, and suggesting that indicates arrogance of the unimaginable proportions.

Another possible way to understand life is rephrasing the question what is life to “What is the purpose of life?” Again, the response is subjective because everyone has their own individual purposes, however some believe of the existence of a higher purpose ordained by a superior being, perhaps the creator. Therefore, this understanding creates a debate whether it makes life an aspect of greater value or turn people into something equivalent to rats in a lab experiment. Howell (1690) observes “As flies to wanton boys we are to the gods – they kill us for their sport.” The concept of life does not need any external justification because there is no reason to have a purpose separate from the very objectives that are generated by life. There seems to not be any answer at all on the question of “why are we here?”. However, it is wrong to conclude that life, in essence, is meaningless. Life is a meaningful aspect of humans thus has meaning.

One trouble that shrouds the discussion of death is the intrinsic fear people have on death. For this reason, humans tend to avoid the subject of death in actions and thoughts. However, if one can put aside their fears for a moment, people can comprehend more visibly how the concept is interesting from a more isolated perspective. Death and Birth mark the bookends of human life. Living towards our death or the “blank wall” with time gives one a framework and direction in life which is responsible for the changes that occur with life (Mason). The world appears differently across different ages. Young people always look forward with optimism, whereas, the old look back perhaps to rekindle old memories and the fear of what awaits them. What matters to an individual changes as they get older. Maybe the prospect of dying advises such transformations. Even though for young people, they have the rational understanding that death comes to everybody, however, their mortality is still not real to them (Lyke 472). On the other hand, to the old people mortality has already sunk into their minds.

In summary, coming to terms with the topic of death entails reflecting on the essence of life in one’s life and the larger aspects that provide life with meaning. Lastly, it is imperative to only think about death to a pint that it enables us to enjoy our lives fully the time we still have on this world.

Works Cited

Blade Runner. Directed by Ridley Scott, Perf. Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young. 1982.

Howell, Andrew J., et al. “Meaning in Nature: Meaning in Life as a Mediator of the Relationship Between Nature Connectedness and Well-Being.” Journal of Happiness Studies, vol. 14, no. 6, 2012, pp. 1681-1696.

Johnsen, Bredo. “Ludwig Wittgenstein.” Oxford Scholarship Online, vol. 14, no. 16, 2017, pp. 1681-1696.

Lyke, Jennifer. “Associations Among Aspects of Meaning in Life and Death Anxiety in Young Adults.” Death Studies, vol. 37, no. 5, 2013, pp. 471-482.

Mason, Jeff. “Death and Its Concept – The Philosophers’ Magazine.” The Philosophers’ Magazine – The Philosophers’ Magazine, 31 Jan. 2015,

Merriam-Webster. “Definition of MURDER.” Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s Most-trusted Online Dictionary, . Accessed 28 July 2018.

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