A bit morbid perhaps, but the redoubtable Philosophy Now magazine does throw up some interesting angles on death.
Some say, along with religion, that the main reason philosophy exists, is millennia of thinking folk coping with their own mortality.
So handy to come across a timeless thought from Voltaire, via Schopenhauer:
“Non-existence after death cannot be different from non-existence before birth.”
Interesting. Given I don’t sweat the 8 billion years I wasn’t here before, why am I so put out by those I’ll miss when I’m a goner?
Whatever evolutionary or intellectual remnant of me might persist, I will be returned to Schopenhauer’s ‘pure Will’ – the restless energy of the universe – probably bouncing about in random particle form.
It’s quite a relief. I wasn’t around for dinosaurs and I’m not too sad. So why am I worried about missing the first Mars landing or the discovery of extra-terrestrial life? I wasn’t here for the sparking up of the Sun or the origin of multicellular life. Who was? It all behoves me, as ever, to live for the day, enjoy the moment and focus on the here and now.
I’m sat ‘suited and booted’ on a sunny step writing this, in a lunchtime pause from work. Feels a bit odd not to be bustling about. And the odd passer by is looking at me a bit strangely – but why not sit in a suit on a sunny step?
These atoms will only be in this configuration for another four decades or so – so let’s make the most of them.