What is life according to philosophy

Cultural education

Before Yves Bossart, presenter of the program "Sternstunde Philosophie", presented the students (9th grade) with some reflections on philosophy on the subject of death, he began with a more general presentation of the core concerns of philosophy.

Before Yves Bossart, presenter of the program "Sternstunde Philosophie", introduced the pupils (9th grade) to some reflections on philosophy on the subject of death, he began with a more general presentation of the core concerns of philosophy. He explained that clarification was more fundamental Terms go.

For example, those present would likely have an idea of ​​what time meant, while defining it more precisely would be difficult. Furthermore, philosophy also reflects on norms and values, nothing should be taken for granted, while at the same time everything requires a justification. This would result in new perspectives on the world and the self, after all, dealing with a theory also shapes one's own perception. Philosophy thus teaches critical thinking and amazement at the everyday.

In an initial approach to the subject of the event, Bossart proposed a definition of what death is. He emphasized that death is usually a painful loss or a major offense. On the other hand, it is also an occasion to ask about the meaning of life (what about everyday actions against the background of mortality, for example). Looking at the phenomenal level, death could be defined as the "irreversible end of life". This occurs - according to medical discourse - either in the case of cardiac death, the end of all vital functions or brain death, the end of brain functions and thus the This is followed by the questions of what exactly death means. What about life after death? Bossart gave the students a brief overview of the religions' answers to this question, from resurrection to the transmigration of souls In contrast, a (natural) scientific perspective would have to deny the possibility of life after death or the like, since without a functioning brain there would be no consciousness. The fact that there are representatives of all these positions in philosophy indicates raises a fundamental problem: the question cannot be answered, the most important question is what one should / can believe.

Following these considerations, the students were shown a film that illustrated the following thought experiment: If assumptions depend solely on the fact that they cannot be refuted, almost any bizarre assumption can be justified. In the case of the film, it is the assumption that the earth is permanently orbited by a teapot, but it is so small that we cannot see it. These explanations made it clear that assumptions should also depend on good reasons. But how does it then relate to the existence of an afterlife: "Does it make sense to believe in something whose existence cannot be proven?"

Participants were divided on this question. However, in the ensuing debate, the main argument was for the existence of an afterlife. The students pointed out the knowledge barrier, near-death experiences and the like. down. Following the contributions of the students, Bossart explained that there are different opinions about the general assessment of death. Starting his remarks with the philosopher Epicurus, he emphasized that death does not necessarily have to be relevant: "Death is none of our business because as long as we are, death is not, and when death is, we are no longer. “The participants criticized that this argument was an empirical approach and that a potential fear of death would remain unaffected by this approach. Following Lucretius, Bossart presented an argument that pointed to the fact that nonexistence The assumption that it could interfere after death was absurd. Some students pointed out that before birth, however, there was nothing that could have been taken from you. Contrary to these positions, one could contradict these positions But also to argue that death is a good thing, explained Bossart. In this sense, Plato postulated the detachment of the soul from the body, but also the (modern) Philoso ph Bernard Williams argues that only through death is life given meaning, since immortality condemns to lethargy and boredom. In the discussion with the ninth graders who had traveled, it became clear that the majority shared this view. Although a fundamental extension of life seemed to make sense to many, they fear a loss of meaning in the event of real immortality. Complementing the picture, reference was made to Thomas Nagel, who argues that death takes away our experience. Life is good - the longer the better.

At the end of the event the question was asked how "learning to die" works. Again, based on various philosophical positions, three different approaches could be identified. For many ancient thinkers, the constant concern about death (symbolically in the saying memento mori) was constitutive for a good life. In this sense, Seneca can be quoted as "Always think of death so that you never fear it". A similar idea is also reflected in Heidegger's "Vorlaufen zum Tode"; a figure of thought that reflects on how our life from the deathbed would be assessed. The event concluded with Spinoza's contrary position: "The free person thinks of nothing less than death, and his wisdom is not a meditation on death, but on life. "

by Simon Clemens