Tuesday, December 28, 2004

After we die

MelbournePhilosopher

I was reading "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius - a translated version obviously.

One of the ideas I have heard is that before modern times, whenever you might consider that to be, the idea of the future was that it would be much like the past. That is to say, people will still be farming, the world will always be made up of kingdoms of one sort or other. The people may change, but the lives of people will not. This is clearly the view of this particular Emporer.

Today, the rate of technological change is clearly suggestive of a future which is massively different from the past. Maybe our children will live forever. We might travel to other planets, encounter alien lives. We might engineer ourselves better brains, and uncover deeper secrets of the universe than ever before. The cosmic myth may open its mysteries.

One of the points made by Aurelius is that one need not fear death, for the future holds no special value to us. Our feelings tomorrow will be much like today. For what are we really striving? There is no goal that can ever be reached, for we will always have access only to the same life we had yesterday. Once we realise this, we also realise that tomorrow is no great thing, to be valued no higher than yesterday. Then, with equinimity, we place how well we live more imporant than how long we live.

Is that still true?

3 Comments:

Blogger Cranky Liberal said...

Hm interesting post. I'd argue (well I'd argue over anything probably) that those are not mutualy exclusive positions. I think how you live life is important, but the time to do all the things we wish is critical for most people to achieve their dreams.

12/28/2004 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger Genius said...

Whatever your dreams are - in the end things tend to average out. Our dreams may now be more ambitious in absolute terms but absolute doesn't matter - it is reltivity that matters.

12/31/2004 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

I suppose that might be true, although it's related to the ideas expressed in Alain de Botton's "Status Anxiety" that people are now less comfortable with poverty, because it is now seen as a personal failing.

Tomorrow we "must" improve, the future is more valuable than the past, we must always strive for greater things...

1/02/2005 11:51:00 PM  

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