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The Illogical Fear of Death, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 666

Essay

Death is a concept that seems, on its surface, concrete and finite–easily defined and described. The best definition humans–who admittedly do not understand most things about the universe around them–can propose is in fact a simple one; the end of a life, or when a living thing ceases to live are the only words needed really. To actually think that the above definition incorporates the entirety of the concept death, however, is ludicrous. The average person would probably agree with this as well, for a whole host of different reasons. On the whole there is one thing that most people do agree on regarding death, and that is the fear the word brings along with it. Due to the nature of death as a concept it lends itself to be feared, however when analyzed through a scholarly lens one thing becomes abundantly clear–the fear of death is illogical, in concurrence with Plato’s analysis in The Apology, but only explained by the nature of human beings.

Socrates, the protagonist in The Apology, asserts that in fact the fear of death is more than illogical, but actually a “conceit of knowledge” and a “pretense of wisdom”. These are two strong statements that most could not truly make sense of, but Plato’s wisdom shows through in his character. These statements are very loaded, and right on target–presuming that death is something that needs to be feared is unfounded speculation, as nobody can actually say what happens during and after death.

Interestingly enough, many people have religious beliefs that give them explanations for what happens after death. In most religions, it is a safe bet that unless you were a horrible person, you were going to ascend to a paradise-like place for the rest of eternity. This makes the fear of death even more presumptuous and illogical–in addition to presuming they know something they never could know, they fear that which they believe is inherently positive.

The last sections of The Apology, specifically 38c to the end of the story, explain Plato’s views on death in a very telling way. When speaking of his own death sentence, Socrates wisely explains his calm demeanor, as well as his unwillingness to beg for his life. These lines are very important–he sees it much easier to outrun death than “wickedness”, which he accuses the jury of. This supports even the religions–if you live a good life, you will be rewarded when you die, although to Socrates death seemed like it contained a certain amount of inquisitiveness as well. In fact, he directly says “Well, now it is time to be off, I to die and you to live; but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God” (42a).

That quote brings to light another brilliant question–whether the living are in a better place than the dead, or if there is an infinite paradise waiting after this life. The main point Plato was trying to make with his character Socrates is there is no way to know, therefore the fear is inherently irrational–especially in the mind of the decent person.

So, although fear of death is clearly illogical, it is human nature that keeps it alive in a paradoxical way. At the end of the day, it is nothing more than fear of the unknown which seems to be wired into most humans that fuels the fear of death. So it is irrational to fear something that you do not understand, but also a natural reaction to fear it as well–completely paradoxical. It is scientifically proven that this is indeed a natural reaction of the brain, and can actually physically manifest itself as panic attacks (Phobia Fear, 2013). This really adds to the complexity of the human brain, and how often we are indeed our own worst enemies.

Works Cited

Plato. The Apology. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

“Do You Suffer From Fear Of The Unknown?” Fear Of The Unknown. How To Get Rid    Of Fear Of The Unknown. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2013. <http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/fear-of-the-unknown.html>.

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