Is It Rational to Fear Death?

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Sydney Caron

Topic: Is it rational to fear death? If so, what is the relation (if any) between the badness of death and the rationality of fearing it? If not, explain why many people fear death.

To Fear Death is to Waste Life

When considering whether or not it is rational to fear death, I argue that the fear of death is an irrational fear. In order to support my argument, I will consider three main reasons why people fear death and how the fear of death ties directly to the badness that is believed of death. I will also outline Epicurus’ point of view on death and the reason for my own personal belief that death is not to be feared.

Is it rational to fear death?

Is it rational to fear death? No. A better question is: Is it rational to fear a wasted life and face death with nothing to proudly and happily look back on? Yes. I am currently 20 years old; I already find myself with regrets about the past, dissatisfaction about the present, and anxiety about the future. How is it that this is even possible? I, if God should will it, should live at least 60 more years! Yet, here I am, waiting, worrying and wondering if my life will be of worth at all. Continuously, I find myself doing something or not doing something in hope or fear that it will impact my future either positively or negatively. Eventually, after 20 years of exhausting contemplation, I came to a conclusion; I’ve been waiting to live, planning to live, wanting to live, all while living. I began to look around, watch others, pay attention to the paths they’ve decided to follow, and I again came to a conclusion: It seems as though we as humans spend a large amount of time fearing death, we avoid risks in life, so that in the end, we can make it safely to death. How absurd…So why do people fear death so much so that they sacrifice their life in order to avoid it? In contemplating this, I came up with 3 of many reasons why people fear death:

1) People fear the unknown. Death is one of those things that just sort of happens, it doesn’t give you a timer, it doesn’t tell you how long you’ve got, it just happens when it happens, whether you’re ready for it or not. This fact in itself is one of the many reasons people fear death. Fearing the unknown isn’t something that applies to every part of human life; people desire to discover the unknown; this is true for outer space, the ocean, and the many unexplainable natural happenings and wonders that exist in our world, yet few people live in fear of those unknowns. But when it comes to death, this is an unknown that tends to be feared as it does not affect your current life like the other unknowns do, in fact, it ends it. And that is scary. The unknown factors that follow death include the potentiality of existence vs. non-existence, heaven vs. hell, or reincarnation vs. resurrection, among other options. Everything in death is unknown the only known factor is that we do indeed die. And this is one reason why people fear death.

2) Death and its Subject/Victim: In North America, murderers are put in jail for life, or experience death themselves, as a punishment for their actions. Laws such as these prove the value of life, and the tragedy of death. The person, who experienced the death, was robbed of life, and therefore, death was truly a tragedy. Now, consider those who hear that the murderer will be sentenced to death and in reaction; they cheer gladly. Suddenly death can be celebrated. This can be said of the news stations that continuously animate tragic stories of death and loss all across the world; they display the true tragedy of death. But on the other hand, look at the news stations that continuously animate triumphant stories of deserved death and lucky loss, such as the murderer spoken of above. Extreme examples of this include the death of Osama Bin Laden and Hitler, which, although their deaths were not celebrated by everyone, they were certainly celebrated by some. Now...
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