A matter of Life and Death

Essay by Kendab April 2004

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There are literally dozens of views and opinions about life and death - just what exactly is life (?), and what happens to our consciousness or self-awareness when we die (?). These views range from the materialist, who sees life as a random clustering of atoms which, for a brief moment in eternity produce a living creature, to the mystic, who thinks that life is either an illusion, or a passage through a multi-layered experience in which there is no death. The materialist sees life in terms of mechanics, the mystic sees life in terms of infinity in which all things are possible but nothing is provable.

Some people like to avoid the subject altogether by saying "I'll know when I get there" or, "Its not for us to know such things". There are also those who say, quite logically, that such things as life and death are unknowable, because (they say) the very people who enquire about it are also part of the whole machine, so to speak.

It would be like a cog in a clock trying to understand the whole clock, they say. One would need to be separate from the clock in order to see it objectively, they say. There is some truth in this argument, but not enough to defeat the possibility of a cog being able to view its immediate surroundings and objectively come to some conclusions.

For example, there are some who claim to have mind-reading abilities. If this were the case, then we would expect to find that the ability to do this depended on some sort of transmission and reception, which implies some sort of power which has to be broadcast and picked up. Over short distances, this would probably not be detectable, but over distances of half a planet (as...