Death note

Suppose you had the power to choose who dies, when and how they die by simply writing their name on a paper or saying it loudly, would you do it?

This is the theme of a movie by the same name as the title of this post.

The main antagonist kills a guy who beat him up and rapidly graduates to killing bad guys across the continents and gets a girl he admires in school involved.

A detective comes to town to help local police identify the mysterious killer and this is where everything gets interesting.

The moral question, here, is can we decide that a pedophile or a thief deserves to die? Especially where we know they really are guilty? Can it be up to us?

Or is this the problem with human beings as Satan in Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain concludes.

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Only dead men are sincere

Every word men speak, you may presume

Is more or less a fraud because, my dear,

You’ll find us humans at our most sincere

Wrapped in our nappies, later in our tomb.

Then we are wise at last, and all is plain,

We join our fathers down below the ground

And with bare bones we rattle truth around

Though some would rather lie and live again

by Herman Hesse

Reminds me of that sage, Solon, who said

He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of ‘happy.’ But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin.”

On dying before our time

On this Cicero says what will later be echoed by that great Antonine, Aurelius, and later by Shakespeare when they write the world is just a stage and each must play their own part.

Cicero writes

Away, then, with those follies such as that it is miserable to die before our time. What time do you mean? That of nature? But she had only lent you life, as she might lend you money, without fixing any certain time for its repayment. Have you any grounds of complaint, then, that she recalls it at her pleasure?

Of death

Cicero writes in his disputations

…..it must follow, then, that death cannot be an evil; or that it must rather be something desirable; for if either the heart, or the blood, or the brain, is the soul, then certainly the soul, being corporeal, must perish with the rest of the body; ….

He then asks

What shall I say of Dicearchus, who denies that there is any soul? In all these opinions, there is nothing to affect any one after death, for all feeling is lost with life, and where there is no sensation, nothing can interfere to affect us.

I don’t know about you, but as for me, having no coherent idea of what the soul is and having had no prior idea of life on earth before I was born, the future life doesn’t interfere with how I live today.

On life

The pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer says this about life

..it is then well said that life should be, from one end to the other, only a lesson; to which, however, any one might reply: for this very reason I wish I had been left in the peace of the all sufficient nothing, where I would have had no need of lessons or anything else.

He continues, I guess, as a response to those who claim life is a gift

For human existence, far from being a gift, has entirely the character of a debt that has been contracted. The calling in of this debt appears in the form of the pressing wants, tormenting desires, and endless misery established through this existence. As a rule, the whole lifetime is devoted to the paying off of this debt; but this only meets the interest. The payment of the capital takes place through death. And when was this debt contracted?  At the begetting.

I am tempted to agree with him.

death

what is it?

some say death is the greatest evil, some the greatest good, which is it?

is all religion and philosophy, at bottom concerned with death, fear or overcoming of it?

are we immortal?

why should non being concern us if there was infinite time before we were?

is there a rational reason to fear death?

is the death of a human being different from that of a brute?

postscript: or is death extended sleep?