Philosophical Post

Someone on a blog I follow suffers from a terminal disease. He knows that his time has come, and he has resolved to chronicle his impending demise with as much dignity as his death will allow.

So today, he asked a philosophical question; "What Happens When We Die?"

I thought I'd write him a few words in my comments. And I thought I'd add them to my blog here as well.


I'm still following your posts.

When you close the fridge door, what happens to the light?

When the bulb goes out, the diminishing spray of photons emerging out from the cooling bulb continue their outward journeys across the short distance through the atoms in the air, spilling out into the room, impacting on the opaque matter of the walls of the fridge, the room ... you ... and then they are absorbed.

Some of the photons are reflected, which is why you see things and colours in particular: but ultimately, most of the light gets absorbed into the surrounding matter, where it adds its tiny bit of momentum to the atoms' vibration.

The few photons that escape through the window vanish into the night, maybe to begin their journeys out across the void forever.

We are fields of information. The one thing about us that distinguishes us living things from inanimate rock and water and air is the information we all generate. All of us, from viruses through the the ecosphere of Gaia itself. We cannot not generate information: it is what makes us alive.

We are an intricate, overlapping field of information that interacts to generate this information spraying out of us; and when death takes us, as individuals the capacity of our bodies to sustain that field suffers permanent, catastrophic collapse. The information we generate ceases; but like the wave of photons emerging as the lightbulb goes off, it all gets absorbed into the surroundings - the ecosphere, enclosed by the Earth's magnetic field. And Gaia harvests a little more information about the world through her little sense organs, the humans.

In a way, put yourself in this place, where you imagine the field of your data merging with this greater field of data, where it will mingle with the generating fields left behind by Archimedes and Marie Curie and Einstein, Gandhi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, all melding together like two lumps of different kinds of bread dough being kneaded together to form a loaf of hybrid bread that has the features, tastes and textures of both, plus its own unique flavours and textures.

Just as you enrich the world in life, so you will continue to enrich the Gaiasphere in death - both from your permanent record of your life and from your merging data fields and all the information you let loose upon the world, flying in all directions, forever.

I hope this helps.


1 comment:

  1. I've nearly finished reading Julian Barnes fascinating small book entitled 'There's Nothing To Be Frightened Of'. Barnes, like most atheists, has been fascinated by mortality from when he could independently think (if, indeed, we can) and his narrative is a pleasure to read, yet challenging. Last words, expectations, analysis of philosophers' views, anecdotes are all a feast to the brain. Personally, I am reminded of GBS, who said 'Life is too short to take seriously.' While I agree, I also add that Life is too short NOT to take seriously. Caught in the forked stick of paradox. I suspect we merely become worm food or our ashes offered to Gaia for re-destribution, but if a part of our data is helpful to others then hey ho, make better use of it than have I.


"And if we have unearned luck, now to scape the serpent's tongue, we will make amends ere long. Else the Puck a liar call ..."

So speak.