Life and death

What is this thing called death

– the presence of an absence

 knowable by what it isn’t

– a nothingness to carry us away

into some ‘non-place’ of ‘not being’?

Ask yourself, is death as real as life is real?

Are they complete opposites

in a reality that exceeds language

in which life has yet to be explained?

Then how is death comprehensible

as a final return to nothing

when a greater truth has already cancelled nothingness?

Mike Laidler

Surviving Death

Will systematic organ replacement do the job?  Or even a head transplant?  Do we need to remain biological, or could synthetic body parts take over?  Setting aside the ‘hardware’ questions, would it be sufficient to transfer the memory into a suitable receptor – real or artificial?  Ultimately, could we liberate ourselves from our physical encumbrances?  Might this constitute some form of rebirth – or should we accept our lot and patiently await the redemptive intervention of an insuperable supernatural presence?  In any case, is it immoral to cheat death?  Is it not ethically appropriate to strive for self-improvement, both physical and mental and isn’t modern technology a benign means to a desirable end?

But do these scenarios use up all the options?  Are we definable by our embodiments?  If not, by what extra-bodily capacity are we able to recognise the difference?  And isn’t our brand of intentional action something alien to nature?  Also, doesn’t consciousness introduce a real difference that is neither evident in the stark biology nor definable by what we happen to be conscious of?  Likewise, what if there is more to us than a life we can call our own?  Then what if we are more than a personality forged by circumstance – because personal being transcends our individuality and we retain the flexibility to be more than we can become in any number of biological lives?

Mike Laidler