ARVINDUS

Contemplationam

‘Is there Life after Death?’

'IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?'

In this contemplation we shall go deeper into the question ‘Is there life after death?’ This we shall do from a subjectivistic and non-objectivistic perspective. It is not intended to, through a scientific demonstration of proof, come to a concluding answer to the question but rather to come through the question into contemplation.

Reformulation of the Question

The question if there is life after death is one often put forward. Usually this question is formulated as: ‘Is there life after death?’ This question consists of a principle clause and a subordinate clause. The principle clause regards here ‘Is there life [...]?’ and the subordinate clause regards here ‘[...] after death[...]’. This analysis makes clear that in the question ‘Is there life after death?’ life as part of the principle clause is questioned. Death, being part of the subordinate clause, stays in this question out of consideration. Death is in the question ‘Is there life after death?’ not taken in question. Shortly put is in this question death taken as assumption and life questioned. This may be considered as remarkable since the question is always asked during life. Questions are asked during life. So when a question is asked then one can assume that in any case at the time of questioning life is the case. More correctly than the formulation ‘Is there life after death?’ then seems to be the formulation ‘Is there death after life?’. In this question is not life but death questioned. 

Third and First Person Perspective

When the above analysis is taken in consideration the question may rise how it is possible that the question ‘Is there life after death?’ is much more dominantly in use than the question ‘Is there death after life?’. That question can be answered when we look at the way in which life and death are usually understood. Life and death (just like by the way about all other notions) are dominantly understood from a third person perspective. Life is the going about of an empirical observable other and death is the stopping thereof. When it is seen that another stops with going about and falls completely still then is that falling still of that other what is understood as death. And this falling still of that other, this dying of that other, makes us then ask the question if that other perhaps in another, empirical non-observable way continues with going about, continues to live. And thus we come to the question ‘Is there life after death for another?’ This forming of understanding about life and death has to do with the importance that in finding truth is given to empirical observation. The less developed human is in any way already strongly empirically directed and then he finds himself in these times on top of that placed in an empirical age, in an age where empirical observation as scientific method for finding truth is propagated as the only true one. The question ‘Is there life after death (for another)?’ is a question that may be considered as sign of this time.

Now it can be objected that one with the question ‘Is there life after death?’ really takes oneself in consideration. This can also be the case but usually shall this self that is taken in consideration rather be a projection of that self instead of the true self. One projects oneself in such a case outside oneself as another that one considers as oneself. This is a consideration of oneself in third person perspective and fits seamlessly with the attitude of the empirical finding of truth. 

The situation is different when life and death are being considered from a first person perspective. The forming of understanding from this perspective is non-empirical motivated but rather subjectivistic. In a first person perspective can nothing be placed outside oneself. Life and death can in a first person perspective be no projections but concern the questioner of life and death himself directly. And as such is the first which the questioner stumbles upon his own life. Who asks the question for life and death from a first person perspective cannot do otherwise than take life as assumption and question death. Thus does one come from this perspective and from this understanding rather to the question ‘Is there death after life?’

Choice between the Two Questions

With the two questions ‘Is there life after death?’ and ‘Is there death after life?’ somewhat elucidated as fitting with different modes of understanding about life and death does the question come up which of these two questions is the most appropriate. As an answer to his question it must be honestly taken in consideration that both perspectives have their use and sense, however each in their own domain. The third person perspective, empirical observation, empiricism, likes to present itself as objective. And rightfully so. But this perspective is not only objective but also objectivistic, and this means; directed to objects. Where true objects are concerned can the third person perspective also excellently be applied. However life and death are no objects. Life is an enlivement1 and an aliveness, and as such is it something that the questioner of it concerns himself. It is more appropriate then to ask a question for life and death from a first person perspective and thus ask the question: ‘Is there death after life?’

The Subjectivistic Death

On basis of considerations on the two questions ‘Is there life after death?’ and ‘Is there death after life?’ it was concluded that that second question is the more appropriate because that one befits a questioning from a first person perspective, which perspective was preferred over a third person perspective where the question for life and death is concerned. With the reaching of this choice was life considered and determined as non-objectivistic (and thus befitting a first person perspective) but was death as such not taken in. That also death is not an object that can be perceived empirically goes without say. That life primarily is enlived subjectivistically is also evident. However for death this is perhaps not so evident. After all, so is the general thought, nobody ever enlived his own death. Did he enlive his death then was what he enlived not death, and were he dead then it was no enlivement. However that life is an enlivement and that that enlivement fits with a subjectivistic first person perspective does not mean that everything what is subjectivistic is also directly an enlivement. But how then does death look like in a subjectivistic way? How can this be described?

An answer to this question is found in the application of an analogy on life. The analogy sounds then: ‘the third person perspective on life stands to the first person perspective on life as the third person perspective on death stands to the first person perspective on death. The familiar givens here are of course the third person perspective on life, the first person perspective on life and the third person perspective on death, whereby the first person perspective on death is the lacking factor. These known givens came to us through empirical observation in the third person perspective of life and death and through enlivement in the first person perspective of life. Let us through the above mentioned analogy come to a consideration of a subjectivistic understanding of death.

Life understood from a third person perspective regards the observation of another or a pseudo-self (a projection of oneself) that goes and moves about. As long as movement is observable with this other or this pseudo-self one sees him standing in life. Life in the third person perspective regards the observation of movement. In a first person perspective on life does the observation of movement stop and does one move oneself. The passing of a third person perspective to a first person perspective is being characterized by a passing from observance to an acting. Observed actions become self executed actions and observed presence becomes a being present oneself.

How is this with death? Death is in a third person perspective considered as the ending of the aforementioned movement and presence. First does the other or pseudo-self stop with moving and then his presence disappears. Death is the stillness and absence of another or of a pseudo-self. But can we ourselves too be fully still and absent? That this is possible knows everybody who ever has slept dreamlessly, and who hasn’t? The recall of this dreamless sleep however regards again a projection from a third person perspective whereby we project ourselves as another that we are ourselves and that was at night in a dreamless sleep. This recall of the dreamless sleep then can at its best give an answer to the objectivistic question ‘Is there life after death?’. And even for the answering of that objectivistic question shall the example of the dreamless sleep be questionable because the objectivistic death presupposes a non-recurrence of movement of the same body. And subjectivistically does the recall of our dreamless sleep also give no answer to the question ‘Is there death after life?’ because this recall as said is an objectivistic projection. That subjectivistic question can actually only be answered at the moment that we ourselves come into stillness and absence. And that does not necessarily needs to be in the dreamless sleep.

Answer

Now it was attested earlier that the question ‘Is there death after life?’ is being asked during life. And this raises the question if the answer to that question is not also given during life. Does the stilling, the absence, not swallow up every answer in its emptiness? The answer to that question we find again in an analogy. And this analogy states that the question for death stands to death as the answer to that question stands to life. The question ‘Is there death after life?’ may be a question that is asked during life but is also a question that leaves that life and leads us into death. The question ‘Is there death after life?’, when asked purely subjectivistically, moves us from life to death, from activity to stillness. And according to the stated analogy moves the answer to that question then from stillness to activity, from death to life. And when this is the movement of the answer to the question ‘Is there death after life?’, if the answer to that question brings us from death to life, can the answer then sound otherwise than: ‘There is life after death!’? With this it is not said that inevitably an answer must come, however that if an answer comes this answer must resound as such, conform the stated analogy.

May the question for death thus lead us into deep stillness.

Notes
  1. Literal translation of a Dutch word for ‘experience’ (being ‘beleving’).