Some Transient Thoughts on Death and Metaphysics
Attached is an entertaining, if brief, dramatic moment wrought by master story-teller Terry Pratchett on the topic of a philosopher on his deathbed attempting (and not particularly well, at that) to outwit Death. A personally-favourite metaphor is that of Max Von Sydow as the Knight in Ingmar Bergmann’s The Seventh Seal playing a game of chess against Death; an arguably accurate metaphor for the existential struggle of life to continue to persist against the fact and material inevitability of personal extinction.
A problem with trying to make a Deep Dive into some issues is that after falling head-first, arms outstretched towards the water, you can never be sure how deep it in fact is. 30,000 light years, 300 meters, 3 millimeters ? For analogy’s sake the point is that the literal Event Horizon of mortality provides no clues as to what, if anything, lies beyond. Nietzsche’s assertion as to the Death of God, commonly completely and utterly misunderstood, characterises the grander ethical wilderness in which a post-Scientific Revolution humanity finds itself; this is the flip-side of the dawning awareness of uncertainty and epistemological impossibility concerning a metaphysical world.
Mature acknowledgement of the implicit logical conundrums represented by the potential metaphysical, and the problematic nature of certainty and proof in that sense, wave-like rise, arc across and crash catastrophically back into that fragile little symbolic and narrative framework, value-system and civilisation we have invented and cultivated over the longer thread of historical continuity. The point is: uncertainty about Death is also uncertainty about absolutely everything else that we might posit as anchoring our world in whatever religious, ideological, political or (even) mathematical and epistemological certainty we may subscribe to. We are left alone on this side of the Heavenly singularity and wormhole; the transparency of the extent to which so many who espouse metaphysical truths concerning the Great Beyond seek only to build their own Kingdom in this world does not inspire confidence or belief in those who possess sufficient aptitude as to be able to reason sensibly for themselves.
Sure, we can attach ourselves (or find ourselves, as is most common, entrained or encultured) into one or another formal or informal and, similarly, organised or disorganised bundle of metaphysical assertions concerning the afterlife but the conspicuous absence of certainty is only ever underlined by that mandatory obligation to an aspirational, hopeful leap of Faith into the Darkness
I do not doubt that there exists mystery and an endless possibility for discovery and knowledge in the world. I do doubt the ability of those who claim full and complete knowledge of, and access to, such a definitively (or at least logically) inaccessible world to ever be able to do more than splash around in the most shallow of metaphysical wading-ponds of what must (potentially) be infinitely-extensible possibility-spaces.