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Life & Death - Essay Example

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Life and Death: Mystery and Realism that Provokes Meaning Name Class Date Life and Death: Mystery and Realism that Provokes Meaning Introduction Life and death are two subjects that promote the use of a variety of disciplines as the search for meaning for both is undertaken…
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Download file to see previous pages The importance of ritual to support the beliefs that are cultivated about death brings a sense of reverence to the body of the deceased and the need to perform rites in order to give honor and respect to the life that was once held within that body. More importantly, the rituals are often believed to hold sway over the course of the soul into the afterlife which can create a deeper tragedy even than death when those rituals are denied to a loved one. In this paper I will discuss the human concept of life and its oppositional state of death as it is framed by the beliefs that create meaning through ritual so that life and death are manageable ideas in the context of experience. Life In many ways, life is framed by the way in which the individual conceptualizes death. In Phaedo, Plato writes about the death of Socrates who is attempting to explain the connection between the inevitability of death and the way in which life is lived. Socrates says that living is a continual practice of dying, a preparation that is intended for the finality of the end of death. That it is feared to the extent that it is feared means that a lifelong practice has been in vain (Plato 2000: 10). This discussion begins a dialogue on the meaning of life as it relates to the differences between the body and the soul. In this discussion, death becomes a relief from bodily burdens. The nature of the body is desire, according to the way in which Socrates frames his discussion on the topic. He states that the body requires sex, food, and drink. The individual needs clothing, thus is burdened by the needs of the body. The discussion is defined by allowing for the interference of bodily needs to the production of knowledge and thought which he gives over to the mind which seems to lead to the enlightenment of the soul (Plato 2002: 11). The discussion determines that the nature of the soul in differentiation with its nature as it is embodied within the flesh is almost in stasis, waiting to be freed into death so that the encumbrance of the body is no longer relative. The soul has the capacity for enlightenment whereas the body sits in desire and need. Plato, through the inspired story of the impending death of Socrates, suggests that life is a space of waiting until the soul is freed from the body. Aristotle, on the other hand, discusses the meaning of life in relationship to action and capacity. In many ways Aristotle is extolling the ability of the body to perform, to take action and to have the capacity for production. The soul is served by these acts and capacities, also contributing to them through the ability to reason or through obedience to reason (Aristotle 2002: 20). In the two frameworks of action and capacity the result is then the good, which is exampled through the product of action. In other words, the individual works towards a goal and in achieving that goal has created what is good (Aristotle 2002: 18). Aristotle has discussed the present and its goals as being important where in this case Socrates through the interpretation of Plato has discussed that the earthly life is merely in the way until the time of death when the soul is freed from desire. Aristotle also discusses that desire is can be futile if the choices one makes are based upon something other than the actual end that will come from that goal (Aristotle 2002: ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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