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Death: Why we should be grateful for it

发布时间:2019-03-01 04:19:07来源:未知点击:

By Stephen Cave Read more: “Death: A special report on the inevitable“ DEATH gets a bad press. Invariably the unwelcome visitor, arriving too soon, he is feared and loathed: “the last enemy” in the words of the Bible. But a few poets and philosophers throughout history have argued that without death we would be at a loss. It’s the prospect of his coming that gets us out of bed in the morning and drives us to great deeds. Now a growing body of evidence from social psychology suggests that these thinkers are right. People might dream of a deathless civilisation, but without death, there would barely be a civilisation at all. The story begins with the awareness of our mortality. Like all living things, we struggle to survive. Yet unlike other creatures – as far as we know, anyway – we live with the knowledge that this is a struggle we are bound to lose. Our mighty brains, so good at inferring and deducing, tell us that the worst thing that can possibly happen surely will, one day. We must each live in the shadow of our own apocalypse. That isn’t easy. Indeed, it is terrifying and potentially paralysing. So we work very hard to stave off death, to defy it for as long as possible or deny it altogether. All this frantic defiance and denial result in some of our greatest achievements. This is perhaps most obvious when considering humanity’s material progress: agriculture, for example, was invented to give us the food we need to live. Clothes and buildings keep us warm and give us shelter,