An Evaluation and Criticism of the Viewpoints of Socrates and Epicurus about the Fearsomeness of Death Based on the Theories of Harm

Document Type : Research Paper

Author

Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Education, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran

10.22059/jpht.2022.338499.1005883

Abstract

As an existential concern of all humans, fear of death has for long grabbed the attention of death thinkers such as Socrates and Epicurus. Socrates deems death as a dreamless sleep and a kind of locational displacement of self, while Epicurus tries to prove harmlessness of death by arguing for non-existence of life after death and lack of any perception after it. The common aspect in the thoughts of these two thinkers is their view to death as something void of perception. However, Socrates does not abandon his belief in eternity and considers lack of perception as transient and only limited to the death event. He likens death to a dreamless sleep to reduce the humans’ fear of death. The main question of the study at hand is that if the non-existence of a person and its ensuing lack of perception reject the possibility of the harm to a deceased person. Some critical theorists believe that death is a kind of harm and damage. Taking into account the theories on the harmfulness of death before (deactivating the passions) and after (frustration and deprivation) it occurs, it seems that death entails a level of harm and damage, and the assumptions and results achieved by Socrates and Epicurus have a lot of problems. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the different solutions offered by these two thinkers through the theories favoring the harmfulness of death. Since there has been no study so far on the relationship between understanding the harmfulness of death and the fear that derives from it, this paper offers a new philosophical stance.

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