Friday, December 3, 2010

Why life?

“There is a very popular opinion that choosing life is inherently superior to choosing death. This belief that life is inherently preferable to death is one of the most widespread superstitions. This bias constitutes one of the most obstinate mythologies of the human species.” - Heisman.

The above passage appears in the so-titled book “suicide note” and succinctly describes the rather pervasive phenomenon by which most people on earth have a very basic and fundamental preference towards life. Heisman goes on to further expound upon this claim so I won't go into detail here; rather, I merely wish to raise the point that it is something of which one should be aware; ideally, the knowledge of such leading to a more impartial view of life and death.

If we sought some simple underlying reason for what I shall hereafter term the 'life bias', we need look no further than the evolutionary origins of humanity. As life evolved the rudimentary capacity to think and eventually that for sentience, it can only be expected that the same processes by which life was geared towards survival apply also to the evolution of consciousness itself. If this speculation has any veracity, it isn't difficult to see that life could have only evolved this way; that the evolution of a ubiquitous 'death bias' would simply be nonsensical. It is on these grounds that one must tread carefully when dealing with death lest one be unknowingly be rationalising the life bias, or even an underlying fear of death thereby replicating the illogic of the naturalistic fallacy. This isn't to say that the opposite is to be preferred; that death is somehow preferable to life. Rather, that life shouldn't be barred from the same scrutiny that has historically and even today chipping away at other biologically rooted biases in racism, sexism and the like.

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