Metaphysics of Death

Is there a metaphysics of death? Often death is thought to be unthinkable and remains unthought. Maybe we find it difficult to think of a world without ourselves both individually and collectively. The unthinkability of death may be linked to the Egology of Emanuel Levinas. But the unthinkability of death is haunted by its inevitability. We seem to have become desensitized to death and the dying. But becoming of a corpse has become ubiquitous. Terror and violence have come to rule our life. As I reflect and study about death and the dying Manipur is still burning in our country.

How is that which is unthinkable but ubiquitous not haunting us? There are several reasons for such a condition. The Biopower of Michel Foucault may have become the Necropolitics of Achille Mbembe. Foucault’s declaration of the death man seems to have become more true and more real than before. His surveillance and disciplinary society empowered by Artificial intelligence has now begun to set up Thanatocracy around us. Yet death remains invisible to our consciousness and stays liminal till it touches our skin with the death of our beloved. We in our country have seen severe riots, violence and vandalism. But still, the question of death seems to have not taken hold over us. Are we too much concerned with life that we forget death? Is it our belief in transmigration that makes take death a less serious event?

Our attitude to death, while we are facing the possibility of collective death triggered by climate change has to change. Death is not outside us. It is not just a transitive object. Bios and Thanatos are deeply interweded. We die and live several ways through the cell division in our bodies. Therefore, the corpse is not waiting for us. It is embodied by us. We are on the road to becoming a corpse. The entanglement of death and life is beautifully brought to light by Jacques Derrida when he reminded us that we have to live our death. Death is intimate to each person. It belongs to us more than anything. Martin Heidegger taught us that death is our own most thing. Each of us has to live our death. We cannot die the death of someone else. Death indeed is a profoundly personal event.

We may be given bare life as George Agamben teaches us. But we do not live a bare death. Although powers that control Necropolitics may decide who is to live and who is to die They have no power over our becoming corpses. It is by dying that we become a corpse. They may kill us but they have no power over the dying becoming a corpse. Death is the greatest leveller. Everyone has to die. Rich and powerful will all die. We may delay death using science and technology but we may not overcome death. Death is not a disease to be healed. It is the climax of being Human. Heidegger taught us that we are beings towards death. Death, therefore, becomes a way of living in human abundance.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao