5 thoughts on “Was there death before life?”

  1. “Was there death before life?”
    “Eternal life is the kind of life that includes death.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    I do not think that the idea that eternal life includes death–with which notion I fully concur–need imply or even suggest that there was death before life.

    As I interpret Peirce on this topic, rather than death before life–since for Peirce death is a negation–there is a nothingness which is *not* death but rather the vague (1ns) and general (3ns) potential for life and growth-evolution.

    This idea, which occurs, for example, in Peirce’s reflections on ‘early cosmology’ in the 1898 Cambridge lectures, is also seen in Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) cosmology.

      1. Yes. In my opinion life is far deeper than death. It may even be that it is death, not life, which is an illusion.

        “But the principal thing for a Sufi is to deny his limited personality and to affirm the sole existence of God, that the false ego, which is subject to births and deaths, may fade away and the true ego, which is the divine hidden in man, may rise and discover itself.”

        “Life lives, death dies.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

        1. Thanks Gary!
          Personally i don’t think either one is an illusion. But to rephrase my original question:
          How can death, or “matter,” or anything, or anyone, die unless it is first alive?
          Life has priority. But then, as Roger Ames says, “Life is made meaningful by death. Death as natural closure punctuates a most particular event in the ongoing transformation of things.”

  2. GF wrote: Personally i don’t think either [life or death] is an illusion.

    GR: Perhaps because I am, shall we say, a kind of Christian mystic with some strong sufic, zennist, and tantric tendencies, I do tend to believe that death is an illusion. This is an idea which can’t be summarized here (or anywhere).

    GF: But to rephrase my original question:
    How can death, or “matter,” or anything, or anyone, die unless it is first alive?

    GR: Here we seem to fully agree. The notion, for example, that “matter” was always dead is contradicted by the evolution of the cosmos and the very evolutionary structuring of matter as to result in such complex forms as those we *call* living–but matter was always already living! For Peirce this seems to be almost a religious notion (in religious metaphysics).

    GF: Life has priority. . . “Life is made meaningful by death.”

    GR: Life surely has priority–we only know death because we are living beings. But as to whether “Life is made meaningful by death,” well, personally, even if there is a kind of truth in that, there are other things *in* life which make it meaningful (including the kind of philosophical reflection we’re attempting here), as well as deep relationship, community, art, etc.

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