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Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 35(247)

Рубрика журнала: Философия

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Библиографическое описание:
Shevchuk G. THE PROBLEM OF LIFE, DEATH AND IMMORTALITY IN THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY // Студенческий: электрон. научн. журн. 2023. № 35(247). URL: https://sibac.info/journal/student/247/304351 (дата обращения: 05.03.2024).


Shevchuk Grigoriy

Student, Construction faculty, Ulyanovsk State Technical University,

Russia, Ulyanovsk

Korukhova Lyudmila

научный руководитель,

scientific supervisor, Ph.D. Philol. Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department of History and Culture, Ulyanovsk State Technical University,

Russia, Ulyanovsk


In the life of every normal person, sooner or later there comes a moment when he wonders about the finitude of his individual existence. Man is the only creature who is aware of his mortality and can make it a subject of reflection. But the inevitability of one’s own death is not perceived by a person as an abstract truth, but causes severe emotional shocks and affects the very depths of his inner world.

Mythology, various religious teachings, art, and numerous philosophies have been and are engaged in the search for an answer to this question. But in contrast to mythology and religion, which, as a rule, seek to impose and dictate certain decisions to a person. Philosophy helps him by accumulating and critically analyzing the previous experience of mankind in this kind of search; it appeals primarily to the human mind and proceeds from the fact that a person must look for the answer on his own, making his own spiritual efforts for this.

The concept of life and death in philosophy

Life and death are eternal themes in the spiritual culture of humanity in all its divisions. Prophets and founders of religions, philosophers and moralists, figures of art and literature, teachers and doctors thought about them. There is hardly an adult who, sooner or later, would not think about the meaning of his existence, his impending death and the achievement of immortality. These thoughts come to the minds of children and very young people, as evidenced in poetry and prose, dramas and tragedies, letters and diaries. Only early childhood or senile insanity saves a person from the need to solve these problems. A.L. Chekhov wrote in one of his letters: “Philosophize - your mind will spin,” meaning one or another way of solving the problems of life and death. However, true philosophizing is impossible without addressing these eternal themes. In all philosophical systems, this issue was resolved in one way or another, and Schopenhauer believed that “death is the true genius, the inspirer or Musagete of philosophy, which is why Socrates defined life as “preparation for death.”

In fact, we are talking about a triad: life - death - immortality, since all the spiritual systems of humanity proceeded from the idea of ​​the contradictory unity of these phenomena. The greatest attention here was paid to death and the acquisition of immortality in another life, and human life itself was interpreted as a moment allotted to a person so that he could adequately prepare for death and immortality.

With a few exceptions, in all times and peoples people spoke quite negatively about life. Life is suffering (Buddha, Schopenhauer, etc.); life is a dream (Vedas, Plato, La Bruyère, Pascal); life is an abyss of evil (ancient Egyptian text “A man’s conversation with his spirit”). “And I hated life, because the works that are done under the sun became disgusting to me, for all is vanity and vexation of the spirit” (Ecclesiastes); “Human life is pitiful” (Seneca); “Life is a struggle and a journey through a foreign land” (Marcus Aurelius); “All is ashes, ghost, shadow and smoke” (John Damascus); “Life is monotonous, the spectacle is dull” (Petrarch);

Death and potential immortality are the most powerful lure for the philosophizing mind, for all our life's affairs must in one way or another be measured against the eternal. A person is doomed to think about death and this is his difference from an animal, which is mortal, but does not know about it. True, animals sense the approach of death, especially domestic ones, and their dying behavior most often resembles a painful search for solitude and calm. Death in general is the price to pay for the complication of the biological system. Single-celled organisms are practically immortal and the amoeba is a happy creature in this sense. When an organism becomes multicellular, a self-destruction mechanism, as it were, is built into it at a certain stage of development, associated with the gene code.

For centuries, the best minds of humanity have been trying to at least theoretically refute this thesis, prove, and then bring real immortality to life. However, the ideal of such immortality is not the existence of an amoeba and not angelic life in a better world. From this point of view, a person should live forever, being in the constant prime of life, reminiscent of Goethe’s Faust. “Stop for a moment” is the motto of such immortality, the impulse of which is, in the words of Ortega y Gasset, “biological vitality”, “life force”, akin to that “that ripples the sea, fertilizes the beast, covers the tree with flowers, lights up and extinguishes the stars.” A person cannot come to terms with the fact that he will have to leave this magnificent world where life is in full swing. To be an eternal spectator of this grandiose picture of the Universe, not to experience the “saturation of days” like the biblical prophets - could anything be more tempting?

But, thinking about this, you begin to understand that death is perhaps the only thing before which everyone is equal: poor and rich, dirty and clean, loved and unloved. Although both in ancient times and in our days, attempts have been and are constantly being made to convince the world that there are people who have been “there” and returned back, but common sense refuses to believe this. Faith is required, a miracle is required, such as the Evangelical Christ performed, “trampling down death by death.” It has been noticed that a person’s wisdom is often expressed in a calm attitude towards life and death. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “We do not know whether it is better to live or to die. Therefore, we should neither overly admire life nor tremble at the thought of death. We should treat them both equally. This is ideal.” And long before this, the Bhagavad Gita said: “Truly, death is destined for the born, and birth is inevitable for the deceased. Don’t grieve about the inevitable!”

At the same time, many great people realized this problem in tragic tones. The outstanding Russian biologist I. I. Mechnikov, who thought about the possibility of “cultivating the instinct of natural death,” wrote about L. N. Tolstoy: “When Tolstoy, tormented by the impossibility of solving this problem and haunted by the fear of death, asked himself whether he could If family love could calm his soul, he immediately saw that this was a vain hope. Why, he asked himself, raise children who would soon find themselves in the same critical condition as their father? Why should they live? Why should I love them, raise them and take care of them? For the same despair that is in me, or for stupidity? Loving them, I cannot hide the truth from them; every step leads them to knowledge of this truth. And truth is death.”


Realizing the finitude of his earthly existence and asking the question about the meaning of life, a person begins to develop his own attitude towards life and death. And it is quite clear that this topic, perhaps the most important for every person, occupies a central place in the entire culture of mankind. Modern culture, apparently, is on the threshold of grandiose discoveries related to the mysteries of the existence of death. The enormous ethnographic, philosophical, and natural scientific material that has been accumulated by scientists allows us to significantly expand the scope of the topic under discussion. It's time to unite the efforts of specialists from different fields to understand the mysteries posed by modern science.

The history of world culture reveals the eternal connection between the search for the meaning of human life and attempts to unravel the mystery of non-existence, as well as with the desire to live forever and, if not materially, then at least spiritually and morally defeat death. The ancients taught: remember death! We are convinced today of the wisdom of this covenant. Remember, i.e. don't try to drown in oblivion. Do not consider yourself immortal, because repressed fears will still break the dam.



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