Death is annihilation

[b]If death is annihilation, says Epicurus, then it is ‘nothing to us.’ Epicurus’ main argument for why death is not bad is contained in the Letter to Menoeceus and can be dubbed the ‘no subject of harm’ argument. If death is bad, for whom is it bad? Not for the living, since they’re not dead, and not for the dead, since they don’t exist. His argument can be set out as follows:

1/Death is annihilation.
2/The living have not yet been annihilated (otherwise they wouldn’t be alive).
3/Death does not affect the living. (from 1 and 2)
4/So, death is not bad for the living. (from 3)
5/For something to be bad for somebody, that person has to exist, at least.
6/The dead do not exist. (from 1)
7/Therefore, death is not bad for the dead. (from 5 and 6)
8/Therefore death is bad for neither the living nor the dead. (from 4 and 7[/b]

I wanted to make a thread on this in the Philosophy section but i don’t really reject this theory and have no counter argument against it.

your thoughts people…


This is good so far as it goes. But what about one experiencing the death (and loss) of another?

well it could be said that we only mourn because of self interest, the death of someone you loved perhaps. You may not want to bare being abandoned without them and the idea of their nonbeing results in a sense of lost. It is the same principle as losing a toy, but obviously we cannot replace the loved human.


Dead people (nonexistent people) don’t die or deal with death, but living people certainly do.

I don’t care about once I’m dead and no longer experiencing – it’s the path to nonexistence that I wish I could… avoid… somehow…

What I am afraid of, and what I want to avoid, is the end of my existence. I want to exist forever.

This end has nothing to do with some entity that Epicurus seems to conceive of as death and which could do harm to me.

Death is just a word to say that my mundane existence has an end. And the evil consists in this end.

Nope, you will die. It could happen now or decades from now. There is no clue. Enjoy now.

I am aware of it, what do you think? But some part of my being, besides the part which rots, may be eternal.

that is correct. I will never die but i will always have to witness the death of others, fortunately enough for ourselfs though…we will never die.

It is like saying “everybody dies but everyone”.



Not necessarily if I live in some heaven

The evil is that the way I exist does not guarantee that I will enjoy my existence forever. The evil is that I may be on the path to annihilation.

Besides, this philosophical solace is of no help to relieve me.

Yeah, I wish I could experience forever. If people would wish for their death if immortal, they would wish for their death as mortals – and most don’t. The crappy part is knowing I’m not immortal… the knowledge of my inevitable death. There is no entity called ‘death’ but there is the knowledge of one’s death – that’s what does the harm.

But, I’ve decided that, when it comes, I will try to think of it as my last great adventure into the Great Unknown, and face it with curiosity rather than (just) fear.

– Rami

I don’t get it. I’m really curious what you mean. All moments are ever-existing? But I don’t get to /experience/ those moments any longer…


As i said in the above post, it is not possible to “die”, if i could experience the sensation of death then i would still be alive to ‘feel’ it. How then does anybody die? Nobody denies that people do not die but no single person dies, i do not experience my death and you do not experience yours. No “being” experiences death yet we all die.

“everybody dies but(except) everyone”.

Hope that clears it up for you.


I think the main flaw in the argument is that “3/Death does not affect the living.” It does indeed affect the living, the living dies and hence proceeds into a state of death.

If by death he simply means the state of no longer existing, then “3/Death does not affect the living.”. However, the act of dying, the fear of death, these do affect the living.

Epicurus is answering a different question than what you expect: “Is death bad?” and not “Is dying bad?”.

The living does indeed die. Dying is the transition state from living to death.

Yes, Epernicus is answering a different question than what you think. The question if death is bad is irrelevant as it concerns a state where existance no longer is. Does the unborn child care that he does not live? Of course not.


What if some part of you isn’t enternal; what does that mean.

It means that my whole being would be annihilated, and it is a bleak hypothesis.

I take up the thought of “annihilation” as problematic. I believe there is no ultimate annihilation possible, even via death. Thus, I challenge the notion of death as annihilation, but I do not necessarily advocate the continuation of the “soul” or “spirit” beyond death. I do not see it (the continuance of the soul) as impossible, but I do not hold it as essential. Death is a type of cessation, not annihilation.

Here is my argument for why there is no true annihilation of a human being (or no such thing as annihilation possible). That which once exists cannot truly and utterly be annihilated. Annihilation is defined as:

  1. The action or process of reducing to nothing, or of blotting out of existence. Of conditions and circumstances: The bringing to an end; total abrogation.

  2. The state of nothingness resulting from blotting out of existence. (OED)

Death is not absolute destruction. Absolute destruction (blotting out of existence) would entail a result that would be the same as if the person never existed. Whatever the result or duration of a human life, the end or death is never equal to the state prior to that human’s existence. Death cannot totally annihilate or erase a person or his/her effects on the rest of the world. Death can be seen as the defining boundary or limit of a person’s existence, but it can never overcome the fact that such a person did exist. Once a part of reality, nothing can be completely extricated from the fabric of that reality.

“Mortal! though soon life’s tale is told;
Who once lives, never dies!” -Emily Brontë

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” -William Shakespeare