the "self" does not exist, so how can there be a death?

It has been said by many thinkers, that what we call the “self” is only a product of of our environment. However, there was a train of thought, which sprang up just about the time that Darwins’s evolutionary theory became the most validated theory of the time, that DNA structural changes were due to functional use or disuse… The bull-frog, in partucular, was shown to have had changes in it’s anatomy due to disuse. The scientist who perpetuated this view, killed himself because Darwin disproved him.
If morphological changes do not happen because of changes in function and utility, and the DNA remains an intractible hereditary part of evolution, then changes in evolution are caused strictly by natural selection.

 If we deny any non physical component to what has become known as the "self", then strictly speaking, that self is only a late conceptual development, and it really has no ontological "existence" except as defined by the very conceptual framework in which it has developed.  So if it doesen't exist, how can it be said to pass-away, or die?  In this way of defining it, death is only a conceptual event. As a corollary, we as "selves" are not either: born or pass away, we just think we do. So if we do not think we are born or die, we don't. 

 Everything else is what is defined as eternity.  Any thoiughts?

can a plant die? If so, a person can. this seems like one of those “let’s pretend words mean different things and see what happens” threads

 The plant, by your definition does not die. We observe the changes it goes through, but it cannot be said to die. Before the words were thought up, things, including plants, could not have been said to die.  They just came into existence and went out.  But this could not have been said either.  Because "existence" was not thought up.  So the question is, is apart from "consciousness" can "existence" be even thought of as other then an exercise of words?

 If not, then you are right.  But "existence" implies something above, (or below) consciousness, and it is this something, which defies definition, and may be what is, when we try to fathom what "eternity" may be.

Actually, plants die all the time by my definition.

It seems like the OP is getting at the fact that there would be no death of an experiencer. Sure the body would go through changes that we call death, but there would be no stopping of some entity that experiences. the plant example is not a good one for anyone who thinks that plants do not experience.

Another way to approximate the OP would be to say that there is no self - though there is experience - in humans. So in each moment there is a subjective aspect to the human living. And while this would stop, along with other physical processes, this experiencing is not something a self does.

So there is no subjective death. No end to an experiencer, while sure, the body goes through the changes it goes through. But generally speaking people are not afraid, for example, of the corruption of the body - just to put it old fashioned like - it is that cessation of the experiencing. But in fact that is happening all the time, all along in life.

 The subjective experience of death does not happen, moreno, by "below" consciousness, I meant to imply the evolutionary place of human begins over that of animals.  The animal cannot fear death it only snows fear of a struggle with another animal.  It does not "know" death.  You come close to the intent of the OP, to show that the subjective death we talk about and the objective, institutionalised death, which we learned to communicate, do not manifest as a dichotomy in animals.  Plants, are a bad example, because they are so much lower even below animals, as to make any sort of analogy between them and human beings intractable.  There, however, remains the problem of the last frontier in the study of consciousness, that of the nature of its cessation, and it's constant renewal through learning.

This may be possibly, the last frontier, and goal of science.

experience would cease, though, so there would no longer be an experiencer

In other words, there’s no experience of death… that’s generally accepted

Captainkrunk I placed my reply within your blog, but fortunately within the context of your blog. But to add. To it, it seems to me inadequate to inquire as to the meaning of “self” as either below the consciously developed one, as in animals, and perhaps the over and above notion one (of the superman concept) to place either limits to what we mean when we say “self”, or dicothomise it, by using a materialistic definition–which denies the ontology or even the possibility of intending a subjective experience of death–as a meaningful device. In “evolutionary intention” I do not want to go overboard and talk in terms of an “intelligent design” either. The purpose of an “evolutionary intention” as limited by the use of a language within it’s known framework and context of use is all I wanted to imply.

If I understand what you’re saying, I think it is incorrect. Mechanisms of Change in Evolution

What changes if death and the self are admitted to be conceptual?

Fuse: broadly speaking other factors cause changes in evolution, including natural selection. That does not make my point incorrect, only incomplete.natural selection is, in humans, is, by the most part most determenitive.(Of evolutionary changes) How it connects with the conceptual is this: the conscious~conceptual recognition of death changes everything, since natural selection subsumes the intellect as one of the qualifiers. For instance, intelligent/educated people tend to marry others like them, and carry this characteristic along to posterity. The conceptual death is certainly different than that of the lower primates’ awareness of death, and as such, it is a qualitative - major differential break. The processes of change in awareness becomes it’s own enemy, as soon as we can define the change from what we see as a living, to a seemingly lifeless state: we coin a name for it “- death.” This is a major break, and science itself has proven it. The qualifiers remain the same–the breakdown starts from larger to smaller systems of observable matter, and only lately has it been possible to discern the activities of periviously indiscernable entities… The very small seemingly indeiscernible particles, are no longer discernible in conventional ways of perception, or theory, they are what they are because of their probabilistic actions. They are no longer qualifiable, but quantifiable. There enters the element of uncertainty about them, and their absolute existence in terms of a convention reality is gone. At critical points, their matter converts to energy asscience affirmed that evolution has possibly a circular and infinite, yet infinitesimal connectedness between what we perceive and can qualify on basis of characteristics-with -such as death, and the self, which have no characteristics apart , test, validate them, on a quantitative basis.

The cognitive appreception of death, for instance, or of anything for that matter, has come to be seen as a reification of a plasma like energy field, akin to waves formed in a body of water. It is possibly the starting pont of where our perceptions, concepts, and theory’s come from, regarding death(of the self). Like, death, they are waves of formed reifications of symbols, to re-present not the dynamic itself, but it’s paremeters. The awareness of this changes everything, since the reified bounderies between the living and the dead are usurped by the uncertainty of the dynamics underlying them. --------------------------------------At-----first evolution seems to divide natural from cognitive
Processes, and only much later does uncertainty seem to again unite them in awareness of their unity.
This has not yet been achieved, but conceptually the so called Unified Field Theory has long been in the works as a very probable future attainment. This is what I was trying to say about the problems in seeing the self, and it’s “death” as over and above a simple matter of a linguistic game… Linguistic games seem to have come about because of an impasse that Leibnitz left, and Wittgenstein took up, in terms of discernibility as the major problem of getting from “seeing” death (of the self) to understanding it.

Cratylus sits by the river, fists clenched, speaking torrents.

“Do You believe I have done anything else all my life that he had made it the whole business of his life to examine what was just”, a recollection, quoting Socrates, as he is talking to Hermogenes.

This gives me an idea for a thread.