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August 11, 2006

Death -- Part III

Euripides writes:

Who now can tell whether to live may not
Be properly to die. And whether that
Which men do call to die, may not in truth
Be but the entrance into real life?

This would seem to be among the aspects of religion the Europeans have outgrown? But shouldn't the "strict agnostic" acknowledge it as possibly true? Or do we have at least the right to say that it, like Martin Amis' universe-wide "intelligence," is hugely unlikely?

(Cited in Life of Pyrrho by Diogenes Laertius, trans. by, C. D. Younge)

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at August 11, 2006 2:23 PM


As a not-so-strict agnostic I would have to say that Euripides musing is highly unlikely. Death, in my view, puts you in the company of popes and princes, i.e., in the cold hard ground.

At the same time, however, I have this little voice reminding me that anything is possible -- our whole universe, for example, could be but a boil on a giant's ass.

Posted by: whymrhymer at August 12, 2006 3:47 AM

I wonder if you have the citation for the Euripides quote, M: I went to the 'Life of Pyrrho' site and found the passage. It seems that it comes from a discussion about Skeptics and the nature of truth, more than about the nature of death... But seeing how Euripides uses these lines within the text of a play would be helpful for understanding what he might be getting at, knowing how much he used irony to hammer at the dominant ideology and critique status quo values?

On the surface of it, I'd say it's a pretty evolved understanding of life and death as parts of a continuum, only one aspect of which we have any 'truth' or knowledge about, thus assigning greater privilege to it?

Posted by: JM at August 12, 2006 11:53 AM

In watching Bill Moyers's interview with Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis I found that I agreed with pretty much every thing that they said. But I ascribe to strong atheism.

The problem seems to be how we define atheism and ignosticism, in particular how we draw the line between them.

Margaret said that atheism is a religion because it holds a belief that can't be proved. For my part I have never seen a proof of God's non existence that I understood well enough to be convinced. But to my mind that is too high a bar. For instance I can't prove that the Republican administration is not a bunch of clones created by extra terrestrials. But I don't believe that is the case.

Martin for his part doesn't believe in the after life and neither of them seem concerned about the consequences of God's existence. That tells me they don't take the possibility of God's existence seriously.

Surely ignosticism implies not only that you don't have logical proof of Gods existence but that you consider God's existence a very real possibility

Posted by: Boelf at August 12, 2006 1:31 PM

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