3 June 2009

The most important fact

Death is not the only important fact about us. But it is the most important one.
My first reaction to this suggestion by Todd May is, no; being itself -- however brief -- is probably the most important fact about us. 

What constitutes 'successful' being?
- At a species level, does one (asks Peter Ward) rate ammonites, which were abundant and diverse but which have become extinct, as more successful than nautiloids, which are rarer and less diverse but have so far been virtually extinction-proof?

- At the level of the individual, how the life is lived and its legacy or consequences may be the most important facts.
...Shall I exchange for [death] this beautiful contexture of things? ’Tis the condition of your creation; death is a part of you, and while you endeavor to evade it, you evade yourselves. This very being of yours that you now enjoy is equally divided between life and death...

...Wherever your life ends, it is all there. The utility of living consists not in the length of days, but in the use of time; a man may have lived long, and yet lived but a little. Make use of time while it is present with you. It depends upon your will, and not upon the number of days, to have a sufficient length of life. Is it possible you can imagine never to arrive at the place toward which you are continually going? and yet there is no journey but hath its end. And, if company will make it more pleasant or more easy to you, does not all the world go the self-same way?
-- from Montaigne, That the study of philosophy is to learn how to die

Photo: Crescent Earth from Apollo 11.

No comments: