File spoon-archives/phillitcrit.archive/phillitcrit_1998/phillitcrit.9809, message 32

Subject: Re: PLC: Generic equivalent
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 13:37:33 -0400

> From: George Trail <gtrail-AT-UH.EDU>
> Date: Wednesday, September 30, 1998 1:21 PM


> itself.  All jesting (well maybe not _all all_) aside death is a matter
> definition. Medically it has to do with cell death. The simple notion of
> flatline on the cardiac monitior and/or in terms of brain activity does
> amount to clinical death unless it is sustainedto the point that the
> organism will no longer respond to recessitation (i.e., cell death). It
> further clear that life lives on death--we only eat other (more or less)
> living stuff. If that lettuce were "really" dead, you couldn't eat it. So
> Walt says there is "really" no death, and if there were it ceased the
> moment life appeared. And DT says "after the first death, there is no

I found the notion of "death" being "a matter of definition" very
interesting since I have been recently reading Plato's Socratic dialogues. 
As most of you are probably aware, Plato used this very notion in his
arguments for the immortality of the soul.

Personally, I feel that Plato was confusing the orders of abstraction when
he talked about death.  He was, I think, creating "verbal splits" that had
very little to do with the event level.  When we talk about abstractions as
if they represent what happens at the event level, we are prone to fall
into equivocation.

Walt's comment seems reminiscent of the following sentiment in Plato's
"In the same way, my dear Cebes, if everything that partakes of life were
to die and remain in that state and not come to life again, would not
everything ultimately have to be dead and nothing alive?  Even if the
living came from some other source, and all that lived died, how could all
things avoid being absorbed in death?"

But what is "death"?  What is "life"?

Plato seems to apply an intensional extrapolation of a poor verbal
definition of an extensional event to what he terms "the soul".  And from
that, he claims to have proven the immortality of the soul.

The way I see it, Plato's abstract notions and definitions are too easily
confused with what actually happens.

> So, as Heller et al, talk about it, death is a metaphor. "The coward dies
> thousand deaths. . . " etc. etc.  So also, by the same token, is life a
> metaphor--the only really interesting question then is, "a metaphor for
> what?"

"Death" is a multi-ordinal term.  That is, it can have different meanings
on each rung of the semantic ladder.  The question remains as to whether
there is such a thing as an extensional experience of death.

> Dead men tell no tales
> cheers,
> g

And dead men can't tell tails from heads.


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