Thoughts on Immortality (Extract from Meditations, Marcus Aurelius)

Though thou shouldest be going to live three thousand years, and as many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. The longest and shortest are thus brought to the same. For the present is the same to all, though that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can anyone take this from him? These two things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years, or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.

I find it enchanting that a Roman aristocrat (living in legitimate blood thirsty times, where class divides could be breached by murder and bribery, where gladiatorial bouts were the flavour of the masses), would come back from his hard day at work and record such thoughts on immortality into his journal. Quite brilliant too, to see that he had worked out an iron tight logic for himself. He makes a couple of pertinent logical points.

1. No man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses

He’s talking of delta t, the moment of death. At that moment, the man’s consciousness (the part that perceives you as you, that is, and hence by definition is you) loses nothing but the life he’s now living. Considering death as an external event, if death doesn’t come at delta t, would not be any different than what life is now anyway.

Good with it till now.

2. A man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can anyone take this from him?

This is quite sensible as well. The past has already happened, the future did not happen. At delta t, man only owns that moment, the present.

3. The present is the same to all, though that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment

He’s saying … er, what is he saying? I get that what is lost appears to be a mere moment, based on 2. above. Also, that moment lost is not the same for everyone. With him till here, but then he makes the assertion that the present is the same for all (how? For goldfish perhaps. Doesn’t memory play a part in making the present moment different for every human consciousness? And circumstance. Set and setting, duh!).

4. All things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years, or two hundred, or an infinite time

Unsubstantiated, though not entirely logically wrong, if life is defined as experiencing new things only (simple existence won’t count).

5. The longest liver and he (any man) will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not

Sigh. One critical logical loop hole (in 3. above) and perhaps he felt better about going out into the treacherous and unsure world next day.

Fapping would have helped. Maybe.

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