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rpm_pseud0name's avatar

How different would our lives be if we weren't aware of our own demise?

Asked by rpm_pseud0name (8203points) June 20th, 2012

For the sake of hypothetical, dismiss ideas that would nullify the question. (e.g witnessing death = aware)

If we never knew/thought about our life expectancy, how do you think our lives would be different? Would it be better? Worse?

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16 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I know about my mortality but I am one that rarely, if ever, thinks about it. I also don’t fear it and accept death as a natural part of existence.
As with everything it would depend a lot on the personality type involved. I am an optimistic, spontaneous, extroverted, fly by the seat of my pants, creative type.

I am too busy learning and being engrossed in the present moment to futurize about my mortality. Certain personalities would be prone to being more negative and therefore, regardless of having no concept of mortality would find other ways to negate their life experience. They’d probably just endlessly complain about everything but wouldn’t have death as an out. lol

gondwanalon's avatar

We might go about our whole life as if we were always 18 years old.

ucme's avatar

We’d all stare at lifeless bodies like Michael Myers does in Halloween, with his head slightly tilted to one side, kind of a perplexed eroticism if you will.

Bill1939's avatar

Before one is aware of death, they think as a child. Even after they become aware, they will continue to think as a child as long as they can.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I feel like the end adds an urgency to life. We are motivated to do things now, and to do them quickly, and to do all we ever want to do because we know there will come a point where our ability to do so will no longer exist.

However, those with excessive, debilitating fear of death would probably find themselves with other things to have excessive, debilitating fears about.

King_Pariah's avatar

I do not believe much would be different, look around, how many people are aware of their own mortality on a daily basis? This question reminds me of something I had read dealing with the gift of Prometheus. Aye, we all know he gave man fire, but there was so much more to that fire. From the comfort and protection of fire, man was also given the “gift not to foresee coming doom… No thinking man of action fears the possibility of dying at any moment.” Of course the greater horror than the possiblity of dying at any moment is the certainty of death after 70, 80, how so ever many years. We are certain to die. But we don’t think of it. At least not often.

The gift of Prometheus was not just fire, but blind hope for the future, to look past the inevitablility of death. From day to day many of us forget that we are certain to die with slight reminders hither and thither. Thus I assume that if man were utterly oblivious to his own mortality he would be hardly any different than the modern man.

mazingerz88's avatar

Much, much happier at 50.

augustlan's avatar

Just thinking about this makes me a little anxious. The knowledge of my eventual death is always there, but I kind of keep it in a box in the back of my mind, in a little bubble of anxiety. More than worry about my own death, though, I worry about the deaths of those I love. (Creating a much bigger anxiety bubble.) It seems like I’d be a lot more relaxed if I didn’t know or think about about these things, so in that way it would be kind of lovely. However, as @athenasgriffin points out, the knowledge probably does motivate us to live well while we are here. Perhaps even to love well. Without it, complacency would probably set in.

Bill1939's avatar

Death is not something I fear. In fact, until I turned 21, death was something I sought. It was the perfect escape from the emotional suffering that dominated my life. I was not until my last suicide attempt that I realized the suffering my suicide would cause those who loved me, and I promised myself to wait until they had died before I would make my exodus. Now, at 72, I fear the possibility of being physically or mentally incapacitated, especially the latter, more than death.

mattbrowne's avatar

Like that of chimps and bonobos. They are not aware of this.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@mattbrowne I could have sworn that I saw a few published articles & specials on PBS that said they are a lot more aware of death than we think. Although this was a couple years ago. Could be debunked by now. Will have to look into it again. Maybe it was awareness of an others death, but not making the connection that it could happen to them… but I feel like chimps are much smarter than that.

Bill1939's avatar

Many animals, not just simians, clearly experience grief at the loss of a mate, offspring or companion. While they may not conceptualize death, they know it when they see it and experience emotion when they do. They live in a world with predators. While instinct plays a role, having witnessed the deaths of their kind they also learn what to flee from.

mattbrowne's avatar

@mattbrowne – I recently read a book written by Frans de Waal. His research concludes that chimps and bonobos are aware of death as such, because they witness this all the time, but that it also applies to them when they grow old or get sick or hurt is a different matter. They experience no fear or discomfort pondering such a future. Humans are different in that respect.

Anna737's avatar

Demise? What demise!?! Wth are you talking about? Great, thanks, for making me aware…

Anna737's avatar

Demise is a perspective, based on cultural beliefs and mores.

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