Eternal oblivion

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Oblivion, or eternal oblivion, is the belief that the individual self permanently ceases to exist after death. Some reporters describe this state as "nothingness".[1][2] Oblivion denies that there is an afterlife, or any state of existence or "life after death". The belief in eternal oblivion stems from the hypothesis that the brain creates the mind; therefore, when the brain dies, the mind ceases to exist. Many people who believe in an eternal oblivion believe that the concept of an afterlife is scientifically impossible. The idea is often associated with atheism.[3]

In the Apology of Socrates (written by Plato), after Socrates is sentenced to death, he addresses the court. He ponders on the nature of death, and summarizes that there are basically two opinions about it. The first is that it is a migration of the soul or consciousness from this existence into another, and that the souls of all previously deceased people will also be there. This excites Socrates, because he will be able to conduct his dialectic inquiries with all of the great heroes and thinkers of the past. The other opinion about death is that it is oblivion, the complete cessation of consciousness, not only unable to feel but a complete lack of awareness, like a man in a deep, dreamless sleep. Socrates says that even this oblivion does not frighten him very much, because while he would be unaware, he would correspondingly be free from any pain or suffering. Indeed, Socrates asks, not even the great King of Persia could say that he ever rested so soundly and peacefully as he did in a dreamless sleep.

Cicero, writing some four centuries later, in his treatise On Old Age similarly discussed the prospects of death (frequently referring to the works of earlier Greek writers). Cicero also concluded that death was either a continuation of consciousness or cessation of it, and that if consciousness continues in some form there is no reason to fear death, while if it is in fact eternal oblivion, he will be free of all worldly miseries, in which case he should also not be deeply troubled by death.

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  1. ^ Death, Nothingness, and Subjectivity retrieved 4 February 2012
  2. ^ The Jonathan Schell reader: on the United States at war retrieved 4 February 2012
  3. ^ "The idea that nothingness follows death is often associated with atheism" Handbook to the Afterlife retrieved 4 February 2012