Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Use this forum to discuss the September 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Not So Great American Novel by James E Doucette
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LuckyR
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by LuckyR »

Sushan wrote: September 4th, 2022, 2:08 am
LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2022, 12:15 pm
Sushan wrote: September 1st, 2022, 7:49 am This topic is about the September 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Not So Great American Novel by James E Doucette


Recently I came upon several memoirs (including this one) that were written by people who had terminal (or potentially terminal) illnesses. This made me think "why people tend to look back when they are close to death?". And the real question rose when I thought about it from another perspective; Why people wait till death without looking back when they have enough of their lifetimes to become better (well, if necessary)?
If my experience is any gauge, we start THINKING about our pasts around retirement, when we have more free time and fewer goals in the future and no kids to focus on. But folks don't WRITE ABOUT their pasts until we have an endpoint (are nearer to death).
It is quite true. When we have more time we tend to think more, and if we have a less amount of future goals we tend to think about the past. But what is special about WRITING about the past when someone is near the literal end?
Wanting to leave a legacy after you are gone.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Sushan wrote: September 4th, 2022, 2:08 am But what is special about WRITING about the past when someone is near the literal end?
LuckyR wrote: September 4th, 2022, 4:33 am Wanting to leave a legacy after you are gone.
Yes, I think you've hit the nail on the head!
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

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...possibly because there's nothing further to look forward to so when close to death the backward glance is the only direction available. The ending of many novels usually compels some kind of summary in its conclusion.
The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its diseases is called man ... Nietzsche
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Sushan »

LuckyR wrote: September 4th, 2022, 4:33 am
Sushan wrote: September 4th, 2022, 2:08 am
LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2022, 12:15 pm
Sushan wrote: September 1st, 2022, 7:49 am This topic is about the September 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, The Not So Great American Novel by James E Doucette


Recently I came upon several memoirs (including this one) that were written by people who had terminal (or potentially terminal) illnesses. This made me think "why people tend to look back when they are close to death?". And the real question rose when I thought about it from another perspective; Why people wait till death without looking back when they have enough of their lifetimes to become better (well, if necessary)?
If my experience is any gauge, we start THINKING about our pasts around retirement, when we have more free time and fewer goals in the future and no kids to focus on. But folks don't WRITE ABOUT their pasts until we have an endpoint (are nearer to death).
It is quite true. When we have more time we tend to think more, and if we have a less amount of future goals we tend to think about the past. But what is special about WRITING about the past when someone is near the literal end?
Wanting to leave a legacy after you are gone.
Maybe yes, maybe not. To leave a legacy your book should atleast be a best seller. And need to be widely accepted as well. This can happen if you are a renowned author and you can have some sort of a 'possible' assumption. But for some of these people their autobiography is the first as well as last book they write. And they hold the potential of going either way, being a legacy or a laughingstock. But still they write. Why?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

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Tegularius wrote: September 7th, 2022, 10:05 pm ...possibly because there's nothing further to look forward to so when close to death the backward glance is the only direction available. The ending of many novels usually compels some kind of summary in its conclusion.
Yes, but some of them end with cliffhangers. We cannot say for sure that death is the end or a conclusion of our lives. For the believers of life after death there will be many things to think and look forward.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by LuckyR »

Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:23 pm
LuckyR wrote: September 4th, 2022, 4:33 am
Sushan wrote: September 4th, 2022, 2:08 am
LuckyR wrote: September 2nd, 2022, 12:15 pm

If my experience is any gauge, we start THINKING about our pasts around retirement, when we have more free time and fewer goals in the future and no kids to focus on. But folks don't WRITE ABOUT their pasts until we have an endpoint (are nearer to death).
It is quite true. When we have more time we tend to think more, and if we have a less amount of future goals we tend to think about the past. But what is special about WRITING about the past when someone is near the literal end?
Wanting to leave a legacy after you are gone.
Maybe yes, maybe not. To leave a legacy your book should atleast be a best seller. And need to be widely accepted as well. This can happen if you are a renowned author and you can have some sort of a 'possible' assumption. But for some of these people their autobiography is the first as well as last book they write. And they hold the potential of going either way, being a legacy or a laughingstock. But still they write. Why?
The personal impact of an event is viewed in relation to personal norms. Success to a published author is a best seller. Success (a legacy) to someone who is not a published author, could easily be becoming published. And for those seeking a more personal legacy, writing things down in a notebook that their grandkids can read later, may be a more important legacy than any of the above.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Tegularius »

Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:24 pm
Tegularius wrote: September 7th, 2022, 10:05 pm ...possibly because there's nothing further to look forward to so when close to death the backward glance is the only direction available. The ending of many novels usually compels some kind of summary in its conclusion.
Yes, but some of them end with cliffhangers. We cannot say for sure that death is the end or a conclusion of our lives. For the believers of life after death there will be many things to think and look forward.
Its probability is low enough to almost be zero. Why should a human, by virtue of being born as such believe there is an afterlife? Nature doesn't grant that privilege to any other creature IT created. Why should humans be an exception? Likely it's because we want to be not because we are.
The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its diseases is called man ... Nietzsche
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Sushan »

Tegularius wrote: September 13th, 2022, 2:26 pm
Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:24 pm
Tegularius wrote: September 7th, 2022, 10:05 pm ...possibly because there's nothing further to look forward to so when close to death the backward glance is the only direction available. The ending of many novels usually compels some kind of summary in its conclusion.
Yes, but some of them end with cliffhangers. We cannot say for sure that death is the end or a conclusion of our lives. For the believers of life after death there will be many things to think and look forward.
Its probability is low enough to almost be zero. Why should a human, by virtue of being born as such believe there is an afterlife? Nature doesn't grant that privilege to any other creature IT created. Why should humans be an exception? Likely it's because we want to be not because we are.
How can we be so sure that we, humans are the only beings that are offered with after life? What if all the creatures get that privilege (or suffering)? Why should everything be focused only on humans?
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Tegularius »

Sushan wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 10:29 am
Tegularius wrote: September 13th, 2022, 2:26 pm
Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:24 pm
Tegularius wrote: September 7th, 2022, 10:05 pm ...possibly because there's nothing further to look forward to so when close to death the backward glance is the only direction available. The ending of many novels usually compels some kind of summary in its conclusion.
Yes, but some of them end with cliffhangers. We cannot say for sure that death is the end or a conclusion of our lives. For the believers of life after death there will be many things to think and look forward.
Its probability is low enough to almost be zero. Why should a human, by virtue of being born as such believe there is an afterlife? Nature doesn't grant that privilege to any other creature IT created. Why should humans be an exception? Likely it's because we want to be not because we are.
How can we be so sure that we, humans are the only beings that are offered with after life? What if all the creatures get that privilege (or suffering)? Why should everything be focused only on humans?
Good question! Even so, humans invariably focus on themselves when it comes to an afterlife and give themselves the priority in everything. The rest of creation doesn't concern itself with any of that it in the least.
The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its diseases is called man ... Nietzsche
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Sushan »

Tegularius wrote: September 25th, 2022, 4:36 pm
Sushan wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 10:29 am
Tegularius wrote: September 13th, 2022, 2:26 pm
Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:24 pm

Yes, but some of them end with cliffhangers. We cannot say for sure that death is the end or a conclusion of our lives. For the believers of life after death there will be many things to think and look forward.
Its probability is low enough to almost be zero. Why should a human, by virtue of being born as such believe there is an afterlife? Nature doesn't grant that privilege to any other creature IT created. Why should humans be an exception? Likely it's because we want to be not because we are.
How can we be so sure that we, humans are the only beings that are offered with after life? What if all the creatures get that privilege (or suffering)? Why should everything be focused only on humans?
Good question! Even so, humans invariably focus on themselves when it comes to an afterlife and give themselves the priority in everything. The rest of creation doesn't concern itself with any of that it in the least.
Do we really know about how other animals are thinking? I think even science has a long way to go in that field, and we cannot completely rule out the possibility of other animal's thoughts (or feelings kind of) of an after life. I think there is no universal attempt on such an endeavor because after life is not commonly accepted even among humans.
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Sushan »

LuckyR wrote: September 13th, 2022, 2:23 pm
Sushan wrote: September 13th, 2022, 1:23 pm
LuckyR wrote: September 4th, 2022, 4:33 am
Sushan wrote: September 4th, 2022, 2:08 am

It is quite true. When we have more time we tend to think more, and if we have a less amount of future goals we tend to think about the past. But what is special about WRITING about the past when someone is near the literal end?
Wanting to leave a legacy after you are gone.
Maybe yes, maybe not. To leave a legacy your book should atleast be a best seller. And need to be widely accepted as well. This can happen if you are a renowned author and you can have some sort of a 'possible' assumption. But for some of these people their autobiography is the first as well as last book they write. And they hold the potential of going either way, being a legacy or a laughingstock. But still they write. Why?
The personal impact of an event is viewed in relation to personal norms. Success to a published author is a best seller. Success (a legacy) to someone who is not a published author, could easily be becoming published. And for those seeking a more personal legacy, writing things down in a notebook that their grandkids can read later, may be a more important legacy than any of the above.
I agree. Everything is relative. So becoming a legacy can be viewed differently by different people. But with the widely aavailable option of becoming a self-publisher, I think becoming a legacy by publishing a book have become far easy, and possibly less valuable these days 🤔
“There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers”

– William James
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Re: Why people tend to look back when they are close to death?

Post by Tegularius »

Sushan wrote: Yesterday, 7:05 pm
Tegularius wrote: September 25th, 2022, 4:36 pm
Sushan wrote: September 23rd, 2022, 10:29 am
Tegularius wrote: September 13th, 2022, 2:26 pm

Its probability is low enough to almost be zero. Why should a human, by virtue of being born as such believe there is an afterlife? Nature doesn't grant that privilege to any other creature IT created. Why should humans be an exception? Likely it's because we want to be not because we are.
How can we be so sure that we, humans are the only beings that are offered with after life? What if all the creatures get that privilege (or suffering)? Why should everything be focused only on humans?
Good question! Even so, humans invariably focus on themselves when it comes to an afterlife and give themselves the priority in everything. The rest of creation doesn't concern itself with any of that it in the least.
Do we really know about how other animals are thinking? I think even science has a long way to go in that field, and we cannot completely rule out the possibility of other animal's thoughts (or feelings kind of) of an after life. I think there is no universal attempt on such an endeavor because after life is not commonly accepted even among humans.
Not absolutely even thought it's extremely unlikely that an "afterlife" would be on the list of what they're thinking about. That requires the kind of consciousness which can imagine an existence beyond itself. The afterlife idea may be ludicrous but it still depends on human intelligence to create such a theory. I'm quite certain to be reasonably safe in thinking that the animal psyche is centered exclusively in the here and now on which its real existence depends...as well as ours.
The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its diseases is called man ... Nietzsche
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