Death is, for good reason, one of the oddest, most debated upon, and “scariest” topics that has ever been spoken upon. It’s a common topic in philosophy as well. One thing, if anything, that can be agreed upon about death, is that it is inevitable. All human beings, at this current point in time, at some point, will die. It’s a strange phenomenon – we’re scared of death – we don’t talk about death, as we’re uncomfortable when doing so – but it is one of the few certain outcomes that life has to offer. Look at the following images:
These two images are for two athletes – the first is for Kobe Bryant, who passed away earlier this year in a tragic helicopter accident. The second is for Hank Aaron, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, who is currently alive and is 86 years old. The first memorial is in memory of a national icon who has already passed away, while the other is for one who will likely no longer be with us within the next twenty years. Why is this? In a hundred years or so, there won’t be many people on this earth who know or remember very much about either of these individuals – so why do we put so much effort into carrying on their memory?
This is where the philosophy concerning death comes into play. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition on death is that it is the end of life – fair enough. It’s difficult to get much deeper into defining death than that, because to do so, one must define what exactly life is, what constitutes living and not living, and where that ends, therefore making someone or something “dead.” This is not the subject at hand.
The human population is afraid of death because of our fear of the unknown. Famed writer H.P. Lovecraft once quoted that, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” We fear death, because we don’t know what exactly it entails – it’s an unknown. While we put tremendous effort into carrying on the memory of our loved ones through monuments, shrines, murals, or so on, the theory of ghosts is one of the most interesting death-applied theories out there.
Ghosts are the supernatural embodiments of the deceased returning to earth. There’s a few different beings that fall within this category – angels and demons being the two most prominent. The concept of ghosts has been created as a sort of comforting system for us to cope with the unknown concept of death. The theory of ghosts was created to combat the unsureness of what comes after death – we hope that our lost loved ones come back as ghosts, and that we may be able to as well once we pass away, to help alleviate our fear of not knowing what comes when our life ends.
In conclusion, our creation of memorials, and of ghost theory, go hand in hand. While memorials are more to pay respects, and to carry on the memory of those who have died, and ghost theory was created in the hope that those who have passed on can come back in some respect, both were created because of our fear of the unknown. We don’t know what happens when we pass away – we don’t even know if those who have passed on would want us to create the memorials for them that we do. However, we’ve created the theory of ghosts, and make memorials for them in the hopes of honoring their name.