Do we die when we die?

Lack of a solid and foolproof definition of death causes undue ambiguity in medical cases. Also, many religions talk about after- life. So, do ‘you’ die when you die? Because, the ‘you’ – your specific identifier like Soul, Inner Consciousness – can, as per few religions, reincarnate as another being. So, that means you died, but ‘you’ didn’t die.

Organ donation then throws up even more piercing questions. If organ functioning is the base criteria to define death, then, obviously, somebody whose organs are no more within his body is dead. But what if those organs are well nigh having a blast inside some other body?

And what, if not organs but someone underwent a body part, say, a small finger or hand, transplant? Should that finger be accorded the same importance as a critical organ like the heart while deciding the definition of death?

If we dig further, we may finally arrive at the existential absurdity of the Ship of Theseus. Broadly dealing with ambiguity in pin- pointing a person’s essence in an ‘organ’ic sense, it also questions the definition of death.

There can be a social death too. During tragedies like earthquakes, floods and wars, people vanish and are ‘presumed dead’. These missing people might as well be alive and kicking in some faraway place. This further leads us on to the role of the observer as postulated by Quantum Physics. The Schrodinger’s Cat is purring somewhere now, one guesses.


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