Courtney Stephenson-Richman BFA General Fine Arts Thesis Spring 2014
You are dead. So now what?
Humans have many different ideas as to what happens after death. Is there an afterlife? What kind of afterlife is it? How is the afterlife connected to our views of the self: self as the mind and self as the soul. I have believed in the basic tenets of three different belief systems with in my life. I believed we had an immortal soul separate from our bodies that would go to a realm beyond this earth. I believed that the soul cycled through life and death like the earth through night and day, and finally I believed that our soul is our mind and that it does not exist separate from our body.
There are three belief systems that I will be looking at: Norse paganism, the Hindu Upanishads, and Metaphysical Naturalism. Norse paganism believes in a soul that exists separate from the body. When the body dies, this soul goes to one of many realms to wait for Ragnarok, also known as the twilight of the gods. The Upanishads believe in a soul separate from the body as well except that this soul cycles through life and death until enough knowledge is gained to be granted entry to the heavenly realm of the gods and immortality. In contrast to these two beliefs is Metaphysical Naturalism. Metaphysical Naturalism believes that the mind is the only self we have and that upon death of the body, the self dies as well. The self, in this case, is governed by the natural laws of science.
But each of these belief systems hold that some form of energy continues on after the body dies, whether it be the soul or just the basic particles that make up the universe. And then there is another form of energy that can also live on beyond the body: written language. Memory, experience, and thought imbedded on a surface; a different style of energy that can be transferred to other nations and generations far away from its original host. But in the end only the dead know what happens after life is extinguished.