Modern man tends to absolute his scientific and technical achievements, is a sort of narcissus and killer of all forms of discomfort. In his ideas, plans and procedures he often discovers moral relativism, tendency to materialism, technical progressiveness, private religion and other realities of modern society
. There is room for everything there but death. Death is maybe the only remaining taboo, a natural and social phenomenon which prevents the complete moral collapse and slows down the general social tendency to disdain traditional values in favour of a dangerous and risky scientific progress which tirelessly is searching mainly for an a elixir of eternal youth and eternal life. This is not new for society or for science. Since the existence of man, he has been fighting the feelings of transience, fragility, deterioration with all available means and manners because he is afraid of death and of being forgotten which death implicitly implies and underlines under its wing. Today's man, who can conquer almost anything, death is a contradiction which questions his life. He does not want to hear- memento, homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris, and does not want to deal with it because he has always had one discomfort, one desire, and that is for eternal life. It lives in man eternally and stays with him.
The modern man is “enriched” with various knowledge based on scientific discoveries, has knowledge of death from the biological standpoint, from the cells, organs to the entire body, he has objective indicators that define the moment of biological death and he can cognitively understand it, but he can accept emotional mortality
less than ever before, [1
]. Even though death has many definitions1
, where it is differentiated in a religious manner from the medical one, the medical one from the philosophical one and so on, each of them sees death as a way of leaving life, losing life, leaving this world. Other than that, all science agrees that death is the basic integral part of life; it is inevitable, unquestionable and unavoidable. Such a vision of death then defines life which we see as gradual dying. St. Augustin warned man that by living, he is partially dying. This is what life itself and human experience is constantly showing us. Besides this, today more than ever before, live is “spent” on looking for a way to satisfy the deepest human desire, the one towards duration, permanence, eternity and immortality. The modern man is simply haunted by the fact of the inevitability of death and 1
facing his own aging and old age as a result of a life phase.
From a purely anthropological perspective (regardless of religiosity) man sees death as his end, and aging as extinguishing his vital functions. Psychologically, death and dying is seen as something tragic, terrible, implying termination, separation, disintegration of existing relationships, structures and values. Besides this, main is in fear of failure in life, failures and the lack of the development of his potentials and talents [2
]. It is an anthropological and psychological problem that is often based on Christianity, especially Christian personalism, which enriches the attitude toward life and death. Man simply takes attitude toward life and death in accordance with his religious belief and according to which he measures the extent and quality of human life. Life has a specific task and mission, and when it is threatened and no visible quality and when it is the explicit meaning of pain and suffering is not found. Christianity or a Christian asks himself a question of whether all evil should be avoided at all costs or can evil be useful; death is the end of everything, or is it a new beginning which then certainly has its value [3
Death namely reminds us of the fact that we are limited in time, that we have a certain period of time in order to do something and also to miss something, that something “gets out of our hand”.
Some philosophical currents, such as existentialism, in these life components
or aging and death (dying), reveal the absurdity and the absurdity of life, and more specifically in death they see nothingness, absolute annulment, final vanishing and irreversible deterioration.
Except in life, science and religion, death and dying are inevitable in art as a source of inspiration, an eternal motive
shrouded in mystery and something mystical that opens a space for creativity and interpretation. "That is," says Meša Selimovic, "the end of one man, of life, of one mind, one desire, will, effort, love, hate, envy, ambition, a complex mechanism that looked so powerful, and so marvellous in its capability, and suddenly it is all gone, everything has stopped as a broken clock and nothing can ever make it work again" [4
Death understood and accepted in this way scares man and he tries during his life to suppress the idea of death and basically the entire society
, collectively looking, ignores death as an integral part of life and switches to the world of fiction and entertainment, to big screens and pages of daily newspapers. The world of entertainment is turned by death into numbers of dead, injured, killed and are described as scandals or sensations. Not only does this change the perception of death but also of life itself which is then not lived in the same measure it is watched, analyzed or spoken about through media. Modern
society which is prone to entertainment confirms Hegel's thought that those who avoid death at all costs have really not even got to have known life. Today people are more inclined to watch another life (and death as well) than to rather face their own mortality and to live their own life.
Other than death forming ideas of life, at one time it was believed that the way someone died revealed how they lived and that death reveals something of the man himself. He is against death, feels fear from it, fights consciously and subconsciously the fact that his life has an end even though death is all around him. That is why the II Vatican Council in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes confirms that precisely when facing death does the mystery of human behaviour reach its peak. We are witnesses to how human behaviour can be paradoxical. Even though his own death terrifies him as well as the death of those dear to him, man tends to manipulate life and playing and gambling with death. Voluntarily he causes situations which are dangerous to life. For example, he practices extreme sports for personal pleasure, honour, pride, adventure, reputation and alike, consumes dangerous substances and exaggerates in that consumption, is careless in traffic and alike. Many everyday bad habits show the human willingness to endanger their life and other lives.
Besides this, under the excuse that he is pressured by requests of justice, some rights of the modern man provoke death.
Let us just remember euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment and other methods which today represent serious social, bioethical, legal, political and other problems.
Contradiction in the attitude to life and death is reflected in the capabilities of suicide that indicate a person's awareness of life, perception of life and opportunities that his life and death is managed in a way that other creatures cannot manage.
All definitions of death, those medical, biological, anthropological, theological and other sciences, have proven to be insufficient because death is not shown as a scientific problem, but a problem of the individual and his awareness of his own mortality and transience, which almost never leads to intellectual satisfaction nor emotional-spiritual calming. Memento mori to the modern man does not ring in his ears because he assiduously tries to overrule the echo in his minds and experience. He suppresses the truth on the margins of his life and thinking.
The picture of the state of modern society and its aspirations eventually show that for man it has become easier to belittle life than devise it, it is easier to extinguish it than to deal with the suffering and misery of small daily deaths that man experiences through illness, poverty, separation or loss of loved ones.
Attitude towards life and towards death, moreover, reflects our feelings towards others, especially our loved ones, and we can say that the opposite is happening, interpersonal relationships that we nurture affect our lives and attitudes
toward death. In others, often man finds the meaning of his life or he builds it with them. In the death of another, the death of our beloved and loved one we see our own death and with the death of the loved one, we “die” as well [5
]. "I closed her eyes. Great sadness was in my heart and overflowed in tears (...). What then is what was hurting me inside so much? Undoubtedly the fresh wound due to the abrupt termination of a dear habit of living together” [6
]. Death is not the problem of the dying (those in the last stages of life), but also his loved ones who partly die with them.
Therefore, all philosophical
reasoning, scientific research, artistic trivialization, family and friends comforting have not given any response or comfort to the eternal question of death, or what it hides, or even worse, what it does not hide. Fear of nothing, nothingness, or fear of punishment, is the fear of atheists and believers fear that increasingly haunts, from what we are more and more scared of. The atheist notion of death, which has a "scientific sense" by which the death frees up space for others, still comes down to dread and anxiety because death has the reputation of the complete degradation of man and his life, which is none other than a waiting room for death, a place where they share one-way tickets into oblivion. Man knows he must die, but there is an emotional brake against extinction, forgetfulness and pain. Jaspers noticed this in borderline situations in which a person is faced with a lethal threat begins searching for the meaning of life and recognizes its value. Such an attitude toward death is much closer to reality and the human experience of understanding death as a tragic event that leads to nothingness and nothingness, as it was interpreted by some philosophers of existentialism like Sartre and Camus. Such an attitude completely devalues life and shows its absurdity.
The psychological barrier against death only a small number of people manage to overcome, mainly with large religious enthusiasm, ambition, hope that after death or earthly life, the Gardens of Eden and eternal life is waiting for them.
As we have seen, death can be the object of science
and art, it is the integral and essential part of nature, culture and life since the beginning of time. The issue of death is always active and because of this it demands justice or conscience that often shapes our attitude towards death.