Temporary Organs of The Race

I took a break from Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics because I’m having trouble making sense of how electromagnetism works. Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Love, War, and God by
Will Durant provided me with an easy excuse. I saw at the library in the New Arrivals section while I was checking out movies. I’d read The Lessons of History and liked it a lot–but isn’t he long dead? Turns out he died at age 91 in 1981 and was working on Fallen Leaves until he died. This book was his response to what he really thought about life and history. Apparently he never got around to publishing it, he was so busy writing about history.

Here is a thought of his on the necessity of death that I found interesting:

Only one thing is certain in history, and that is decadence; only one thing is certain in life, and that is death. This can be the great tragedy of old age, that, looking back with an inverted romantic eye, it may see only the suffering of mankind. It is hard to praise life when life abandons us, and if we speak well of it even then it is because we hope we shall find it again, of fairer form, in some realm of disembodied and deathless souls.

And yet what if it is for life’s sake that we must die? In truth we are not individuals; and it is because we think ourselves such that death seems unforgivable. We are temporary organs if the race, cells in the body of life; we die and drop away so that life may remain young and strong. If we were to live forever, growth would be stifled and youth would find no room on the earth. Death, like style, is the removal of rubbish, the circumcision of the superfluous.

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