Religious rites of a loved one!
#13
Thanks for all the replies. Its nice to finally have a discussion about this topic thats been bugging me. I read through half the replies, and here are my thoughts.

(19-Aug-2010, 08:51 PM)palaeo Wrote: The death of a loved one isn't the best occasion to tackle religious issues. If a loved one died and he/she was a theist and wanted a certain funeral, I would oblige. It has nothing to do with religion, but the respect you have for that persons wishes. We know that it's irrational because as you said astrokid.nj, the dead don't care. So what? But I think we as living, breathing, feeling human beings, should care. Even atheists have funerals, where meaningful words are spoken and memories are relived. It is as much a ritual as saying a prayer before burying a loved one.
Yes. The death of a loved one is a horrible time to tackle any issue, becuase I definitely will not be my rational self at that moment. And it isnt that I wont love / respect the person, because I will and I'll be missing the person more than anything in the world.

The question that was in my mind is that, lets assume that my parents wanted the proper 11 day thing (ofcourse they do already). I would rather have a quite funeral where friends and family can share grief. And instead of wasting a week more in fruitless stuff, I would rather spend the money on a old age home, or a orphanage or do something that actually makes me feel satisfied and think about all the good things still left in the world.

Ofcourse I can do this. The question is, will the guilt tripping that will definitely come from my relatives guilt me into resenting this decision. Will I feel guilty for not "respecting" my parents wish for a full funeral when in life I had never respected any of their religion beliefs? Its just a very confusing thought for me.

Swati Wrote:I would also expect that my life as an atheist and my hard fought and won freedom from religion is upheld by not subjecting my body to meaningless rituals just because I won't be able to stop them.
@swati: Why do you feel this way? For me, I dont care what they do with my body after I'm dead. Atleast thats how I feel now. The only part I care about is that my friends and family have each other to grieve when I leave them. I dont really care how they do it. For me, my death isnt about me. Its rather about ppl who've loved me and are in grief over my death. In the same way, the death of my loved ones, isnt about them, but its about ppl who've loved them, myself included.

I do want to know why you feel compelled on what happens to you lifeless body after you are dead?

(19-Aug-2010, 09:13 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Remember the category error from the rape thread? Acting on one's beliefs/knowledge is not mutually exclusive with staying true to the wishes of a loved one. We all have emotional investments.
Can you direct me to the "rape thread"? Its kinda hard to follow the discussions between you and Astrokid without knowing what Category error means.
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#14
Quote:Can you direct me to the "rape thread"? Its kinda hard to follow the discussions between you and Astrokid without knowing what Category error means.

Here's the thread in question. http://nirmukta.net/Thread-Are-Women-Who...Like-Sluts

Category errors are a large class of errors in philosophy of logic, and the particular case in question has to do with a sub class of category errors that have to do with the naturalistic fallacy, a formal fallacy in epistemology. I'm sorry the theory gets pretty complex, but it can be understood in simple terms using examples

Please allow me to comment on your questions to Swati. I'm sure she has some even more interesting stuff to say than I do, but this presents a perfect example for demonstrating the category error.

Quote:@swati: Why do you feel this way? For me, I dont care what they do with my body after I'm dead. Atleast thats how I feel now. The only part I care about is that my friends and family have each other to grieve when I leave them. I dont really care how they do it. For me, my death isnt about me. Its rather about ppl who've loved me and are in grief over my death. In the same way, the death of my loved ones, isnt about them, but its about ppl who've loved them, myself included.

I do want to know why you feel compelled on what happens to you lifeless body after you are dead?

The reasons for why we "feel" a certain way about the decisions that we make, are all emotional. The category error in this case is made when we confuse the distinction between the facts (in this case, that the beliefs of the person are nonsense) and values (that we do or don't care about their wishes). The facts affect the values, but the values always have moral premises assigned to them that lead to unique deterministic ends. These moral premises are a result of our internal architecture, as it interacts and molds itself to our experiences.

The truth is, both you and Swati are having a conversation that gauges the range of each other's value system. Such conversations are great, because they tend to bring about agreement (even if just to disagree) through reason and compassion, as long as the facts are accurate (the freethought aspect). The intellectually honest way to have such discussions is by acknowledging that there are value-statements involved, and that we are weighing one's value against another's. For example, you have a great point when you weigh the emotional elements of fulfilling a 11 day ordeal against benefiting an orphanage (in your response to Palaeo). That is an emotional value statement, and one that I applaud. It is only when the moral premises (and thus value system) of one's positions are buried under the pretext of being rational that the category error is made. These cases arise because of the confusion of one's own moral premises for facts. Just so we are clear, you are not making the category error.

I must also say that this type of error is extremely common, and in fact we all do it all the time. Its just that the error takes on more importance in certain cases where moral premises are not clearly made distinct from factual assertions when the expressed value-systems are under debate. The rape thread is a case in point.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#15
One last point on this. I have been talking about the category error, but haven't really said where my values lie. In truth I don't know how I would react to a real life situation involving the given conditions. These are complicated issues, often requiring specific case by case evaluation, as is obvious from the excellent discussion in this thread. But that is no reason for us to seek simple seemingly-rational solutions that ignore moral premises. When values-premises are involved, there are innumerable emotional trajectories available to us, and the details of the situation will always play a role.

Anyone is free to take either position (looking at this as a black/white dichotomy for convenience sake) in this argument, and either position can be 'right' by their values, as long as they are right on the facts. The real discussion then is about the moral premises themselves!
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
(20-Aug-2010, 12:23 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Astrokid,

You persisted in making the category error after it was made clear that you were making the category error. I did initially give you the simple answer of "emotional investment". You did not think that it sufficed, as evidenced by your answer. Now you claim that it would have been. Confusing.

Allow me to dispel the confusion. You know very well how talking on the internet robs us of the tone cues/visual cues that are an integral part of a face-to-face conversation. Of course we do re-read our writeups before posting with this knowledge, but definetely a few things are bound to slip. Its too expensive to be ultra-careful, and hence one should always be generous with giving the other person a benefit of doubt.

In this case, I was asking Swati a "lead-up" question, to get to the motivation behind the stance. And posing the question included a few statements that seemingly demo'ed a contra-postion (which need or need not be my position). Just as you have a way of using 'crap' in your face-to-face conversations, I might have a way of using "lead-up" questions/(almost) devils-advocate question. You will notice that I subconsciously even addressed it just to Swati. In a real-world conversation, if somebody other than the person who is directly asked the question responds, we might even shush that person (I am not trying to shush anyone on the internet now.. I am just saying)

Once I had heard the answer the answer of "emotional investment" (preferably from Swati herself), then I made my position known. When I made my position know, you will notice that it was addressed to no one in particular.. which kind of indicates that thats my position.. which is how we do it in real life, when speaking to a group of people. We probably look at no one in particular.

Either way.. my purpose in this post was just to dispel the confusion. Not to debate the stances. Lets move on to bigger fish to fry.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead
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#17
I'm in the middle of nowhere and just managed a wireless connection for a few minutes. I will get back to the discussion once I get proper access to the internet, which could take days.
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#18
@ palaeo
"The death of a loved one isn't the best occasion to tackle religious issues."
I agree.

@ astrokid.nj
"Why is that Swati? The dead dont care.. the relatives are not able to sway your mind.. i.e effectively nobody's watching, there's no pressure on you.. then why wouldnt you act based on your beliefs/knowledge?"

I did say "if I was the custodian". First of all, being female lets me off the responsibility of conducting the religious rites for a parent's funeral - "the sins of the father are visited upon the sons". When I say that I would see that the rites are conducted as per the dead person's wishes, it means I will not object if my brother is performing the rites, but I will certainly object if he does that when the dead person is an atheist.

It is a question of personal ethics. Yes, nobody's watching, but once I commit to something I do not cheat. Also, this concession to religion is only for the day of the funeral, not afterwards. Yes, emotions are involved.

I agree with "unsorted" that it is a reluctant compliance.



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#19
@ mohankarthik

"@swati: Why do you feel this way? For me, I dont care what they do with my body after I'm dead. Atleast thats how I feel now. The only part I care about is that my friends and family have each other to grieve when I leave them. I dont really care how they do it. For me, my death isnt about me. Its rather about ppl who've loved me and are in grief over my death. In the same way, the death of my loved ones, isnt about them, but its about ppl who've loved them, myself included.

I do want to know why you feel compelled on what happens to you lifeless body after you are dead?"

I want to know while I'm alive. It is just a way to find out who really cares enough for you to respect your beliefs even when you're dead. Of course, I will not know after I'm dead what happened to my body. I hope I'm making sense to you.

It should matter to every atheist whether he/she has family or friends whom it can be mentioned in a matter-of-fact manner what he/she would want done with their body. Why should we be squeamish about talking about this once? This reminds me that we could discuss euthanasia in another thread.

I've been an atheist for a long time now. From my experience, I can say that having an atheist child changes the parents too. They become less religious and ritualistic.
One more tip for you. The atheist parent will tell the atheist one/s of all his children as to what type of funeral they would prefer. The religious ones will never discuss death or funeral arrangements (bad omen), instead just assume that all religious rites will be conducted and followed.
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#20
@Ajita: Thanks for the example. I think I'm understanding the category error idea a little better. Our actions and thought process is affected by values which are formed primarily through life experience and our emotional attachment. And when we assume that some action of ours happen just because of our beliefs or just because it is rational, then we make the error. I hope this is atleast a little right smile

(28-Aug-2010, 08:25 AM)Swati Wrote: I want to know while I'm alive.
I think I understand! Although I dont think its completely rational. Because they can just as well, not do that once you are dead. They'll probably assume that by at least doing the rites you are saved from hell. I am 100% sure that if I die right now, my parents will definitely do all they can to stop my "definite meet with Mr.Devil" smile.

That said, I dont think its irrational as well! I think its fine to want to hear what you like to hear while you are alive. Although for me I think I might get a feeling of self-delusion if I do that! Just a little. What I'm trying to say is that I dont think its "wrong" to want that. Just that maybe, I wont feel "right" to do that myself. As I said above, I think the death of a person is about the people who love him / her and not about the person itself.

(28-Aug-2010, 08:25 AM)Swati Wrote: Why should we be squeamish about talking about this once?
One more tip for you. The atheist parent will tell the atheist one/s of all his children as to what type of funeral they would prefer. The religious ones will never discuss death or funeral arrangements (bad omen), instead just assume that all religious rites will be conducted and followed.
Interesting observation! Not something that I can instantly agree, because I have not talked to many atheists, especially the not so young atheists for whom dying is a closer reality than myself (atleast theoretically). But yes, I definitely think that we should talk about it. But I guess that years of not being a openly speaking person is making me a little nervous about talking about this topic face to face. Hopefully, the more I think about it, the more comfortable I get with the idea. Which was one of the reasons I started this thread.
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#21
(28-Aug-2010, 09:51 AM)mohankarthik Wrote: @Ajita: Thanks for the example. I think I'm understanding the category error idea a little better. Our actions and thought process is affected by values which are formed primarily through life experience and our emotional attachment. And when we assume that some action of ours happen just because of our beliefs or just because it is rational, then we make the error. I hope this is atleast a little right smile

Hi Mohan, you have got the right idea. I like the angle that you are bringing to this, because it approaches from an applied perspective. You are 100% right when you say that our values are "formed primarily through life experience and our emotional attachment". At an even more fundamental level, it is the our values that make us who we are. The facts that we know about the world only inform those values.

The main distinction here is between values and knowledge of facts, not between values and beliefs. In fact, both values and knowledge are forms of belief.

The truth is the two categories, values and facts, are part of a more a complex set of categories, and philosophers have identified up to 8 distinct categories that are come into play during human mental processes. For instance, cognitive values such as logic exist in a murky area between traditional values and facts. But for the sake of our discussion, the broad distinctions are sufficient.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#22


(19-Aug-2010, 08:51 PM)palaeo Wrote: The death of a loved one isn't the best occasion to tackle religious issues. If a loved one died and he/she was a theist and wanted a certain funeral, I would oblige. It has nothing to do with religion, but the respect you have for that persons wishes. We know that it's irrational because as you said astrokid.nj, the dead don't care. So what? But I think we as living, breathing, feeling human beings, should care. Even atheists have funerals, where meaningful words are spoken and memories are relived. It is as much a ritual as saying a prayer before burying a loved one.

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#23
Whatever ritual we have been practising for centuries is based on lies.
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#24
(28-Aug-2010, 09:51 AM)mohankarthik Wrote: @Ajita: Thanks for the example. I think I'm understanding the category error idea a little better. Our actions and thought process is affected by values which are formed primarily through life experience and our emotional attachment. And when we assume that some action of ours happen just because of our beliefs or just because it is rational, then we make the error. I hope this is atleast a little right smile

(28-Aug-2010, 08:25 AM)Swati Wrote: I want to know while I'm alive.
I think I understand! Although I dont think its completely rational. Because they can just as well, not do that once you are dead. They'll probably assume that by at least doing the rites you are saved from hell. I am 100% sure that if I die right now, my parents will definitely do all they can to stop my "definite meet with Mr.Devil" smile.

That said, I dont think its irrational as well! I think its fine to want to hear what you like to hear while you are alive. Although for me I think I might get a feeling of self-delusion if I do that! Just a little. What I'm trying to say is that I dont think its "wrong" to want that. Just that maybe, I wont feel "right" to do that myself. As I said above, I think the death of a person is about the people who love him / her and not about the person itself.

(28-Aug-2010, 08:25 AM)Swati Wrote: Why should we be squeamish about talking about this once?
One more tip for you. The atheist parent will tell the atheist one/s of all his children as to what type of funeral they would prefer. The religious ones will never discuss death or funeral arrangements (bad omen), instead just assume that all religious rites will be conducted and followed.
Interesting observation! Not something that I can instantly agree, because I have not talked to many atheists, especially the not so young atheists for whom dying is a closer reality than myself (atleast theoretically). But yes, I definitely think that we should talk about it. But I guess that years of not being a openly speaking person is making me a little nervous about talking about this topic face to face. Hopefully, the more I think about it, the more comfortable I get with the idea. Which was one of the reasons I started this thread.

@ mohankarthik

I had figured out that you're a young person. I've gone through this at your age. I'm glad you started this thread. It's nice to have this forum to discuss issues such as this here.
Each person will think through or act when the situation arises as per the given circumstances. But in my thoughts, it has always been crystal clear that the dead person has the "right to last rites" whether explicitly expressed or implied indirectly during their lifetime. My grief cannot be paramount to these rights of a person to want their body disposed of how they wish. The ownership of the body lies with the person to whom it belongs in life and death. We are custodians and if we really cared about them, we'd not break the trust they had in us while alive to do the needful.

You're right about what your family would do if you were to die right now. You seem to be alright with that thought, so there's no issue. But, if as you mentioned in your earlier post, you do not care to perform any religious rites for your loved ones, as you're an atheist, and you're too busy grieving at your loss, would you after some time feel any guilt or regret it? How would your family react if they knew that you thought this way?

I think you misunderstood me. You're talking about self-delusion as if I like living in illusions. I'm in a different phase of life where I've earned respect from my family for my beliefs. This validation of my life will be there in death as well.
Even without having explicitly mentioned funeral arrangements, I am 99.9% sure that I can trust some people in life and death. The small margin of doubt is only for unforeseen circumstances and if I live longer than them.
When I say that I will not know after I'm dead, I'm merely stating the biological fact that once the brain is dead, we'll not know same as a person who is in a coma.

When I said I want to know while I'm alive, it simply meant that I started expressing my views on religion, superstitions, meaningless rituals very openly with my family.
As atheists, we influence our families too. I know if I die tomorrow, my eyes and other useful organs will be donated to a hospital.

It's good to start talking about things with families, though it's not a good idea to start with this particular subject of death and funerals. We can choose our friends but not our parents. It's a duty also to save them from being duped, so one can try gently debunking some superstitious beliefs.


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