Non-Being as State of the Self

Jumping over the >shadow of one’s own existence proves such a difficult feat to perform that we, mostly, cannot envisage our own non-being except as some state of our own self. If one holds to what is implied by the following translation from the Chinese, we return, when we die, to the “state” in which we were before we began to exist – a claim which allows us to draw the conclusion that something did indeed befall “us” when “we” were called into life:  

“To die means to have no more feelings at all and to return to the state one was in before one’s birth” (Chunqiu, Spring and Autumn of Lü Bu We). Such a “state” imputed to obtain prior to the beginning of existence seems to demand to be interpreted as a kind of impetus toward being: a minimal self or quasi-self which presses, from its side, for its own actualization through the action of >Perpetrators of Existence. The necessary corrective to this notion is provided by Lichtenberg – even if his formulation of it remains obscure – in his Sudelbücher: “Only a very few people have given the thought that it deserves to the value of not-being. When I think of not-being after death what I envisage is the state in which I found myself before I was born. This is not correctly to be described as ‘apathy’ since apathy is, in a sense, still something that one feels; rather, it is simply nothing. If I pass into this state – although, in fact, neither the word ‘I’ nor the words ‘state’ fit the case at all here.” (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aus den Sudelbüchern)

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