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Existentialism 101 – Pondering on Life & an Afterlife, Part 2

Posted on 01 January 2024, 9:24

In my blog of May 23, 2023, I offered 37 quotes drawn from a hypothetical university class in Existentialism 101.  Here are an additional 25 quotes from that class to ponder on in 2024.  (Some references are listed for recent publications.)  Happy New Year!

Practicing Death: “Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.” 
– Socrates  (“Phaedo” of Plato)


Nihilism Exposed: “As you fear that life in this dimension may not count, may not have any real meaning, you relieve your anxiety by being especially scornful of the very thing that you wish for most, while underneath your writing desk you have your fingers crossed.”
– Ernest Becker, Ph.D. (1973 Pulitzer Prize winner, “The Denial of Death”)

Knowing Death: “In real psychological ways one must ‘know death’ in order to live with free imagination.”
– Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.  (American psychiatrist, “The Broken Connection”)

Smart Wager: “If I am mistaken in my opinion that the human soul is immortal, I willingly err; nor would I have this pleasant error extorted from me; and if, as some minute philosophers suppose, death should deprive me of my being I need not fear the raillery of those pretend philosophers when they are no more.” 
– Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman philosopher, 106 – 43 B.C.)

Eternal Consciousness: ‘If there were no eternal consciousness in a man, if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is significant, if a bottomless void never satiated lay beneath all – what then would life be but despair?”
– Soren Kirkegaard (Danish philosopher, “Father of Existentialism”)

Suppression of Death: “Is it not for us to confess that in our civilized attitude towards death we are once more living psychologically beyond our means, and must reform and give truth its due? Would it not be better to give death the place in actuality and in our thoughts which properly belong to it, and to yield a little more prominence to that unconscious attitude towards death which we have hitherto so carefully suppressed?’
– Sigmund Freud, M.D. (Austrian pioneer in psychiatry)

Overcoming Death Anxiety: “A man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it – even if he must confess his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss.”
  – Carl Gustav Jung, M.D.  (Swiss pioneer in psychiatry)

Lack of Thinking People: “The need of living by the spirit is felt by no one, or almost no one.  Men who think are the exception.  If these researches [of psychical matters] lead us to employ our minds better, to find what we are here to do, on this earth, we may be satisfied with this work; for, truly, our life as human beings seems very obscure.”
– Camille Flammarion (French astronomer) 

Wider Outlook: “The belief in immortality is the keystone to the arch of history, or the pivotal point about which move the intellectual, the ethical, and the political forces of all time.  If science cannot protect our ethical ideals it will have to succumb to the same corrosion that has worn away the church. Something must put an end to doubt.  There are many situations in life that call for heroic measures, and skepticism on the outcome of life offers no inducement to the heroic virtues…We need to be in a position to see beyond the horizon, if the conflicts of the present life are to be met with patience and endurance.  The wider outlook will soothe many a pain or give it spiritual significance.”
– James H. Hyslop, Ph.D., LL.D. (Professor of Logic and Ethics)

Living in Eternity: “The luster of the present hour is always borrowed from the background of possibilities it goes with.  Let our common experiences be enveloped in an eternal moral order; let our suffering have an immortal significance; let Heaven smile upon the earth, and deities pay their visits; let faith and hope be the atmosphere which man breathes in; and his days pass by with zest; they stir with prospects, they thrill with remoter values.  Place around them on the contrary the curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent meaning which for pure naturalism and the popular-science evolutionism of our time are all that is visible ultimately, and the thrill stops short, or turns rather to an anxious trembling.”  (upper right photo)
– William James, M.D. (American pioneer in psychiatry)

Rediscovering the Soul: “When medical science has finally failed, my patients can only lie and wait. But now, for the first time in all of human experience, they wait without hope, without heart, tragically unaware of the reality of their undying souls. This ‘immaterial’ ingredient was sacrificed when we embarked on our perilous modern journey of materialism and scientific mechanism, of contingency and separateness. There can be only one solution. At all costs, our hearts must be retrieved, and our hope must be restored. There is only one way to do this: our very souls must be rediscovered.”
– Stephen J. Iacoboni, M.D. (Oncologist, “The Undying Soul”)

Uncertainty: There will always remain obstructions, which by their very definition lie outside actuality.” 
– Max Planck (German physicist & originator of Quantum Theory)

Eternal Love: “This truly is a fearful idea that man must live and die, then cease. How can men live such high-abnegating lives if they believe they have no hope of loving in eternity the love that they see here in their lives? It is the tragedy of Communism that it denies the eternity of love. This is the real denial of God.” (upper left photo)
– Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding (British War hero, “The Dark Star”)

Flawed Science: “I came to realize that the Newtonian box I had been trained to use in my work as an engineer is only a fragment of the story of the conscious universe.  In a larger sense, I also learned that our 350-year-old paradigm of classical Newtonian physics, limited to three dimensions plus time, did not include everything. In fact, it fell far short and only included a very small corner of a much larger universe. I realized materialist science was deeply flawed in its world view.      
– Alan Hugenot, D.Sc. (‘New Science of Consciousness Survival”)

Believing:  “It is impossible to be exposed to death-bed and near-death experiences and not be affected by them, but what I can say with certainty is after being privileged to have heard so many accounts of near-death experiences, I’m not afraid to die. What comes next, though, I really don’t know, but I believe something does.
– Laura Bellg, M.D. (“Near Death in the ICU)

Meeting Deceased Loved Ones: “I don’t know whether some kind of continued consciousness after death is the best explanation for NDEs (near-death experiences) in which experiencers see deceased loved ones no one knew had died.  But I don’t have any alternative explanation for the evidence. We may eventually come up with another explanation, but until then, some form of continued consciousness after death seems to be the most plausible working model.”
– Bruce Greyson, M.D. (Consciousness researcher, “After”)

Consciousness Persists:  “After sixty years of investigating the question like a detective, accumulating facts, circumstances, and raw exposure to those who have had very dramatic death experiences, I am unable to think of any plausible alternatives other than to say, ‘Our consciousness persists in another framework of reality after our physical bodies die.’ Yes, I am forced to say that even though I still stammer in incomprehension when I say it. I have not yet fully internalized the idea that there is an afterlife, even though circumstances compel me to say that yes, I definitely think there is a life after life.” (lower left photo)
– Raymond A. Moody, M.D. (psychiatrist, “Proof of Life after Life”)

Strong Evidence: “Indeed the wide variety of such cases are so evidentially strong that they support a challenge I made in print twelve years ago to any sceptic that if s/he believes no proof of a paranormal event has ever been produced they should submit in detail normal explanations for the long list of cases I gave. The silence from the sceptics has been deafening, a silence that reminds me of Sherlock Holmes’ chiding of Dr. Watson because of his non-appreciation of the significance of the dog that did not bark in the night. Or the trick of young children who, displeased with the real world, close their eyes and believe that by so doing, they have cancelled that displeasing world. Or the late Sam Goldwyn who allegedly shouted, “Don’t confuse me with facts! My mind is made up!”
– Archie Roy, Ph.D. (British astronomer, “The Eager Dead”)

Scientific Fundamentalism: “Back in my traditional science days, no one would ever refer to me as a ‘believer’ in the effect of a drug or a virus on the body, but if I were to announce that mediums can report accurate information about the deceased under blinded conditions (which I regularly do), I run the risk of being labeled a proponent or believer and viewed as some kind of zealot even though I am simply drawing the appropriate conclusion from the statistics performed on data collected using a properly designed protocol.  It is a strange position in which scientists in other fields do not find themselves.” (lower right photo)
– Julie Beischel, Ph.D.  (Researcher, The Windbridge Institute)

True Faith: “I am as convinced of continued existence on the other side of death as I am of existence here.  It may be said, you cannot be as sure as you are of sensory experience.  I say I can. A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions; he has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ – the dynamical theory of heat, for instance, and of gases, the theories of electricity, of magnetism, of chemical affinity, of cohesion, aye, and his apprehension of the ether itself, lead him into regions where sight and hearing and touch are impotent as direct witnesses where they are no longer efficient guides.”
– Sir Oliver Lodge, D.Sc.  (British physicist and pioneer in electricity)

Carpe Diem Fallacy: “The rapidity of the cancer science, and the nature of the statistics, meant I might live another twelve months, or another 120.  Grand illnesses are supposed to be life-clarifying.  Instead, I knew I was going to die – but I’d known that before.  My state of knowledge was the same, but my ability to make lunch plans had been shot to hell.  The way forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left.  Tell me three months, I’d spend time with family.  Tell me one year, I’d write a book. Give me ten years, I’d get back to treating diseases.  The truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help.  What was I supposed to do with that day?”
– Paul Kalanithi, M.D.  (“When Breath Becomes Air”)

Solid Evidence: “In general I find much more support for survival than for God.  For me, there is ample empirical evidence for survival, so much from so many quarters that I regard it as proven.  But God’s reality is not so clear.  By that I mean I’m not very clear about what God is.  In particular, is God the kind of being that hears my heartfelt prayers?  And where do I meet God?  During deep meditation when I silence the inner chatter?  Is God in some sense the silence?  God to me remains something of a mystery, one I wish I could understand.  Mystical literature is a special help to me, and I share William James’ veneration of the mystic.  It does seem that the mystic makes contact with something utterly awesome.  I hope that’s God.”
– Stafford Betty, Ph.D. (“Heaven & Hell Unveiled))

Awakening Varies: “[My research] has proven conclusively that death is only a sleep and an awakening, the process of awakening depending largely upon the individual’s mental attitude, such as religious bias, unreasoning skepticism, or the willful ignorance of and indifference to life’s meaning, so prevalent among the multitude.”
– Carl Wickland, M.D.  (“Thirty Years Among the Dead”)

Skepticism & Debunking: “It is, of course, easy for the vociferous Sadducees of today to shrug their shoulders and assert that, as no evidence can establish such an impossible belief (survival of consciousness after death), they decline to waste their time in listening to nonsense.  They waive the whole matter aside with a superior gesture, confidently asserting that what cannot be explained by fraud, delusion, or subconscious memory is simply due to the ‘will to believe.’ But surely such agnostics might remember the ancient proverb: ‘He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him’.”
– Sir William Barrett (British physicist and inventor)

Exile and Return: “To sum up: we have enough trustworthy evidence to anticipate our survival of the change called death.  If our conception of the Self as a hierarchy is true in broad outline – as I believe it is – we have enough to anticipate a great deal more. For myself, birth and death seem to be respectively the great Exile and the great Returning Home.”
– Raynor C. Johnson, Ph.D. D.Sc. (“The Imprisoned Splendor”)

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.



“Thank you for these, Mike.

When my husband died suddenly last April, it was crucial that I was able to communicate with him, especially since he was very worried about how I was going to manage without him, and that caused him a lot of upset and anything but a peaceful passing. You’re one of the people who helped me learn about various facets of after-death communication, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that and your continued work.  You helped put me in touch with others who have been central to this journey, too.

Sadly, Bob didn’t get to live on the planet and continue his creative work here as long as you have, but I’m certain he is still at it in the other world.

I still consider myself a very small medium, but at least it’s something… something precious, which I’m still trying to develop.”

I hope this works.  At any rate, it should get through to Michael himself, which is the important thing.

Thanks again, Mike.


Elene Gusch

Elene Gusch, Wed 17 Jan, 22:00

Michael, thanks for this list of supposedly erudite insightfulness coming from numerous contributors whose names I’m already familiar with. Personally I find in many cases their use of language is so obtuse that it hides the significance and meaning of what they are trying to say. And this reduces the usefulness of this list of quotations; not that this is your fault, as its editor. More importantly, I know the name of somebody who would be very capable of making a good, perfectly straightforward, valuable and understandable point about this issue but whose name and quotation is currently absent from the list. His name is Michael Tymn.

Keith P in England, Wed 3 Jan, 10:43

Amos, look forward to reading your book.  Let us know when published.  Patience is one of my favorite people (or soul groups).

Michael Tymn, Mon 1 Jan, 22:11

Thanks for the link to the audio podcast about Pearl Curran and Patience Worth.  I used to be critical of articles and books like this about Pearl and Patience but now I welcome anything about them the keeps them on the public table for dissection.  I must admit that I had a few bouts of esophageal reflux when I heard some of the misinformation about the case in that podcast.

I am about to finish a book about Pearl Curran tentatively titled “Reluctant Medium” In which I have 12 chapters including “Pearl Speaks”, Emily Writes” and Patience Lives”.  I also have one titled “Everybody Has One”  (Opinions are like assholes, everybody Has One.) in which I comment about the opinions of Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor Stephen Braude, Professor James Hyslop, Joe Nickell, Joseph Jastrow, Professor Daniel Shea, and Mia Grandolfi-Wall, all of whom apparently do not accept a source of the writing of Patience Worth to be other than the subconscious mind of Pearl Curran. Unfortunately, their erudite opinions are often cited by people who know very little about the case and they repeat these opinions as facts over and over again in the articles about Patience Worth and Pearl Curran.

I document additional information regarding the family of William Worth in New Jersey in the later 1600s who had a daughter named Patience Worth and a granddaughter named Patience Worth.  There were also several Patience Worths in England but unfortunately none of these Patience Worths are likely to be Curran’s Patience Worth.  And the ‘House of Worth” was located in Devonshire England which is a more likely source of Patience Worth’s family than Dorsetshire which was deduced by Casper Yost from hints given by Patience Worth. (Professor Braude writes that there is no evidence that anyone named Patience Worth ever lived!)

There have been accusations that the language of Patience Worth was based on the dialect of the hillfolk in the Ozark mountains.  I was fortunate to find a book “Down in the Holler” by Vance Randolph and George Wilson which provides a multitude of Ozark speech with which I could compare the default speech of Patience Worth.  I could not find one word in the Ozark dialect that Patience Worth used. And there was no word of Patience Worth included in the word listing at the end of Randolph’s book, when it should have been more likely that some of the words of Patience Worth would have been found in the Ozark speech as supposedly they were both derived from the same source of archaic English used by the English colonists.

My intent with the book is not to regurgitate what has already been written about the case.  Dr. Walter Franklin Prince and Irving Litvag have already done a good job providing detailed accounts of the case.  My hope is that I could tease people to look into what is available and to stimulate their own thoughts about the case rather than blindly accept the opinions of other people, including mine.  -AOD

(PS.  I have to thank Michael Tymn for nudging me in the direction of a ‘group soul’ as the source of the Patience Worth material.  Although I have a different slant on the idea, I thank him for helping me to expand my view of this case.)

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 1 Jan, 18:24

DuckDuckGo still works for me. (That is until the pseudo-skeptic Wiki guerillas discover that I am using it.) - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 1 Jan, 15:49

The comments are still proving problematical with Google browsers and others. If you email me your comment at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I “might” be able to post it. I appreciate it’s not ideal. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Happy New Year!

Jon, Mon 1 Jan, 11:16

I have tried various browsers. I redoubled my efforts to let you know about a podcast Pearl Curran and the Mysterious Story of Patience Worth. it was on The Big Seance 18/11/2023.
This podcast was rated number 1 by Higgypop
I also know Patrick very well.

Bruce, Mon 1 Jan, 11:09

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