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Thread: What's the origin of the phrase "everyone dies alone"?

  1. #1
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    I've seen the phrase in a lot of different places.

    The earliest I can find is Blaise Pascal in his 1670 Pensees.

    We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men. Wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, etc.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.
    http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl3...ml#SECTION%20I

    In Romans 14:7 we find a related but seemingly opposing statement:

    For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
    But it's probably not really the source of the quotation.

    Does anybody have any information or guesses?

    Forgot to add: I'm also interested to hear people's thoughts about what it means. It's not clear to me.

    It could mean that everyone dies without company. But that's obviously not true: Sometimes more than one person dies simultaneously, and sometimes dying people are surrounded by loved ones.

    It could also mean that the experience of a given person's death can only be had by that one person (though everyone else is guaranteed a similar experience, only Alfred can experience Alfred's death). But that seems irrelevant because that's true of every experience a given person has.

    Maybe it means we all feel lonely when we die. But that can't be true either, because people often die suddenly without time to feel anything, and sometimes die happy or die in their sleep.

    Or do you think it means something else?

  2. #2
    Registered User zoolane's Avatar
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    I think mean true alway alone with your though,OK shared with others but really it yourself and mind, body at dies alone so the phrase 'everyone alone dies' is true to point because you die with or with out company round you, you dies alone eyes close or peace in your sleep never to wake alone so maybe this phrase made up from person who had no faith or believe in the afterlife.
    English my native language and have characterizes of dyslexia.

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    Registered User zoolane's Avatar
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    anyone bump?
    English my native language and have characterizes of dyslexia.

    Copyright (C) 2011, Zoolane

    I have pass by English Exam.

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    riding a cosmic vortex MystyrMystyry's Avatar
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    It matters not who said it first, nor how oft express'd, at the end of the day it belongs to he who says it best


    Matthew Arnold (much later than 1690):

    Yes! In the Sea of Life Enilsed, With Echoing Straits Between Us Thrown. Dotting the Shoreless Watery Wild, We Mortal Millions Live Alone!

    You might want to look it up...

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    Registered User zoolane's Avatar
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    I might want look it up or Jay?
    English my native language and have characterizes of dyslexia.

    Copyright (C) 2011, Zoolane

    I have pass by English Exam.

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    James A Froude, best known for his 'Life of Carlyle' is credited with the quote

    We enter the world alone, we leave the world alone.

    which in a way answers the question 'what does it mean?'

    While we may spend our entire lives in company, we take that first step alone (even if we shared the womb) and, of course, we also take that final one alone.

    H

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    BadWoolf JuniperWoolf's Avatar
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    You're usually the only one dying while the actual death is occuring so even though you might be surrounded by other people you're alone in the fact that you are the one who is about to die. Or, in the situations where there are many people around you dying (say a battlefield or a sick ward), imagine the actual process of death itself: first wooziness, then unconciousness after which it doesn't really matter to you if the pope himself is there because, being unconcious and on the verge of being dead, you are completely alone and oblivious. Then of course, there's the after part, which the more vocal side of litnet would argue is nothingness which I guess you could argue is "alone."
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    It may have been made up by the first person who had the idea to die, seeing he/she was dying, and that no one else around was dying as much as he/she was. Subsequently, the folks around the defunct listened to his/her grievous last words, and thought it was a good idea to quote them whenever they had the idea to die... and so forth, etc., etc.

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    Hi Jay Thank you for your post, I have wondered about this myself for years.. where it was from and what it means, finally I got around to looking in to it, and found your post and, if not original at least early, quote. I always wondered the same as you, however, reading that quote of your's and knowing the age of it, I believe now I understand what it means.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Kinetic View Post
    The earliest I can find is Blaise Pascal in his 1670 Pensees:

    We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men. Wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, etc.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.
    In early Christianity and even in Greek mythology, dying was not an instantaneous process. You didn't go immediately to heaven or hell nor hades, rather it was a journey to get there. Thus I believe "everyone dies alone" means that, although we might have company around us when we die, and while we might have people waiting for us in heaven or wherever, the journey there is one we must make alone. And when we face Saint Peter and God to be judged in this too we are alone. Our family, friends and loved ones can be no help, once we have left them behind with the living.

    Even soldiers who die in the same battle would have to make that journey each on their own and each face the judgement of their actions, alone.

    I have yet to discover whether this explanation extends to the modern day use of the expression. My gut feeling on this, however, is that in the modern day it is mostly used to drive some point home, because it sounds catchy. I doubt if any real meaning is attributed to the phrase in present times, seeing as often it seems people use it to argue opposite points.

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