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XVI
THE SURVIVAL WITHOUT CONSCIOUSNESS

THERE remains but the survival without consciousness, or survival with a consciousness different from that of to-day.

A survival without consciousness seems at first sight the most probable. From the point of view of the good or ill awaiting us on the other side of the grave, it amounts to annihilation. It is lawful, therefore, for those who prefer the easiest solution and that most consistent with the present state of human thought, to set that limit to their anxiety there. They have nothing to dread; for every fear, if any remain, would, if we look into it carefully, deck itself with hopes. The body disintegrates and can no longer suffer; the mind, separated from the source of pleasure and pain, is extinguished, scattered and lost in a boundless darkness; and what comes is the great peace so often prayed for, the sleep without measure, without dreams and without awakening.

But this is only a solution that flatters indolence. If we press those who speak of a survival without consciousness, we perceive that they mean only their present consciousness, for man conceives no other; and we have just seen that it is almost impossible for that manner of consciousness to persist in infinity.

Unless, indeed, they would deny every sort of consciousness, even that of the universe into which their own will fall. But that means solving very quickly and very blindly, with a stroke of the sword in the night, the greatest and most mysterious question that can arise in a man's brain.


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