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Can Thought Outlive Body?

Writer’s Note: I had gotten this question as an assignment by our Philosophy Professor during my academic days and since he seemed to love my answer, I decided its about time I share it with the rest of the world 🙂 Please bear with me if you’re not a philosophical type of person and you came here to read about Internet Marketing. Like I’ve said, its a personal blog so I’m free to write anything I want 😉


Human being comes into this world, lives his life; eats, drinks, nurtures wild ideas and desires in his mind. And then one day, he dies. In other words, he comes from non-existence to the existence and then again returns back to non-existence. His soul leaves him, his body perishes, his heart, his lungs, his mind –and so, his thoughts too. Or do they?

Do thoughts of a man also die with the death of the man himself? Do they also expire with the conversion of body into soil inside the grave?

My answer is in negation.


Thoughts are ideas, notions, views and reflections about a particular matter. They reflect the personality of their owner. They tell us something about that person. Yes, it might be possible that when his body perishes, his thoughts also come to an end. But not so in every case.

There are several ways in which a person’s thoughts can be transferred or better yet, conveyed to the world even after his death. It is possible that he may have left behind any means to pass on his thoughts: he might have written down his thoughts, or communicated his thoughts verbally to someone else in his lifetime.

To support my view, I would give an example of the greatest philosophers of the times. Socrates died but passed on his ideas and thoughts to his student Plato, who in turn, passed them to Aristotle and lastly, from Aristotle to Alexander the Great. Similarly, there are thousands of other philosophers whose philosophies are still studied and taught even today.

Sometimes, it so happens that a person strives for a goal but death comes in the way. However, the struggle for that goal is continued by his successors or people close to him. For example, someone dies having a dream of opening a school in his heart. That dream might be implemented by someone else in the love of the departed one. Hence, his thoughts live on.

Many inventions and discoveries were made in this way. Their creators died but their successors carried on in order to achieve what could not have been achieved by the true creator of that thought.

Looking at the example of poets and writers, we see that they express their feelings in the most exquisite way. Their poetries or literature are published, republished and retold decades after decades.  After hundreds of years, nobody knows how a particular poet looked like or who he was but they certainly will be able to tell how he thought and what his views were by reading his poetry or a written piece of article.

The concepts and ideas of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam live on in the shape of Pakistan. Their bodies have become soil; however, what came out of their mortal minds throbs and beats in form a great country.

globe in eye

However, I find it vital to point out that this process of transferring thoughts largely depends on the kind of owner they have. There are certain internal and external conditions and requirements: i) Thoughts can outlive body only when a person chooses to express them to the world ii) they can live on only if the living ones consider those thoughts worthy enough to notice and pass on iii) if thoughts are meaningful and expressive and they mean something to the living ones.

Once a thought has passed all these requirements; it has succeeded in outliving the body. That being said, we also know from experience that everything in this world is immortal. Hence, death may come even to those thoughts who had managed to escape the body once. For example, education authorities could decide that Socrates’ ideas are useless and rule them out of the syllabus; scientists could falsify a certain theory of a scientist or a war between India and Pakistan would result in wiping off Pakistan from the face of the earth. In either case, it would mean the end of thought and its return to the body.

And here, I rest my case.

What are your views? Do you also believe thought can outlive body?


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  1. Salams Asma,

    First off, I didn’t know there is an Aristotle in you! 😉
    A very through provoking article this is. And I am totally second to your thoughts too.

    Thoughts can outlive body. They are not even dependent on tangible things. Thought is something which remains even hundreds and thousands of years.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 11 months ago

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