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Old 27 April 2010, 08:44 AM
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Default Where did the phrase "everyone dies alone" originate?

The statement "everyone dies alone" appears in a lot of different places.

The song The Last Man on Earth by Loudon Wainright: http://www.actionext.com/names_l/lou..._on_earth.html "we learn to live together and then we die alone."

The book Eldest by Christopher Paolini: "Everyone dies alone, Eragon, whether you are a king on a battlefield or a lowly peasant lying in bed among your family, no one can accompany you into the void…"

And countless others.

Who said it first?

And what's it supposed to mean? Obviously people sometimes die in groups, so that probably isn't what's meant. And obviously the experience of John Smith dying can only be had by John Smith, but that's a general principle that's not specific to death.
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Old 27 April 2010, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaise Pascal
On mourra seul
Trans: "We shall die alone". It's from his Pensées, published 1670.

(Thanks to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.)
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Old 27 April 2010, 09:08 AM
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I just found that the phrase was apparently around in at least 1947, as the phrase "every man dies alone" is the title of a German novel written in that year. http://www.amazon.com/Every-Dies-Alo.../dp/1933633638

Edit: Spanked. Thanks, Richard W.
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Old 27 April 2010, 09:18 AM
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Here's the full quotation from Project Gutenberg:

Quote:
211 [Pg 62]

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.
I'm not sure if that makes the meaning of "we shall [all] die alone" any more clear. Is Pascal expressing the idea that everyone is necessarily self-reliant in the search for truth and in generally navigating his or her own life? If not that, what?
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Old 27 April 2010, 09:15 PM
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I would guess it goes back much further than Pascal.
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Old 28 April 2010, 03:11 AM
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An inversion (sort of) of the idea can be found in the Bible:

Quote:
Romans 14:7 (New International Version)

For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
This seems to speak more to the idea that we are all connected, and that each individual has impact on others, but it's related.
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