Without your previous bias on the matter (bias formed through reading other Bible passages) There is no way you would arrive at the conclusions you have.
My previous bias on the matter, if any, was toward the JW interpretation of the verse. This is not a topic I have done a lot of studying on since I left the JW's. I do understand, however, that everything I was taught by that cult is open to question, and I accept nothing that they told me without some other verification. So when someone asked what the verse meant, I read it again, along with the surrounding verses. I noticed that if you take those verses as written, i.e. that the dead are totally unconscious, then you must also interpret the surrounding verses as being literal as written, also. Which would imply that there is no resurrection of the dead, ever. So, if we understand this verse to be speaking of the actual state of the dead, and not merely the appearance to us as humans, then we must conclude that there is only this life, and that the only rewards we can expect to receive from God are to be experienced in this life. Regardless of how you might interpret the rest of the book, that pretty much demolishes the JW interpretation of the verse, since you can't have one word or phrase in the verse be figurative, and the rest be literal. And that, of course, was the original question - are the JW's correct about this text?
Many say it like, "Bible interprets Bible", this is merely another way of saying superhuman judgement (Divine assistance)
So are you acknowledging the divine origin of the Bible? If not, wouldn't it be a case of man interpreting man?
Do you not feel that the "proper" understanding of this passage can only be had if you understand the rest of the Bible? Or said another way, Do you not feel that by reading this book without the rest of the Bible a person might draw a "wrong" conclusion? I'll say it again it should concern us that the Bible "requires" Divine assitance to understand it "properly".
Yes, I consider that the Bible as a whole is a revelation from God, and that to understand one part, we need to consider what other parts say on similar subjects. That's a bit different than saying that we 'require divine assistance to understand it properly'. While I believe that all of the Bible was inspired by God, I also realize that it was written by different men using different styles, in different circumstances at different times. The same concept may be addressed in many different ways and from many different viewpoints at various places in scripture. Most people would see this as an advantage, adding to the richness and flavor of scripture. It seems to me that you are trying to turn it into a disadvantage, and a reason for rejecting scripture.
Some parts of scripture are quite literal. The nails driven into Jesus' hands were, I'm certain, hard, cold and made of iron. Other parts are quite figurative: I won't be going down to the beach any time soon to see whether a beast with seven heads and ten horns wanders up onto the shore. The various parts complement and explain each other, and add meaning to scripture as a whole.
There is another aspect, too. In addition to being useful as scripture, many parts of the Bible are also great literature. Ecclesiastes certainly qualifies here, in my opinion. If you take the book alone, as literature, you may gain a certain amount of wisdom from it. But, if you take it as scripture, and ignore the rest of the Bible, you will have immediate problems. Because while the verses we are discussing in chapter 9 seem to indicate that the present life is all there is, chapter 7 tells us that the day of death is better than the day of birth, and chapter 12 speaks of the day when God will bring all things into judgment. There's no problem understanding any of this in the light of other scripture; taken alone, the picture is distorted. And that's appropriate, because God did not intend Ecclesaistes to be His only revelation to mankind.
I read this book as the spiritual musings of a man/men confused by the bitter realities he sees yet he contritely expresses conviction that a Divine plan is at work. This is the work of of a spiritual man seeking to understand spiritual things.
I'm inclined to agree with that assessment. I didn't mean to imply that the writer was not a spiritual man, only that he chose to write the book as one perceiving things from an earthly viewpoint. In other words, I don't think he was trying to say that the absolute condition of the dead was unconsciousness, only that that is the way it appears to us. Similarly, it appears to earthly man that the dead are gone forever, though the writer clearly understands spiritually that that is not the case.