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PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on Life after Death.

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Presentation on theme: "PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on Life after Death."— Presentation transcript:

1 PHILOSOPHY 100 (Ted Stolze) Notes on Life after Death

2 Possible Theories of Life after Death Immortal Personal Soul (Socrates/Plato:; Bhagavad Gita: Emergent Materialist Self (Epicurus:; Christoph Koch: Bodily Resurrection (Paul of Tarsus: n=NIV; N.T. Wright: n=NIV Quantum Entanglement (Vedanta:; Stuart Hameroff: Soul Fragment (The Buddha:; Thich Nhat Hanh:, Stephen and Martine Batchelor:; Douglas Hofstadter:

3 Socrates’ Argument (in the Phaedo) for an Immortal Soul 1.Destroying something means breaking it down into its component parts. 2.But the soul is simple and has no component parts. 3.Therefore, the soul can neither be broken down nor destroyed.

4 Objections to Socrates Why think we have a soul? Why think that the soul is simple? Even if we have a soul, as Socrates’ friend Cebes suggests, just like at the end of a musical performance, the soul could vanish without coming apart.

5 Epicurus on Death “Grow accustomed to the belief that death is nothing to us, since every good and evil lie in sensation. However, death is the deprivation of sensation. Therefore, correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes a mortal life enjoyable, not by adding an endless span of time but by taking away the longing for immortality. For there is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living. Therefore, foolish is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will cause pain when it arrives but because anticipation of it is painful. What is no trouble when it arrives is an idle worry in anticipation. Death, therefore—the most dreadful of evils—is nothing to us, since while we exist, death is not present, and whenever death is present, we do not exist. It is nothing either to the living or the dead, since it does not exist for the living, and the dead no longer are.” (From Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus,” in The Essential Epicurus, translated by Eugene O’Connor [Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1993.)

6 Epicurus’s Argument 1.Something can be bad for you only if you exist. 2.When you are dead, you don’t exist. 3.Therefore, death can’t be bad for you.

7 Lucretius on Death “Look back upon the ages of time past Eternal, before we were born, and see That they have been nothing to us, nothing at all. This is the mirror nature holds for us To show the face of time to come, when we At last are dead. Is there in this for us Anything horrible? Is there anything sad? Is it not more free from care than any sleep?” (From Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe, translated by Ronald Melville [New York: Oxford, 1997, Book III, lines 972-977)

8 Lucretius’s Argument 1.My situation before birth was a kind of nonexistence. 2.My situation after death will also be a kind of nonexistence. 3.Similar situations warrant similar attitudes. 4.Therefore, my situations before birth and after death warrant similar attitudes. 5.My situation before birth does not warrant fear. 6.Therefore, my situation after death does not warrant fear.

9 Possible Objections to Lucretius My situation after death is quite different than it is before being born; in only the former case am I really deprived of something—like having had your car stolen (as opposed to not yet owning it). Fear is future-directed; I cannot fear something after it has occurred—you can be afraid of failing a exam next week but not of having already failed an exam last week. We should fear both our situation before being born and after we have died.

10 Immortality vs. Resurrection NOTE: immortality doesn’t require that God created souls in the first place. Souls by their very nature are immortal: they preexist and will survive the body’s death. By contrast, resurrection is the belief that physical bodies are created by God and are corruptible. After a person’s death God will at some time in the future recreate his or her body in a spiritual, incorruptible form (see the apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15). In the historical context of the first-century Greco-Roman world, Paul was likely arguing against something like the Socratic/Platonic position that the soul is separable from, and superior to, the body. Such a view had evidently given rise to a “spiritual elitism” among certain leading members of the Christian community in Corinth; Paul criticized such elitism in the name of the egalitarian ideals of solidarity and love.

11 General Observations about Paul’s View of Resurrection Jesus’ resurrection is an experiential reality for those who follow him. Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” of the general resurrection. The general resurrection has not yet happened but is going to occur in the near future. The resurrected body is not “physical” but “spiritual.” Resurrection is less a description about what will happen than an imperative to live in the world differently—it is as much about “life before death” as it is about “life after death.”

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