David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In James Fieser & Bradley Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011)
Immortality is the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death. In common parlance, immortality is virtually indistinguishable from afterlife, but philosophically speaking, they are not identical. Afterlife is the continuation of existence after death, regardless of whether or not that continuation is indefinite. Immortality implies a never-ending existence, regardless of whether or not the body dies (as a matter of fact, some hypothetical medical technologies offer the prospect of a bodily immortality, but not an afterlife). Immortality has been one of mankind’s major concerns, and even though it has been traditionally mainly confined to religious traditions, it is also important to philosophy. Although a wide variety of cultures have believed in some sort of immortality, such beliefs may be reduced to basically three non-exclusive models: (1) the survival of the astral body resembling the physical body; (2) the immortality of the immaterial soul (that is an incorporeal existence); (3) resurrection of the body (or re-embodiment, in case the resurrected person does not keep the same body as at the moment of death). This article examines philosophical arguments for and against the prospect of immortality. A substantial part of the discussion on immortality touches upon the fundamental question in the philosophy of mind: do souls exist? Dualists believe souls do exist and survive the death of the body; materialists believe mental activity is nothing but cerebral activity and thus death brings the total end of a person’s existence. However, some immortalists believe that, even if immortal souls do not exist, immortality may still be achieved through resurrection. Discussions on immortality are also intimately related to discussions of personal identity because any account of immortality must address how the dead person could be identical to the original person that once lived. Traditionally, philosophers have considered three main criteria for personal identity: the soul criterion , the body criterion and the psychological criterion. Although empirical science has little to offer here, the field of parapsychology has attempted to offer empirical evidence in favor of an afterlife. More recently, secular futurists envision technologies that may suspend death indefinitely (such as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, and mind uploading), thus offering a prospect for a sort of bodily immortality.
|Keywords||immortality afterlife personal identity death|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Joanna K. Forstrom (2010). John Locke and Personal Identity: Immortality and Bodily Resurrection in 17th-Century Philosophy. Continuum.
Shelly Kagan (2012). Death. Yale University Press.
John Leslie (2007). Immortality Defended. Blackwell Pub..
Tamara Monet Marks (2010). Kierkegaard's "New Argument" for Immortality. Journal of Religious Ethics 38 (1):143-186.
L. Nathan Oaklander (2001). Personal Identity, Immortality, and the Soul. Philo 4 (2):185-194.
Michael W. Hickson (2011). The Moral Certainty of Immortality in Descartes. History of Philosophy Quarterly 28 (3):227-247.
K. Mitch Hodge (2011). Why Immortality Alone Will Not Get Me to the Afterlife. Philosophical Psychology 24 (3):395-410.
Aaron Smuts (2008). Wings of Desire: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality. Film and Philosophy 13 (1):137-151.
Edwin M. Curley (2001). The Immortality of the Soul in Descartes and Spinoza. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 75 (27-41):27-41.
Roy W. Perrett (1987). Death and Immortality. Distributors for the U.S. And Canada, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Douglas C. Long (1977). Disembodied Existence, Physicalism, and the Mind-Body Problem. Philosophical Studies 31 (May):307-316.
K. Mitch Hodge (2011). Why Immortality Alone Will Not Get Me to the Afterlife. Philosophical Psychology 24 (3):395 - 410.
Added to index2012-02-15
Total downloads26 ( #148,109 of 1,796,251 )
Recent downloads (6 months)8 ( #98,118 of 1,796,251 )
How can I increase my downloads?