This article presents arguments and evidence that run counter to the widespread assumption among scholars that humans are intuitive Cartesian substance dualists. With regard to afterlife beliefs, the hypothesis of Cartesian substance dualism as the intuitive folk position fails to have the explanatory power with which its proponents endow it. It is argued that the embedded corollary assumptions of the intuitive Cartesian substance dualist position (that the mind and body are different substances, that the mind and soul are intensionally (...) identical, and that the mind is the sole source of identity) are not compatible with cultural representations such as mythologies, funerary rites, iconography and doctrine as well as empirical evidence concerning intuitive folk reasoning about the mind and body concerning the afterlife. Finally, the article
suggests an alternative and more parsimonious explanation for understanding intuitive folk representations of the afterlife. (shrink)
Human beings, like all other organic creatures, die and their bodies decay. Nevertheless, there is a widespread and long-standing belief that in some way death is survivable, that there is “life after death.” The focus in this article is on the possibility that the individual who dies will somehow continue to live, or will resume life at a later time, and not on the specific forms such an afterlife might take. We begin by considering the logical possibility of survival, (...) given different metaphysical views concerning the nature of the mind/soul, and then move on to consider possible arguments for and against the belief in survival. (shrink)
The author argues for three interconnected theses which provide a cognitive account for why humans intuitively believe that others survive death. The first thesis, from which the second and third theses follow, is that the acceptance of afterlife beliefs is predisposed by a specific, and already well-documented, imaginative process - the offline social reasoning process. The second thesis is that afterlife beliefs are social in nature. The third thesis is that the living imagine the deceased as socially embodied (...) in such a way as to continue to fulfill on-going social obligations with others. The author further suggests six reasons why the fantasy/reality distinction breaks down for the imaginer such that the continued existence of the decedent in the afterlife is believed to be real. Finally, the author suggests avenues for further research which would support this cognitive account. (shrink)
Recent research in the cognitive science of religion suggests that humans intuitively believe that others survive death. In response to this finding, three cognitive theories have been offered to explain this: the simulation constraint theory (Bering, 2002); the imaginative obstacle theory (Nichols, 2007); and terror management theory (Pyszczynski, Rothschild, & Abdollahi, 2008). First, I provide a critical analysis of each of these theories. Second, I argue that these theories, while perhaps explaining why one would believe in his own personal immortality, (...) leave an explanatory gap in that they do not explain why one would intuitively attribute survival of death to others. To fill in the gap, I offer a cognitive theory based on offline social reasoning and social embodiment which provides for the belief in an eternal social realm in which the deceased survive—the afterlife. (shrink)
Adults have been shown to attribute certain properties more frequently than others to the dead. This category-specific pattern has been interpreted in terms of simulation constraints, whereby it may be harder to imagine the absence of some states than others. Afterlife beliefs have also shown context-sensitivity, suggesting that environmental exposure to different types of information might influence adults? reasoning about post-death states. We sought to clarify category and context effects in adults afterlife reasoning. Participants read a story describing (...) the death of a human protagonist after exposure to a biological prime, an emotional prime, or no prime. Emotions, desires, and epistemic states were more frequently attributed to the dead character than biological, psychobiological, and perceptual states, partially replicating previous findings. The biological prime decreased the attribution of certain post-death states relative to the control condition, whereas the emotional prime had no effect. Simulation theory does not provide a satisfactory explanation of the present findings, which may be better accounted for by conflict between different cognitive systems that are engaged in thinking about the dead. (shrink)
Some commentators argue that conception constitutes the onset of human personhood in a metaphysical sense. This threshold is usually invoked as the basis both for protecting zygotes and embryos from exposure to risks of death in clinical research and fertility medicine and for objecting to abortion, but it also has consequences for certain religious perspectives, including Catholicism whose doctrines directly engage questions of personhood and its meanings. Since more human zygotes and embryos are lost than survive to birth, conferral of (...) personhood on them would mean – for those believing in personal immortality – that these persons constitute the majority of people living immortally despite having had only the shortest of earthly lives. For those believing in resurrection, zygotes and embryos would also be restored to physical lives. These outcomes do not mean that conception cannot function as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, but this interpretation carries costs that others do not. For example, treating conception as a moral threshold of respect for human life in general, rather than as a metaphysical threshold of personhood, would obviate the prospect of the afterlife being populated in the main by persons who have never lived more than a few hours or days. (shrink)
Several prominent philosophers, including A.J. Ayer and Derek Parfit, have offered the evidentiary requirements for believing human personality can reincarnate, and hence that Cartesian dualism is true. At least one philosopher, Robert Almeder, has argued that there are actual cases which satisfy these requirements. I argue in this paper that even if we grant the empirical data-a large concession-belief in reincarnation is still unjustified. The problem is that without a theoretical account of the alleged cases of reincarnation, the empirical evidence (...) alone does not license giving up materialist theories of the mind. (shrink)
Simulation constraints cannot help in explaining afterlife beliefs in general because belief in an afterlife is a precondition for running a simulation. Instead, an explanation may be found by examining more deeply our common-sense dualistic conception of the mind or soul.
Bering contends that belief in the afterlife is explained by the simulation constraint hypothesis: the claim that we cannot imagine what it is like to be dead. This explanation suffers from some difficulties. First, it implies the existence of a corresponding belief in the “beforelife.” Second, a simpler explanation will suffice. Rather than appeal to constraints on our thoughts about death, we suggest that belief in the afterlife can be better explained by the lack of such constraints.
Bering's target article proposes that the tendency to believe in an afterlife emerged (in evolutionary history) in response to selective pressures unique to human societies. However, the empirical evidence presented fails to account for the broader social context that impinges upon researcher–participant interactions, and so fails to displace the more parsimonious explanation that it is childhood credulity that underlies the acquisition of afterlife beliefs through cultural exposure.
Most people believe in an afterlife, but is such a belief warranted? While Newman did not specifically treat the doctrine of afterlife, his Grammar of Assent furnishes a trajectory that shows that Christians can believe in this doctrine with a warranted assent, precisely because the Church is a warranted belief.
The words quoted above distill the common secular conception of death. If we decline the traditional religious reassurances of an afterlife, or their fuzzy new age equivalents, and instead take the hard-boiled and thoroughly modern materialist view of death, then we likely end up with Gonzalez-Cruzzi. Rejecting visions of reunions with loved ones or of crossing over into the light, we anticipate the opposite: darkness, silence, an engulfing emptiness. But we would be wrong.
Kevin Corcoran offers an account of how one can be a physicalist about human persons, deny temporal gaps in the existence of persons, and hold that there is an afterlife. I argue that Corcoran's account both violates the necessity of metaphysical identity and implausibly makes an individual's existence dependent on factors wholly extrinsic to the individual. Corcoran's defence is considered, as well as Stephen Davis's suggestions on how an account like Corcoran's can defend itself against these concerns. It is (...) shown, however, that the difficulties remain in full force and, therefore, that Corcoran's account fails to reconcile physicalism, no gappy existence, and an afterlife. (shrink)
The present article examines how people’s belief in an afterlife, as well as closely related supernatural beliefs, may open an empirical backdoor to our understanding of the evolution of human social cognition. Recent ﬁndings and logic from the cognitive sciences contribute to a novel theory of existential psychology, one that is grounded in the tenets of Darwinian natural selection. Many of the predominant questions of existential psychology strike at the heart of cognitive science. They involve: causal attribution (why is (...) mortal behavior represented as being causally related to one’s afterlife? how are dead agents envisaged as communicating messages to the living?), moral judgment (why are certain social behaviors, i.e., transgressions, believed to have ultimate repercussions after death or to reap the punishment of disgruntled ancestors?), theory of mind (how can we know what it is “like” to be dead? what social-cognitive strategies do people use to reason about the minds of the dead?), concept acquisition (how does a common-sense dualism interact with a formalized socio-religious indoctrination in childhood? how are supernatural properties of the dead conceptualized by young minds?), and teleological reasoning (why do people so often see their lives as being designed for a purpose that must be accomplished before they perish? how do various life events affect people’s interpretation of this purpose?), among others. The central thesis of the present article is that an organized cognitive “system” dedicated to forming illusory representations of (1) psychological immortality, (2) the intelligent design of the self, and (3) the symbolic meaning of natural events evolved in response to the unique selective pressures of the human social environment. (shrink)
D’Souza claims that near-death experiences (NDE) suggest that consciousness can outlive the breakdown of the body and cannot be explained as the product of dying brains. These experiences can be found in situations where a subject is not near death and have all the characteristics of hallucinations caused by oxygen deprivation. Despite thousands of cases, no one has every come back from an NDE with information that could not have been in their heads originally.
Theodor Adorno's concept of 'natural history' [Naturgeschichte] was central for a number of Adorno's theoretical projects, but remains elusive. In this essay, I analyse different dimensions of the concept of natural history, distinguishing amongst (a) a reflection on the normative and methodological bases of philosophical anthropology and critical social science; (b) a conception of critical memory oriented toward the preservation of the memory of historical suffering; and (c) the notion of 'mindfulness of nature in the subject' provocatively asserted in Max (...) Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. These strands are united by the notion of transience and goal of developing a critical theory sensitive to the transient in history. The essay concludes by suggesting some implications of an expanded concept of natural history for issues in the discourse theory of Jürgen Habermas. (shrink)
Bering argues that belief in posthumous intentional agency may confer added fitness via the inhibition of opportunistic behavior. This is true only if these agents are interested parties in our moral choices, a feature which does not result from Bering's imaginative constraint hypothesis and extends to supernatural agents other than dead people's souls. A by-product model might handle this better.
An inquiry into the possibility that life?after?death be understood as waking from a shared dream into the real world. Attempts to outlaw the possibility that ?really? we are, e.g., vat?brains are shown to lead to unwelcome, anti?realist conclusions about either the world or consciousness. The unsatisfactory nature of empirically observable (Humean) causal connections suggests that real causes may be found beyond the world of our present experience. Though such a story cannot now be proved to be true, we are entitled (...) to entertain it as a serious possibility. An attempt is made to say what life is like in the ?Real World?, whether this be a spatial world like our present one or not, and what moral it holds for our present life. I suggest (like Plato) that there are many levels of waking, and that our ?Real Self should not be identified simply with our present egos. (shrink)
Ample evidence for dualism in early childhood already exists. Young children have explicit knowledge of the distinction between mental and physical phenomena, which provides the foundation for a rapidly developing theory of mind. Belief in psychological immortality might then follow naturally from this mentalistic conception of human existence and thus require no organized cognitive system dedicated to producing it.
We agree that supernatural beliefs are pervasive. However, we propose a more general account rooted in how people trace ordinary objects over time. Tracking identity involves attending to the causal history of an object, a process that may implicate hidden mechanisms. We discuss experiments in which participants exhibit the same “supernatural” beliefs when reasoning about the fates of cups and automobiles as those exhibited by Bering's participants when reasoning about spirits.
This article describes a logic of distinction and succession within the late-twentieth-century Leningrad-St. Petersburg cultural field, whereby consecutive intelligentsia mainstreams were replaced by their avant-garde peripheries. In this dynamic picture of socio-cultural transformations, I propose a working hypothesis of a repeated stratification of the field into an ‘official’, an ‘unofficial’, and a third ‘non-aligned’ intelligentsia. This hypothesis is tested in reference to the ‘non-aligned’ groups founded by the avant-garde artist and ideologue Timur Novikov (1958–2002). Three major shifts are described: from (...) the politicized late-Brezhnevite early 1980s to the apolitical radicalism of Novikov’s New Artists; from this anarchistic underground, through the perestroika era, to the playful ‘classicism’ of the New Academy of Fine Arts in the 1990s; and from this postmodern international orientation to an arch-reactionary, neo-imperial posturing at the turn of the 2000s. Lastly, this ‘non-aligned’ intelligentsia is suggested as a possible precedent, or, indeed, a model for understanding other historically significant avant-garde peripheries, which commonly seek to distinguish themselves from (often mutually-exclusive) centres. (shrink)
The Hebrew Bible: glimpses of immortality -- Early post-biblical literature: gateways to heaven and hell -- The mishnah: who will merit the world to come? -- The Talmud: what happens in the next world? -- Medieval Jewish philosophy: faith and reason -- Mysticism: reincarnation in Kabbalah -- Modernity: what do we believe? -- The Messiah: the eternal thread of hope.
Recent research (Bering 2002, 2006) into what has become known as “the folk psychology of souls” demonstrates that humans intuitively believe that others survive death. Additional research (Harris & Gimenéz, 2005; Astuti & Harris, 2008) has demonstrated that this belief is highly context sensitive. In this thesis, the author presents this research and provides a critical analysis of the findings based on philosophical and empirical concerns. The author also presents and critically analyses several theories that have been proposed to explain (...) this intuitive belief: intuitive Cartesian substance dualism (Bloom, 2004); the simulation constraint theory (Bering, 2006); the imaginative obstacle theory (Nichols, 2007); and terror management theory (Pyszczynski, Rothschild, & Abdollahi, 2008; Vail III, et al., 2010). The author argues, based on philosophical concerns, and anthropological and psychological empirical evidence, that none of the proposed theories are up to the task of giving a cognitive account of the folk psychology of souls. The author then argues for three interconnected theses to provide a cognitive account for why humans intuitively believe that others survive death. The first thesis, from which the second and third theses follow, is that the acceptance of afterlife beliefs is predisposed by a specific, and already well-documented, imaginative process—the offline social reasoning process. The second thesis is that afterlife beliefs are social in nature. The third thesis is that the living imagine the deceased as socially embodied in such a way as to continue to fulfill on-going social obligations with others. The author further suggests six reasons why the fantasy/reality distinction breaks down for the imaginer such that the continued existence of the decedent in the afterlife is believed to be real. Finally, the author suggests avenues for further research that would support this cognitive account. (shrink)
Many people still believe in life after death, but modern institutions operate as though this were the only world - eternity is now eclipsed from view in society and even in the church. This book carefully observes the eclipse - what caused it, how full is it, what are its consequences, will it last? How significant is recent interest in near-death experiences and reincarnation?
Fathers do not have an absolute obligation to provide for the welfare of their children. If mothers have the right to opt out of future duties towards their children by deciding to have an abortion instead, fathers too should be considered to have the right to avoid similar future duties. I also argue that fathers should be granted a mechanism by which they can exercise such a right. The discussion is initially motivated by showing an apparent inconsistency among three widely (...) accepted principles regarding a woman's right to an abortion, equality, and parental obligations. I argue that by allowing fathers (with certain restrictions) to refuse to support their forthcoming progeny, the inconsistency among the three principles is resolved. I also argue that this is the best resolution, and provide three other independent arguments in favor of a paternal right of refusal. (shrink)
Over the centuries, the idea of the self has both fascinated and confounded philosophers. From the ancient Greeks, who problematized issues of identity and self-awareness, to Locke and Hume, who popularized minimalist views of the self, to the efforts of postmodernists in our time to decenter the human subject altogether, the idea that there is something called a self has always been in steady decline. But for Richard Sorabji, one of our most celebrated living intellectuals, this negation of the self (...) is dispiriting. In Self , he sets out to recover the rich variety of positive accounts of the self from Antiquity right up to the present, while offering his own inspiring view of what precisely the self might be. Drawing on Eastern religion, classical antiquity, and Western philosophy, Sorabji proceeds to tackle a number of thematic debates that have preoccupied philosophers over the ages, including the concept of the self, its sameness and mutability, the idea of the resurrection of the body and spirit, and the fear of death. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. It is also neither a linguistic creation nor a psychological fiction, but something that owns both a consciousness and a body. Ultimately, Sorabji argues, the demise of a positive idea of the self stems from much older and more pervasive problems of identity than we realize. Through an astute reading of this tradition, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come. (shrink)
Locke’s account of personal identity has been highly influential because of its emphasis on a psychological criterion. The same consciousness is required for being the same person. It is not so clear, however, exactly what Locke meant by ‘consciousness’ or by ‘having the same consciousness’. Interpretations vary: consciousness is seen as identical to memory, as identical to a first personal appropriation of mental states, and as identical to a first personal distinctive experience of the qualitative features of one’s own thinking. (...) There is wide agreement, however, that Locke’s theory of personal identity is meant to complement his moral and theological commitments to a system of divine punishment and reward in an afterlife. But these commitments seem to require also a metaphysical criterion, and Locke is insistent that it cannot be substance. The difficulty reconciling the psychological and metaphysical requirements of the theory has led, at worst, to charges of incoherence and, at best, to a slew of interpretations, none of which is widely accepted. (shrink)
What makes a person's life meaningful? Thaddeus Metz offers a new answer to an ancient question which has recently returned to the philosophical agenda. He proceeds by examining what, if anything, all the conditions that make a life meaningful have in common. The outcome of this process is a philosophical theory of meaning in life. He starts by evaluating existing theories in terms of the classic triad of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He considers whether meaning in life (...) might be about such principles as fulfilling God's purpose, obtaining reward in an afterlife for having been virtuous, being attracted to what merits attraction, leaving the world a better place, connecting to organic unity, or transcending oneself by connecting to what is extensive. He argues that no extant principle satisfactorily accounts for the three-fold significance of morality, enquiry, and creativity, and that the most promising theory is a fresh one according to which meaning in life is a matter of intelligence contoured toward fundamental conditions of human existence. (shrink)
Theories of the human person differ greatly in their ability to underwrite a metaphysics of resurrection. This paper compares and contrasts a number of such views in light of the Christian doctrine of resurrection. In a Christian framework, resurrection requires that the same person who exists on earth also exists in an afterlife, that a postmortem person be embodied, and that the existence of a postmortem person is brought about by a miracle. According to my view of persons (the (...) Constitution View), a human person is constituted by—but not identical to—a human organism. A person has a first-person perspective essentially, and an organism has interrelated biological functions essentially. I shall argue for the superiority the Constitution View as a metaphysical basis for resurrection. (shrink)
A certain conception of Hell is inconsistent with God’s traditional attributes, or so I will argue. My argument is novel in focusing on considerations involving vagueness. The target doctrine of Hell is part of a “binary” conception of the afterlife, by which I mean one with the properties of dichotomy, badness, non-universality, and divine control. Dichotomy: there are exactly two states in the afterlife, Heaven and Hell. After death each person will come to be, determinately, in exactly one (...) of these states. (The doctrine of Purgatory does not violate dichotomy provided everyone in Purgatory eventually ends up in Heaven.) My argument does not apply to a continuous conception of the afterlife, which to my mind is more defensible than the usual binary doctrine. Badness: Hell is very, very bad. Or at least, Hell is much worse than Heaven; for most of the argument this weaker premise will suf ce. More carefully, the premise is that everyone in Heaven is much, much better off than everyone in Hell. Non-universality: some people go to Heaven, and some people go to Hell. I have no objection to Universalists, according to whom everyone goes to Heaven. Nor does my argument apply to those who uphold universal damnation. Divine control: God is in control of the institution of divine judgment, in control of the mechanism or criterion that determines who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. This is not to say that God is solely responsible for the fate of created beings, for the divinely mandated criterion might contain a role for free choices. Nor is it to say that God is vindictive. The requirement makes no assumptions about the nature of the criterion, beyond that it is in God’s control. The argument proceeds as follows. Given dichotomy, the only possibilities in the afterlife are determinate membership in either Heaven or Hell; given badness, the second is far worse the rst; and given non-universality, each is populated. Divine control requires that God be in control of the criterion determining these populations, and thus that God’s choice of a criterion be consistent with his attributes. (shrink)
Scholars have long debated the relationship between Kant’s doctrine of right and his doctrine of virtue (including his moral religion or ethico-theology), which are the two branches of his moral philosophy. This article will examine the intimate connection in his practical philosophy between perpetual peace and the highest good, between political and ethico-religious communities, and between the types of transparency peculiar to each. It will show how domestic and international right provides a framework for the development of ethical communities, including (...) a kingdom of ends and even the noumenal ethical community of an afterlife, and how the transparency and trust achieved in these communities is anticipated in rightful political society by publicity and the mutual confidence among citizens that it engenders. Finally, it will explore the implications of this synthesis of Kant’s political and religious philosophies for contemporary Kantian political theories, especially those of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. (shrink)
Might we be parts of a divine mind? Could anything like an afterlife make sense? Starting with a Platonic answer to why the world exists, Immortality Defended suggests we could well be immortal in all of three separate ways. Tackles the fundamental questions posed by our very existence, among them ‘why does the cosmos exist?’, ‘is there a divine mind or God?’ and ‘in what sense might we have afterlives?’ Defends a belief in immortality, without the need for a (...) religious affiliation or rejection of modern science Explores the ideas of ‘Einsteinian immortality’, the divine afterlife, and the theory of an infinite and divine mind Draws from the work of a wide-range of philosophers, from ancient Greece to the present day, and incorporates up-to-date scientific findings Written in a thought-provoking and engaging manner, accessible to anyone intrigued by the wonder of our being. (shrink)
Ethical dualists hold that we have good reason to pursue our own happiness and good reason to pursue moral goodness. It would seem that there is a potential conflict here. On the other hand there have been those who deny even the possibility of conflict, whether or not there is a God and an afterlife. Rawls seems to say, or hint, that this was Butlers’ view, and Kant, according to at least one person, argued that there cannot be conflict (...) here. I think the conflict is sometimes real, and that ‘practical reason’ does not resolve it. (shrink)
This essay examines texts from Kierkegaard's signed and pseudonymous authorship on immortality and the resurrection, challenging the received opinion that Kierkegaard's account of eternal life merely connotes a temporal, existential modality of experience as a present eternity. Kierkegaard's thoughts on immortality are more complicated than this reading allows. I demonstrate that Kierkegaard's ideas on the afterlife emerge out of a context in which the topic had been vigorously debated in both Germany and Denmark for more than a decade. In (...) responding to these debates, Kierkegaard establishes a "new argument" for immortality that stands as a robust account of the Christian resurrection and highlights the power of a personal God at the center of life, death, and post-mortem existence. (shrink)
WHEN ONE ASSUMES, as I will, that death marks the irrevocable end to one’s existence, it is difficult to make sense of the idea that a person could be harmed or benefited by events that take place after her death. How could a posthumous event either enhance or diminish the welfare of the deceased, who no longer exists? Yet we find that many people have a prudential (i.e., self-interested) concern for what’s going to happen after their deaths.1 People are, for (...) instance, concerned that their reputations not be slandered, that their achievements not be undermined, and that their contributions not be forgotten, not even after their deaths. Of course, many philosophers would insist that such a concern for what’s going to happen after one’s death must be based on, or a remnant of, a false belief in an afterlife. I, however, will argue that even if death marks the unequivocal and permanent end to one’s existence, people have good reason to be prudentially concerned with what’s going to happen after their deaths, for, as I will show, a person’s welfare can indeed be affected by posthumous events. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the difficulties that belief in a paradisiacal afterlife creates for orthodox theists. In particular, we consider the difficulties that arise when one asks whether there is freedom in Heaven, i.e. whether the denizens of Heaven have libertarian freedom in action. Our main contention is that this 'Problem of Heaven' makes serious difficulties for proponents of free will theodicies and for proponents of free will defences.
: The importance of Hegel to the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir, both to her early philosophical texts and to The Second Sex, is usually discussed in terms of the master-slave dialectic and a Kojève–influenced reading, which some see her as sharing with Sartre, others persuasively describe as divergent from and corrective to Sartre's. Altman shows that Hegel's influence on Beauvoir's work is also wider, both in terms of what she takes on board and what she works through and rejects, (...) and that her reading of Hegel is crucially inflected by two additional circumstances that Sartre did not entirely share: the experience of her first serious study of Hegel as a noncombatant in Paris during the German occupation and her earlier direct exposure to an eccentric, idealist reading of Hegel as developed by the group Philosophies in connection with surrealism and the artistic avant-garde. Altman also explores the afterlife of Hegel's influence on Beauvoir on second-wave feminism in the United States and Europe, and suggests continuing relevance to feminist theory today. (shrink)
Is your God really God? -- Believing in God -- On the "names" of God -- The meaning of "God" and the common conception of God -- What is salvation? -- Salvation versus spiritual materialism -- The idolatrous religions -- The ban on idolatry -- Idolatry as perverse worship -- Graven images and the highest one -- Idolatry as servility -- The rhetoric of idolatrousness -- The same God -- The Pharisees' problem with Jesus -- Could we be idolaters? -- (...) Supernaturalism and scientism -- Scientism and superstition -- Supernaturalism -- Legitimate naturalism -- Scientism versus science -- The argument for naturalism from true religion -- The phenomenological approach -- The method and the question -- Yahweh's use of the method -- A criterion or an enclosed circle -- Yahweh's criterion applied to himself -- Forgiving the God -- A reply to yahweh's answer to job -- Is there an internal criterion of religious falsehood? -- The pope's criterion of religious falsehood -- A consequence of the pope's criterion -- Religious and scientific fallibilism -- Why God? -- Doesn't substantive reasonableness suffice? -- The fall -- Homo incurvatus in se -- The redeemer? -- After monotheism -- The highest one -- The tetragrammaton -- The paradox of the highest one -- Speaking of the highest one -- Existents as dependent aspects of existence itself -- An alternative to the thomistic interpretation of the highest one -- Process panentheism -- The goodness of the highest one -- The analogy of logos -- Process panentheism -- The self-disclosure of existence itself -- The problem is with the pantheon -- Panentheism not pantheism -- Distinguishing panentheism and pantheism -- Presence -- Presence as disclosure -- Is being almost entirely wasted? -- Ubiquitous presence -- Against natural representation -- Representation and "carrying information" -- Can causation account for aboutness? -- What could replace the representationalist tradition? -- A diagnosis of the representationalist's mistake -- A transformed picture of "consciousness" and reality -- Confirming the surprising hypothesis -- The mind of God -- The objectivity of the realm of sense -- How the structure of presence might impose evolutionary constraints -- Objective mind and the mind of the highest one -- The doubly donatory character of reality -- Does God exist? -- The highest one -- Christianity without spiritual materialism -- Religion and violence -- The Gospel according to Girard -- Where is original sinfulness? -- Original sinfulness as self-will and false righteousness -- Christ destroys the kingdom of self-will and false righteousness -- The afterlife as an idolatrous conceit -- Against "man's quest for meaning" -- The afterlife as resistance to Christ -- Naturalism's gift : resurrection without the afterlife. (shrink)
Is life after death metaphysically possible? What would have to be the case for us to have it? What are the necessary conditions for any possible afterlife? Let us suppose for the sake of argument that there is a being with all the tools of omnipotence at its disposal-God for short. What would he have to do to give us life after death? Or is there anything he could do?
This paper features a detailed philosophical classification of the four types of deists that Samuel Clarke presents in the second series of the Boyle Lectures for promoting Christianity (1705). In the course of this paper I determine, for each type of deist, the truth values of twelve important propositions, and I show that these four types of deists may be categorized as (1) ‘no-providence’, (2) ‘physical-laws-providence’, (3) ‘moral-but-no-afterlife’, and (4) ‘moral-and-afterlife’. Using an accompanying table of propositions as a (...) visualization tool, I also show that Clarke's account of these four types of deists may be thought of as ‘progressively Christian’: for each type of deist, from lower-number deists to higher-number deists, there is an increasing number of truth values that are Christian-like. (shrink)
Bering's argument that human beings are endowed with a cognitive system dedicated to forming illusory representations of psychological immortality relies on the claim that children's beliefs in the afterlife are not the result of religious teaching. We suggest four reasons why this claim is unsatisfactory.
What happens to us when we die, if there is no afterlife? We might cease to exist, or continue existing as corpses. The view that we become corpses is hard to defend, because it makes it hard to say what our identity over time could consist in. The view that we cease to exist is little better: it seems to imply that there are no such things as corpses. A satisfying metaphysics of death is elusive.
Machine generated contents note: Chronology; Introduction John M. Najemy; 1. Niccol- Machiavelli: a portrait James B. Atkinson; 2. Machiavelli in the Chancery Robert Black; 3. Machiavelli, Piero Soderini, and the Republic of 1494-1512 Roslyn Pesman; 4. Machiavelli and the Medici Humfrey Butters; 5. Machiavelli's Prince in the epic tradition Wayne A. Rebhorn; 6. Society, class, and state in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy John M. Najemy; 7. Machiavelli's military project and the Art of War Mikael Hörnqvist; 8. Machiavelli's History of Florence (...) Anna Maria Cabrini; 9. Machiavelli and Rome: the Republic as ideal and as history J. G. A. Pocock; 10. Philosophy and religion in Machiavelli Alison Brown; 11. Rhetoric and ethics in Machiavelli Virginia Cox; 12. Machiavelli and poetry Albert Russell Ascoli and Angela Matilde Capodivacca; 13. Comedian, tragedian: Machiavelli and traditions of Renaissance theatre Ronald Martinez; 14. Machiavelli and gender Barbara Spackman; 15. Machiavelli's afterlife and reputation to the eighteenth century Victoria Kahn; 16. Machiavelli in political thought from the Age of Revolutions to the present Je;re;mie Barthas; Index. (shrink)
In recent years, much has been learned about the strategic and organizational contexts of suicide attacks. However, motivations of the agents who commit them remain difficult to explain. In part this is because standard models of social learning as well as Durkheimian notions of sacrificial behavior are inadequate in the face of the actions of human bombers. In addition, the importance of organizational structures and practices in reinforcing commitment on the part of suicide recruits is an under-explored factor in many (...) analyses. This essay examines the potential applicability of evolutionary models of altruism to the understanding of commitment to suicide on the part of terrorist organizational recruits. Three evolutionary models of sacrificial behavior in nonhuman species and many categories of human behavior are explored cross-organizationally: reciprocity, inclusive fitness theory, and induced altruism. Reciprocal altruism is unlikely to be a major motivator in suicide attacks because the costs exhibited by attackers are too high to be adequately compensated. However, the role of evolved self-deception in perceptions of personal death, and thus of rewards in the afterlife, is potentially illuminating. Inclusive fitness theory can help explain the motivations of attackers because rewards to kin often are offered by organizations to suicide recruits. However, suicide bombers also often act out of revenge for the loss of or injury to relatives, and inclusive fitness theory generally, as well as more specific theoretical models of retaliatory aggression, may not adequately account for the bombers' actions. Predictions from induced altruism theory appear to be well supported because suicide terror organizations tend to be tightly structured around practices intended to maintain and reinforce commitment though the manipulation of kinship-recognition cues. (shrink)
An accessible and engaging introduction to the philosophy of religion. Written with verve and clarity by a leading philosopher and contributor to the field Places key issues and debates in the philosophy of religion in their historical contexts, highlighting the conditions that led to the development of the field Addresses the core topics, among them the the existence of God, the problem of evil, death and the afterlife, and the problem of religious diversity Rich with argument, yet never obtrusive (...) Forms part of the Fundamentals of Philosophy series, in which renowned scholars explore the fundamental issues and core problems in the major sub-disciplines of philosophy. (shrink)
A cultural change occurred roughly 40,000 years ago. For the first time, there was evidence of belief in unseen agents and an afterlife. Before this time, humans did not show widespread evidence of being able to think about objects, persons, and other agents that they had not been in close contact with. I argue that one can explain this transition by appealing to a population increase resulting in greater exoteric (inter-group) communication. The increase in exoteric communication triggered the actualization (...) of a dormant potential for greater syntactic computational power; specifically it triggered syntactic movement. Syntactic movement, in turn, made possible variable binding, which crucially figures into cognition by description, a naturalistic analogue of Russell’s knowledge by description. Cognition by description made possible the ability to conceive of things one had never experienced, such as mythological beings, places only visited by the dead, and so forth. The Amazonian Pirahã provide some corroboration for this hypothesis, since they exhibit the combination of traits here attributed to Middle Paleolithic individuals, namely exclusively esoteric (intra-group) communication, evident lack of syntactic movement, and a limitation to knowledge (cognition) by acquaintance. (shrink)
When I was fifteen, I was having serious doubts about the existence of a supernatural entity benevolently looking over me, and—perhaps even more disturbingly—about the possibility of an afterlife in which I would again see my friends and relatives and exist happily ever after. It was at that point that I started reading the writings of Bertrand Russell,1,2 one of the most controversial philosophers and political activists of the Twentieth century.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people with autism, with known impairments in mechanisms supporting a folk psychology of mind or souls, can hold a belief in an afterlife. We focus on the role language plays, not just in acquiring the specific content of beliefs, but more significantly, in the acquisition of the concept of life after death for all people.
Ted Sider argues that a binary afterlife is inconsistent with a proportionally just God because no just criterion for placing persons in such an afterlife exists. I provide a possible account whereby God can remain proportionally just and allow a binary afterlife. On my account, there is some maximum amount of people God can allow into Heaven without sacrificing some greater good. God gives to all people at least their due but chooses to allow some who do (...) not deserve Heaven to enter out of grace. Although this model implies a precise cutoff between those who enter Heaven and those who do not, I have argued that there is a precise point where God best serves justice and some greater good. Although God’s actions may appear arbitrary and ‘whimsically generous,’ it is merely because we are ignorant of the precise cutoff point that best serves his purposes. (shrink)
Religious beliefs, including those about an afterlife and omniscient spiritual beings, vary across cultures. We theorize that such variations may be predictably linked to ecological variations, just as differences in mating strategies covary with resource distribution. Perhaps beliefs in a soul or afterlife are more common when resources are unpredictable, and life is brutal and short.
The dead will remain with us, Sartre remarks at the end of Les Mots, for as long as humanity roams the earth. The dead are never quite dead; they survive in what Sartre, in L'Etre et le néant, calls 'la vie morte' (dead life). In Huis clos, Sartre envisages an afterlife in which, although they can no longer act, the dead continue to agonize over the meaning of their lives and their now irrevocable actions. Sartre's script of Les Jeux (...) sont faits, filmed by Jean Delannoy and shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947, goes a step further. It depicts two dead people given the chance to return to earth in the pursuit of love and, at the same time, the opportunity to rectify their earlier mistakes, to change the meaning of their lives by intervening more effectively in their worlds. Despite its supernatural story line, the stakes of Les Jeux sont faits are recognizably Sartrean. The film serves as an opportunity to probe the themes of freedom, responsibility, choice, the role of the individual agent in history, the self's opacity to itself, the conflict endemic in the human condition and the ways in which external circumstances make a mockery of our endeavours. It asks the question, if we were given a second chance, could we revisit the scenes of our failures and transform them into successes? Could we learn from our mistakes and lucidly remodel the world in the form of our desires? Or are we condemned only to fail again, to make the same mistakes twice over? (shrink)
Personalised accounts of out-of-body (OBE) and near-death (NDE) experiences are frequently interpreted as offering evidence for immortality and an afterlife. Since most OBE/NDE follow severe curtailments of cerebral circulation with loss of consciousness, the agonal brain supposedly permits 'mind', 'soul' or 'consciousness' to escape neural control and provide glimpses of the afterlife. -/- Michael Marsh critically analyses the work of five key writers who support this so-called "dying brain" hypothesis. He firmly disagrees with such otherworldly 'mystical' or 'psychical' (...) interpretations, ably demonstrating how they are explicable in terms of brain neurophysiology and its neuropathological disturbances. The original basis and thrust of Marsh's claim sees the recorded phenomenology as reflections of brains rapidly reawakening to full conscious-awareness, consistent with other reported phenomenologies attending recovery from antecedent states of unconsciousness: the "re-awakening brain" hypothesis. From this basis, Marsh also offers a re-classification of NDE into early and late phase sequences, thereby dismantling the untenable concepts of "core" and "depth" experiences. -/- Marsh further provides a detailed examination of the spiritual and quasi-religious overtones accorded OBE/NDE, highlighting their inconsistencies when compared with classical accounts of divine disclosure, and the eschatological precepts of resurrection belief as professed credally. In assessing the implications of anthropological, philosophical, and theological concepts of 'personhood' and 'soul' as arguments for personal survival after death, Marsh celebrates the role of conventional faith in appropriating the expectant biblical promises of a 'New Creation'. (shrink)
Introduction -- Religion and the philosophy of religion -- Religion and the world religions -- Philosophy and the philosophy of religion -- Philosophy of religion timeline -- Religious beliefs and practices -- Religious diversity and pluralism -- The diversity of religions -- Religious inclusivism and exclusivism -- Religious pluralism -- Religious relativism -- Evaluating religious systems -- Religious tolerance -- Conceptions of ultimate reality -- Ultimate reality : the absolute and the void -- Ultimate reality : a personal God -- (...) Arguments for God's existence: cosmological -- The argument from contingency -- The sufficient reason argument -- The Kalam argument -- A cosmological argument for atheism -- Arguments for God's existence : teleological -- Paley's design argument -- A fine-tuning argument -- An intelligent design argument -- Arguments for God's existence : ontological -- Anselm's ontological argument -- Plantinga's modal ontological argument -- Problems of evil -- Sketching the terrain -- Theoretical problems of evil -- The existential problem of evil -- Theodicies -- Science, faith, and reason -- Religion and science -- Religious belief and justification -- Religious experience -- The nature and diversity of religious experience -- Religious experience and justification -- Scientific explanations of religious experience -- The self, death, and the afterlife -- Conceptions of the self -- Reincarnation and karma -- Arguments for immortality -- Arguments against immortality. (shrink)
This well-known Buddhist text sets forth a series of conditions under which a positive "rebirth" can occur. This essay argues in favor of a symbolic conception of "rebirth" that does not necessitate the recognition of after-death states of consciousness. The practical consequence of this strategy is therapeutic and enlightening even to those who doubt or deny the existence of an afterlife.
We report the results of a cross-cultural investigation of person-body reasoning in the United Kingdom and northern Brazilian Amazon (Marajó Island). The study provides evidence that directly bears upon divergent theoretical claims in cognitive psychology and anthropology, respectively, on the cognitive origins and cross-cultural incidence of mind-body dualism. In a novel reasoning task, we found that participants across the two sample populations parsed a wide range of capacities similarly in terms of the capacities’ perceived anchoring to bodily function. Patterns of (...) reasoning concerning the respective roles of physical and biological properties in sustaining various capacities did vary between sample populations, however. Further, the data challenge prior ad-hoc categorizations in the empirical literature on the developmental origins of and cognitive constraints on psycho-physical reasoning (e.g., in afterlife concepts). We suggest cross-culturally validated categories of “Body Dependent” and “Body Independent” items for future developmental and cross-cultural research in this emerging area. (shrink)
Nasir Khusraw was a leading Ismaili poet and theologian-philosopher of the Fatimid period whose writings have had a major formative influence on the Ismaili communities of Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia. The bulk of his surviving work was produced in exile in a remote mountainous region of Badakhshan where he sought refuge from persecution in his native district of Balkh. This is the first of his doctrinal treatises to be translated into English. Consisting of a series of 30 questions and (...) answers, it addresses some of the central theological and philosophical issues of his time from an Ismaili perspective, ranging from the creation of the world and the nature of the soul to the questions of human free will and accountability in the afterlife. (shrink)
Defenders of a priori arguments for dualism assume that the Cartesian thesis that possibly, I exist but no bodies exist and the physicalist thesis that I am identical with my body, are logically inconsistent. Trenton Merricks offers an argument for the compatibility of those theses. In this paper I examine several objections to Merricks’ argument. I show that none is ultimately persuasive. Nevertheless I claim that Merricks’ argument should not be accepted. I next propose a view of persons that is (...) an alternative both to person-body identity and Cartesian dualism and offer a view of the afterlife that is compatible both with the alternative conception of persons I present and the Christian doctrine of resurrection. (shrink)
Gary Schwartz, author of The Afterlife Experiments, has an impressive set of academic credentials. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard, he moved to Yale, where he served for twenty-eight years as a professor of psychology and psychiatry, director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center, and codirector of the Yale Behavioral Medicine Clinic. In 1988, he moved to the University of Arizona, where he is a professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery. He has published more than 400 (...) scientific papers. (shrink)
: It is claimed that Comparative Philosophy of Religion (CPR) mistakenly builds on the dogmas of comparative religion (or history of religions) and philosophy of religion. Thus, the belief that there are things common and therefore comparable between two or more traditions and that these objects of comparison are of philosophical or theological significance are questions that continue to trouble the field. Just what does one compare, how does one choose what to compare or why, through what methodological and epistemic (...) tools, and who is it that carries out the tasks? But what has remained unasked and unanalyzed are the larger meta-questions concerning the motivation, civilizational presuppositions, cultural parochialism, or legacies of orientalism, modernity, and (post-)colonialism that together affect the boundedness of certain key categories and thematic issues in the comparative enterprise such as God or the Transcendent, Creation, the Problem of Evil, the Afterlife, Sin, Redemption, Purpose, and the End. Is difference with respect to alterity and altarity permissible? If so, what a postcolonial, differently gendered, cross-cultural critique would look like and what is left of CPR are two such questions explored here. (shrink)