Afterlife

Edited by K. Mitch Hodge (Masaryk University, Queen's University, Belfast)
About this topic
Summary The afterlife, or more specifically the belief in an afterlife, is the belief that it is possible for individuals to survive death.  Scholarly discussions of afterlife beliefs cover a broad range of academic disciplines (e.g., philosophy, religious studies, anthropology and psychology) and philosophically relevant topics (e.g., personal identity, epistemology of religious belief, imagination, ethics, arguments from parapsychology, dualism and materialism).  Beliefs in the afterlife are generally one of two types: metaphysically thin, whereby the some non-identity conferring substance of the individual continues after the death of his/her physical body (e.g., their atoms, or their life force or energy is redistributed into the universe to make up other things); or metaphysically thick, whereby some essential personal identity conferring essence or substance (e.g., the person’s soul , mind or resurrected body) is said to survive either immediately after death, or at some later time.  Most scholarly discussions as well as most religio-cultural systems are concerned with the latter rather than the former.  Metaphysically thick afterlife beliefs usually take one of two forms: reincarnation (also known in the philosophical literature as transmigration of the soul), by which the individual is reborn into this world with a new life, or the individual continues his/her existence in a spiritual realm (e.g., heaven, hell, or the realm of ancestors).  How, and whether, personal identity can be maintained in an afterlife has a long history of debate in philosophy.  In addition, one cross-culturally common and philosophically important element of metaphysically thick afterlife beliefs is that the individual is rewarded or punished for his/her moral propriety or moral transgressions that he/she committed in this life. 
Key works Philosophical discussions of the afterlife date back to Pythagoras unknown and Plato 2008, 1999,  both of whom argued for the transmigration of the soul.  With a rise of Christianity in the West, discussions concerning the afterlife shifted to how personal identity was maintained in the afterlife, especially given the doctrine of the resurrection of the body (see, Sorabji 2006, and Barresi manuscript).  After Descartes 1641/1984, however, the emphasis in philosophy shifted away from survival after death in a resurrected body, to the idea that one survives death as a disembodied mind.  The modern era saw the first substantial skeptical challenge to belief in an afterlife with Coleman 2007, ms.  Contemporary philosophical discussions of the afterlife have focused on the possibility of disembodied existence and how this is to be understood (see Blose 1981, Gillett 1985, 1986, Tye 1983, Hick 1976, 1973, Swinburne 1986, Mavrodes 1977, Penelhum 1982, and Perry 1978).  In addition, with the rise of the cognitive science of religion, and experimental evidence (see Bering 2006) that humans intuitively believe in an afterlife, philosophical debate has begun on how and why the human mind is predisposed toward this belief, and the role the imagination, emotions and concepts play in representing the deceased and the afterlife (see Bek & Lock 2011, Paul & Rita 2006, Nichols 2007 and Hodge 2011, 2011).
Introductions Encyclopedia articles include Hasker 2010Andrade 2011 (on immortality).  Good introductory books to the topics dealing with the afterlife include: Corcoran 2001, Benatar 2004, Sorabji 2006, and Barresi manuscript.
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  1. Things Fall Apart: Reflections on the Dying of My Dad.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    In December of 2013, my Dad died of advanced Alzheimer's and a condition called Myasthenia Gravis. This is a selection of journal entries I made over the course of the two years leading up to my Dad's death. It is not a philosophical essay, but a personal reflection, in "real time" so to speak, on the nature of the dying process in relation to questions of faith, hope, despair, and the meaning of a man's life. I offer it here for (...)
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  2. God’s Role in a Meaningful Life: New Reflections From Tim Mawson.Thaddeus Metz - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (3):171-191.
    Characteristic of the contemporary field of life's meaning has been the combination of monism in method and naturalism in substance. That is, much of the field has sought to reduce enquiry into life's meaning to one question and to offer a single principle as an answer to it, with this principle typically focusing on ways of living in the physical world as best known by the scientific method. T. J. Mawson's new book, God and the Meanings of Life, provides fresh (...)
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  3. La Clarté d'Une Fin : L'Interpretation Historico-Critique de la Bible.Pierre Gibert - 2011 - Recherches de Science Religieuse 99 (4):511.
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  4. Book Review: Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of LifeResurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of LifebyLevensonJon D.Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006. 274 Pp. $40.00 . ISBN 978-0-300-11735-6. [REVIEW]James Luther Mays - 2008 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 62 (3):335-336.
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  5. Book Review: Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy SaturdayBetween Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy SaturdaybyLewisAlan E.Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2001. 477 Pp. $30.00 . ISBN 0-8028-4702-1. [REVIEW]Gordon W. Lathrop - 2004 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 58 (1):82-83.
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  6. Book Review: The Resurrection of the Son of GodThe Resurrection of the Son of GodbyWrightN. T.Fortress, Minneapolis, 2003. 817 Pp. $39.00. ISBN 0-8006-2681-8. [REVIEW]Mark Allan Powell - 2004 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 58 (1):76-78.
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  7. Book Review: The Eucharist: Bodies, Bread, and ResurrectionThe Eucharist: Bodies, Bread, and ResurrectionbyBielerAndreaandSchottroffLuiseFortress, Minneapolis, 2007. 248 Pp. $22.00. ISBN 978-0-8006-3867-2. [REVIEW]Claudio Carvalhaes - 2009 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 63 (3):320-321.
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  8. Book Review: Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of GodUnlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of GodbyKirkJ.R. DanielEerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2008. 245 Pp. $32.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-6290-7. [REVIEW]James C. Miller - 2010 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 64 (1):102-103.
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  9. Book Review: Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of IsraelTheology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel, byGowanDonald E.. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 1998. 250pp. $22.00. ISBN 0-664-25689-9. [REVIEW]Pamela J. Scalise - 1999 - Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 53 (3):308-309.
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  10. Comment Concerning a Review of a New Edition of Chesterton's "The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond".Rinehart S. Potts - 1991 - The Chesterton Review 17 (1):124-124.
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  11. Excerpt From Chesterton Concerning Shaw's Play "Major Barbara".G. K. Chesterton - 1993 - The Chesterton Review 19 (4):573-575.
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  12. Reading Chesterton's "The Mystagogue".Ian M. Johnstone - 1992 - The Chesterton Review 18 (1):135-137.
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  13. Like It Was Written in My Soul From Me to You: Assessing Jerry Walls' Critique of the Catholic Account of Purgatory.Francis J. Beckwith - 2013 - Heythrop Journal.
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  14. The History of Life and Death A 'Spiritual' History From Invisible Matter to Prolongation of Life.Benedino Gemelli - 2012 - Early Science and Medicine 17 (1):134-157.
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  15. Chesterton Come Giornalista.Ian Boyd - 2012 - The Chesterton Review in Italiano 2 (1):89-99.
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  16. Chesterton Come Giornalista.Ian Boyd - 2012 - The Chesterton Review in Italiano 2 (1):89-99.
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  17. Audio Version and Bernadette Sheridan's Annotated and Illustrated 1993 Edition of Chesterton's "The Ballad of the White Horse" Available.Bernadette Sheridan - 1996 - The Chesterton Review 22 (4):556-556.
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  18. Excerpt About Chesterton From "Prophets, Priests, and Kings".A. G. Gardiner - 1990 - The Chesterton Review 16 (3):364-369.
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  19. Excerpt From a Letter Commenting on a Debate Between Lady Rhondda and Chesterton on the Topic, "The Menace of Leisured Women".Rose Macauley - 1992 - The Chesterton Review 18 (4):638-638.
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  20. The Divine Energies and the “End of Human Life”.Rico Vitz & Marissa Espinoza - 2017 - American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 91 (3):473-489.
    In this paper, we elucidate an alternative conception of the “end of human life” that Germain Grisez considers but never develops. We then defend this conception against two key objections. We conclude by explaining a few ways that this alternative conception of the “end of human life” is particularly important both theologically and philosophically.
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  21. Zapis o crkvi.Aleksandar Prnjat - 2000 - Književnost 55 (7-8-9):1119-1121.
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  22. Debates Over the Resurrection of the Dead: Constructing Early Christian Identity.Juan Antonio Gaytán Luna - 2016 - Augustinianum 56 (2):496-509.
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  23. “Why Do You Stand Looking Up Toward Heaven?” New Testament Eschatology at the Turn of the Millennium.Richard B. Hays - 2000 - Modern Theology 16 (1):115-135.
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  24. Immortality, Analogy and the Phenomenology of Death.John King-Farlow - 1973 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:191.
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  25. Reply to Professor Reichenbach: P. W. GOOCH.P. W. Gooch - 1982 - Religious Studies 18 (2):231-232.
    In the above reply Professor Reichenbach repeatedly announces or suggests that my thesis is this: the view that persons are resurrected in some physical sense is inconsistent with the Pauline view of the resurrected body. Having consulted both my original intentions and my text, I must affirm again my basic point in section III of the article: the belief that resurrected persons are not embodied is not incompatible with what Paul says about resurrected bodies. While not wishing to attribute such (...)
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  26. Death in the Secular City: H. H. PRICE.H. H. Price - 1973 - Religious Studies 9 (3):351-357.
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  27. The Problem of Life After Death: H. H. PRICE.H. H. Price - 1968 - Religious Studies 3 (2):447-459.
    May I first say, Mr Chairman, that I regard it as a great honour to have been invited to take part in this Conference? I speak to you as a philosopher who happens to be interested both in religion and in psychical research. But I am afraid I am going to discuss some questions which it is ‘not done’ to talk about.
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  28. The Immortality of the Soul: J. A. HARVIE.J. A. Harvie - 1969 - Religious Studies 5 (2):207-222.
    In 1944–45 a survey was carried out on the topic of religion in a London borough, and in 1960 the survey was repeated in the same borough. In both 1945 and 1960 over forty per cent of those attending Anglican services said that they did not believe in a life after death. When due allowance has been made for the relative unreliability of public opinion sampling, it is nevertheless obvious that incredulity on this issue is widespread and probably increasing, even (...)
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  29. The Origin of Death in Some Ancient Near Eastern Religions1: S. G. F. BRANDON.S. G. F. Brandon - 1966 - Religious Studies 1 (2):217-228.
    The Irish poet W. B. Yeats once wrote, with great sapience and perception: Nor dread, nor hope attend A dying animal; A man awaits his end Dreading and hoping all. That death has ever been a problem to man is attested as far back as we can trace our species in the archaeological record—indeed, it seems to have been a problem even for that immediate precursor of homo sapiens, the so-called Neanderthal Man; for he buried his dead.
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  30. Reincarnation and Relativized Identity1: J. J. MACINTOSH.J. J. MacIntosh - 1989 - Religious Studies 25 (2):153-165.
    There are five main claims that may be made about life after death: We are reincarnated in the self-same body we had in life. We are reincarnated in another body. We are revived, or continue to live in a disembodied form.
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  31. A Russian View of Immortality: J. A. HARVIE.J. A. Harvie - 1974 - Religious Studies 10 (4):479-485.
    It is arguable that without a decline in the credibility of life after death, Western civilisation, with its frenetic attempts to manipulate man's physical environment, could hardly have developed as it did. As long as human life is regarded sub specie aeternitatis, changes in the conditions under which it is lived can hardly be thought of as being of supreme importance. Conversely, current indications of a renewal of interest in the great theme of personal immortality may owe something to the (...)
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  32. On Disembodied Resurrected Persons: A Study in the Logic of Christian Eschatology: P. W. GOOCH.P. W. Gooch - 1981 - Religious Studies 17 (2):199-213.
    I believe in…the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The ancient Christian affirmation of a bodily resurrection still echoes today, and admittedly makes this paper's title sound odd. Resurrected persons are supposedly people with bodies, at least within Christian eschatology. How then can they be disembodied? The counter-question is whether the notion of bodily-resurrected persons can satisfy certain problems raised by that same Christian eschatology, and this paper is an exploration of these issues. The first part draws attention (...)
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  33. ‘Noli Me Tangere’: Why John Meier Won't Touch the Risen Lord.William Lane Craig - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (1):91-97.
    John Meier distinguishes ‘the real Jesus’ from ‘the historical Jesus’. Meier claims that whatever happened to the real Jesus after his death, his resurrection cannot belong to the historical Jesus because that event is in principle not open to the observation of any observer. But why think that the resurrection is not observable in this way? Meier finds justification in Gerald O'Collins' view that although the resurrection of Jesus is a real event, it is not an event in space and (...)
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  34. Dialectic of Salvation: Issues in Theology of Liberation. [REVIEW]German Martinez - 1991 - Thought: Fordham University Quarterly 66 (4):429-430.
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  35. Platonic Myth and Platonic Writing. [REVIEW]C. L. D. - 1981 - Review of Metaphysics 35 (1):178-179.
    Plato is the only major philosopher in the western tradition to present myths as an essential part of his philosophical writings. Nevertheless, scholars have seldom, if ever, reflected on the possibility that Plato understood the nature and purpose of myths differently than they are understood today. This has resulted either in scholars ignoring them, while concentrating on the "analytic" segments of the dialogues, or giving facile interpretations of them. Zaslavsky approaches the Platonic myths with the intent of determining, through a (...)
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  36. Cruncher on Resurrection: A Tale of Charles Dickens.Stanley Tick - 1981 - Renascence 33 (2):86-98.
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  37. In Praise of Civility: Conservative Values in Elizabeth Bowen's the Death of the Heart.John Coates - 1985 - Renascence 37 (4):248-265.
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  38. Chesterton and Belloc: Show the Way Forward!Russell Sparkes - 2010 - The Chesterton Review 36 (3/4):127-139.
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  39. Chesterton at the Fin de Siécle: Orthodoxy and the Perception of Evil.William Oddie - 1999 - The Chesterton Review 25 (3):329-343.
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  40. Chesterton, Pollack, and McLuhan: Three Searchers.David Chesterton - 1982 - The Chesterton Review 8 (1):51-56.
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  41. Chesterton and Industrialism: A Last Word to Margaret Canovan.Peter Hunt - 1982 - The Chesterton Review 8 (1):67-70.
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  42. Chesterton and the Resurrection of Poland: Literary and Political Influences.Dermot Quinn - 2012 - The Chesterton Review 38 (3/4):421-436.
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  43. "Autobiography," by G. K. Chesterton. [REVIEW]William L. Isley - 1986 - The Chesterton Review 12 (4):529-532.
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  44. The First Book From the Chesterton Review Press: "Chesterton and the Modernist Crisis". [REVIEW]E. C. Farrell - 1991 - The Chesterton Review 17 (1):107-108.
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  45. "The Politics of Heresy: The Modernist Crisis in Roman Catholicism," by Lester R. Kurtz. [REVIEW]Sheridan Gilley - 1989 - The Chesterton Review 15 (1/2):189-191.
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  46. "The Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton," by Aidan Mackey. [REVIEW]Iain T. Benson - 1988 - The Chesterton Review 14 (2):285-287.
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  47. Chesterton’s Strategy for Evangelizing the Culture.Stratford Caldecott - 2004 - The Chesterton Review 30 (3/4):329-347.
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  48. "Thinkers of Our Time: Chesterton," by Ian Crowther. [REVIEW]George Bull - 1992 - The Chesterton Review 18 (1):95-98.
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  49. Chesterton's Childhood: The Golden Key 1874-1886.Leo A. Hetzler - 1995 - The Chesterton Review 21 (3):296-313.
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  50. Chesterton and the Diasporas: A Reply to Owen Edwards.Gordon MacDonald - 1981 - The Chesterton Review 7 (1):50-56.
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