Practical Identity

In Benjamin Matheson & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), Palgrave Handbook of the Afterlife. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 391-411 (2017)
Authors
Benjamin Matheson
Stockholm University
Abstract
In this paper, I present a dilemma for those who believe in the afterlife: either we won’t survive death (or an eternal life) in the sense that most matters to us or we will become bored if we do. First, I argue that even if we – in a strict sense – survive death, there is practical sense in which we don’t survive death. This applies, I contend, to all accounts of the afterlife that: eventually, we lose our practical identity. I show that our practical identity is more important to us than our numerical identity. But, as we’ll see, our practical identity is not just lost in an afterlife, but also with an eternal or immortal life. Theists have a strategy to resist this line of argument: they can argue that God will help us to retain our current practical identities. However, those that pursue this line of argument fall onto the second horn of my proposed dilemma: if we cannot change our practical identities then it seems that eventually we will become bored, and eternally so.
Keywords practical identity  afterlife  personal identity
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