Synthese 159 (2):215 - 233 (2007)

Authors
Shaun Nichols
Cornell University
Abstract
Recent work in developmental psychology indicates that children naturally think that psychological states continue after death. One important candidate explanation for why this belief is natural appeals to the idea that we believe in immortality because we can't imagine our own nonexistence. This paper explores this old idea. To begin, I present a qualified statement of the thesis that we can't imagine our own nonexistence. I argue that the most prominent explanation for this obstacle, Freud's, is problematic. I go on to describe some central features of contemporary cognitive accounts of the imagination, and I argue that these accounts provide an independently motivated explanation for the imaginative obstacle. While the imaginative obstacle does not dictate a belief in immortality, it does, I maintain, facilitate such a belief
Keywords Afterlife beliefs  Death  Imagination  Immortality  Self
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DOI 10.2307/27653620
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References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Value in Very Long Lives.Preston Greene - 2017 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 14 (4):416-434.
On Imagining the Afterlife.K. Mitch Hodge - 2011 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (3-4):367-389.
Imagination and theI.Shaun Nichols - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (5):518-535.
Who Wants to Live Forever?Claire White - 2017 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 17 (5):419-436.

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