Regarding Immortality: ROY W. PERRETT

Religious Studies 22 (2):219-233 (1986)
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Would personal immortality have any value for one so endowed? An affirmative answer would seem so obvious to some that they might be tempted to go so far as to claim that immortality is a condition of life's having any value at all. The claim that immortality is a necessary condition for the meaningfulness of life seems untenable. What, however, of the claim that immortality is a sufficient condition for the meaningfulness of life? Though some might hold this to be the characteristic religious view, this is certainly disputable. Thus McTaggart reminds us, for instance, that ‘Buddhism... holds immortality to be the natural state of man, from which only the most perfect can escape.’ I want to argue that we can imagine variants of personal immortality which would not be valuable and hence immortality in itself cannot be a sufficient condition for value. What is required for the meaningfulness of life is that life exhibit certain valuable qualities. But then the endless exhibition of these qualities is not only unnecessary for the meaningfulness of life, but the endlessness of a life can even devalue those qualities that would make valuable a single, bounded life



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Roy Perrett
Australian National University

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