"There are seven chapters, addressing philosophical issues pertaining to death, the badness of death, time and death, ideas on immortality, near death experiences, and extending life through medical technology. The book is shorter, and less elaborate, than Kagan's Death. And it goes into more depth about a selection of central issues related to death and immortality than May's book. It gives an original take on various basic puzzles pertaining to death, and integrates a (...) discussion of these philosophical issues with an analysis of near-death experiences, as well as an exploration of contemporary efforts to extend life by heroic medical means"--. (shrink)
This is the earliest critical discussion in the context of modern/contemporary philosophy in the analytical tradition arguing that somebody with a reasonably stable character and the company of the right people would be able to enjoy eternity.
There is one thing we can be sure of: we are all going to die. But once we accept that fact, the questions begin. In this thought-provoking book, philosophy professor Shelly Kagan examines the myriad questions that arise when we confront the meaning of mortality. Do we have reason to believe in the existence of immortal souls? Or should we accept an account according to which people are just material objects, nothing more? Can we make sense of the idea of (...) surviving the death of one’s body? If I won’t exist after I die, can death truly be _bad_ for me? Would immortality be desirable? Is fear of death appropriate? Is suicide ever justified? How should I _live_ in the face of death? Written in an informal and conversational style, this stimulating and provocative book challenges many widely held views about death, as it invites the reader to take a fresh look at one of the central features of the human condition—the fact that we will die. (shrink)
Death and immortality played a central role in Greek and Roman thought, from Homer and early Greek philosophy to Marcus Aurelius. In this book A. G. Long explains the significance of death and immortality in ancient ethics, particularly Plato's dialogues, Stoicism and Epicureanism; he also shows how philosophical cosmology and theology caused immortality to be re-imagined. Ancient arguments and theories are related both to the original literary and theological contexts and to contemporary debates on the philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>death. The book will be of major interest to scholars and students working on Greek and Roman philosophy, and to those wishing to explore ancient precursors of contemporary debates about death and its outcomes. (shrink)
We normally take it for granted that other people will live on after we ourselves have died. Even if we do not believe in a personal afterlife in which we survive our own deaths, we assume that there will be a "collective afterlife" in which humanity survives long after we are gone. Samuel Scheffler maintains that this assumption plays a surprising - indeed astonishing - role in our lives.
This book contributes to current bioethical debates by providing a critical analysis of the philosophy of human death. Bernard N. Schumacher discusses contemporary philosophical perspectives on death, creating a dialogue between phenomenology, existentialism, and analytic philosophy. He also examines the ancient philosophies that have shaped our current ideas about death. His analysis focuses on three fundamental problems: (1) the definition of human death, (2) the knowledge of mortality and of human death as such, and (3) (...) the question of whether death is "nothing" to us or, on the contrary, whether it can be regarded as an absolute or relative evil. Drawing on scholarship published in four languages and from three distinct currents of thought, this volume represents a comprehensive and systematic study of the philosophy of death, one that provides a provocative basis for discussions of the bioethics of human mortality. (shrink)
Johnston presents an argument for a form of immortality that divests the notion of any supernatural elements. The book is packed with illuminating philosophical reflection on the question of what we are, and what it is for us to persist over time.
In the contemporary context of environmental crises and the degradation of resources, certain habitats become unliveable, leading to the death of individuals and species extinction. Whilst bioscience emphasises interdependency and relationality as crucial characteristics of life shared by all organisms, Western cultural imaginaries tend to draw a thick dividing line between humans and nonhumans, particularly evident in the context of death. On the one hand, death appears as a process common to all forms of life; on the (...) other, as an event that distinguishes human from other organisms. Against this background, this article explores how contemporary art—in particular, the series of works The Absence of Alice by Australian new-media and bioartist Svenja Kratz—challenges the normative and human-exceptionalist concept of death. By employing queerfeminist biophilosophy as a strategy that focuses on relations, processes and transformations instead of ‘essences’, the article examines the ways Kratz’s works deterritorialise the conventional concept of death. In this way, it hopes to attend to the intimacies between materialities of a human and nonhuman kind that form part of the processes of death and dying, and what follows, to reframe ethico-ontology of death as material and processual ecologies of the non/living. (shrink)
Death and Philosophy presents a wide ranging and fascinating variety of different philosophical, aesthetic and literary perspectives on death. Death raises key questions such as whether life has meaning of life in the face of death, what the meaning of "life after death" might be and whether death is part of a narrative that can be retold in different ways, and considers the various types of death, such as brain death, that challenge (...) mind-body dualism. The essays also include explorations of Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan perspectives on death and why death in some cultures, such as in Mexico's day of the dead, is celebrated. (shrink)
A disturbing portrait of a society deliriously dreaming itself as eternal, instantaneous, and infinite. At least for the time being, we humans are still finite and mortal--but death isn't what it used to be. As the body is technologically extended in space and time, we are split between our finitude and our doubled presence in a limitless web of signs, an "immortal" world of information. After Death offers a penetrating philosophical diagnosis of our contemporary condition, describing not only (...) an anesthesia, but an amnesia in which the compulsions of a hyper-present colonize both past and future, prevailing over any sense of duration, becoming, or appreciation of the "thickness of the real. "Are we living in a kind of counterfeit eternity in which we are effectively already dead?". Against the anxiety of the constant present, how can we hope to return to the experience of being in time and facing death. After Death is a disturbing portrait of a society deliriously dreaming itself as eternal, instantaneous, and infinite. (shrink)
Despite widespread support for the claim that death can harm the one who dies, debate continues over how to rescue this harm thesis (HT) from Epicurus’s challenge. Disagreements focus on two of the three issues that any defense of HT must resolve: the subject of death’s harm and the timing of its injury. About the nature of death’s harm, however, a consensus has emerged around the view that death harms a subject (when it does) by depriving (...) her of the goods life would’ve afforded had she continued living. This deprivation view of death’s harm (DV) derives some of its credibility from the general deprivation theory of which it is an instance: mortal harm is subject to the same kind of analysis plausibly given of other non-mortal harms. Furthermore, note that the weak formulation of HT—asserting only that death can inflict harm, not that it always or necessarily does—accommodates the intuition that instances of rational suicide and justifiable euthanasia present cases in which death fails to harm. DV is equipped to explain how in these cases the harms involved in continued existence outweigh the goods of which death deprives the subject. I agree that suicide can be rational and that euthanasia can be justifiable. Likewise I accept both HT and DV as far as they go. But they do not go far enough. Specifically, I argue here that death harms even those who die as a result of rational suicide or justifiable euthanasia; that death’s harm is neither undifferentiated nor wholly contingent, but multifaceted and partly necessary; that the necessary part of death’s harm is distinctive, inflicting a peculiar restriction on the autonomy of one who dies; and, regarding the timing and subject issues, that this restriction harm is inflicted on the antemortem subject prior to her death. (shrink)
50 years after its introduction, brain death remains controversial among scholars. The debates focus on one question: is brain death a good criterion for determining death? This question has been answered from various perspectives: medical, metaphysical, ethical, and legal or political. Most authors either defend the criterion as it is, propose some minor or major revisions, or advocate abandoning it and finding better solutions to the problems that brain death was intended to solve when it was (...) introduced. Here I plead for a different approach that has been overlooked in the literature: the philosophy of science approach. Some scholars claim that human death is a matter of fact, a biological phenomenon whose occurrence can be determined empirically, based on science. We should take this claim seriously, whether we agree with it or not. The question is: how do we know that human death is a scientific matter of fact? Taking the philosophy of science approach means, among other things, examining how the determination of human death became an object of scientific inquiry, exploring the nature of the brain death criterion itself, and analysing the meaning of its core concepts such as “irreversibility” and “functions”. (shrink)
One popular rival to Epicureanism is deprivationism, which maintains that a person’s death at a given time is bad for her to the extent that, and because, it prevents her from having a longer life that would have been, on the whole, good. Deprivationism has the surprising implication that we can lessen how bad a person’s death is for them by changing the life they would have had if they lived longer (for example, by convincing a person’s favorite (...) author to stop writing additional books). Some have found this possibility to be “self-defeating”; Egerstrom defends deprivationism against this objection. (shrink)
From Odysseus' seduction by the song of the Sirens to Oscar Moore's 1991 novel A Matter of Life and Sex , whose protagonist courts death through sex and dies of AIDS, the frustrated relationship between death and desire has fixated the Western imagination. Philosophers have grappled with it and poets have told of its beauty and pain. In this strikingly original work, cultural critic Jonathan Dollimore once again demonstrates his remarkable ability to take on the complex and reveal (...) its relevance with eloquence and grace. Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture is a rich testament to our ubiquitous preoccupation with the tangled web of death and desire. In these pages we find nuanced analysis that blends Plato with Shelley, Hölderlin with Foucault. Dollimore, a gifted thinker, is not content to summarize these texts from afar; instead, he weaves a thread through each to tell the magnificent story of the making of the modern individual. An immensely important book, Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture is a challenge to the way we understand desire, sexuality, and the very notion of identity. (shrink)
Saṃvega is a morally motivating state of shock that -- according to Buddhaghosa -- should be evoked by meditating on death. What kind of mental state it is exactly, and how it is morally motivating is unclear, however. This article presents a theory of saṃvega -- what it is and how it works -- based on recent insights in psychology. According to dual process theories there are two kinds of mental processes organized in two" systems" : the experiential, automatic (...) system 1, and the rational, controlled system 2. In normal circumstances, system 1 does not believe in its own mortality. Saṃvega occurs when system 1 suddenly realizes that the "subjective self" will inevitably die (while system 2 is already disposed to affirm the subject's mortality). This results in a state of shock that is morally motivating under certain conditions. Saṃvega increases mortality salience and produces insight in suffering, and in combination with a strengthened sense of loving-kindness or empathic concern both mortality salience and insight in suffering produce moral motivation. (shrink)
In this essay, I will look closer at the death of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who committed suicide in 1995. I will scrutinize his death in concordance with his philosophical thoughts, but frame my gaze within Albert Camus’ well-known opening- question from The Myth of Sisyphus: “Judging whether life is worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy” (Camus, 2005:1).
One of Jacques Derrida’s richest and most provocative works, Life Death challenges and deconstructs one of the most deeply rooted dichotomies of Western thought: life and death. Here Derrida rethinks the traditional philosophical understanding of the relationship between life and death, undertaking multidisciplinary analyses of a range of topics, including philosophy, linguistics, and the life sciences. In seeking to understand the relationship between life and death, he engages in close readings of Freudian psychoanalysis, the philosophy of (...) Nietzsche and Heidegger, French geneticist François Jacob, and epistemologist Georges Canguilhem. Derrida gave his “Life Death” seminar over fourteen sessions between 1975 and 1976 at the École normale supérieure in Paris as part of the preparation for students studying for the agrégation, a notoriously competitive qualifying exam. The theme for the exam that year was “Life and Death,” but Derrida made a critical modification to the title by dropping the coordinating conjunction. The resulting title of Life Death poses a philosophical question about the close relationship between life and death. Derrida argues that death must be considered neither as the opposite of life nor as the truth or fulfillment of it, but rather as that which both limits life and makes it possible. Through these captivating sessions, Derrida thus not only questions traditional understandings of the relationship between life and death, but also ultimately develops a new way of thinking about what he calls “life death.”. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? In today's secular, post-religious scientific world, this question has become a serious preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major philosophers have thought deeply about it, as Julian Young so vividly illustrates in this thought-provoking second edition of _The Death of God and the Meaning of Life_. Three new chapters explore Søren Kierkegaard’s attempts to preserve a Christian answer to the question of the meaning of life, Karl Marx's attempt to translate (...) this answer into naturalistic and atheistic terms, and Sigmund Freud’s deep pessimism about the possibility of any version of such an answer. Part 1 presents an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Marx who have believed in a meaning of life, either in some supposed ‘other’ world or in the future of this world. Part 2 assesses what happened when the traditional structures that give life meaning began to erode. With nothing to take their place, these structures gave way to the threat of nihilism, to the appearance that life is meaningless. Young looks at the responses to this threat in chapters on Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault and Derrida. Fully revised and updated throughout, this highly engaging exploration of fundamental issues will captivate anyone who’s ever asked themselves where life’s meaning really lies. It also makes a perfect historical introduction to philosophy, particularly to the continental tradition. (shrink)
Many books have been published about physician-assisted death. This book offers a comprehensive and in-depth examination of that subject, but it also extends the discussion to a broader range of end-of-life decisions including suicide, palliative care and sedation until death. In every jurisdiction that has laws permitting some kind of physician-assisted death, a central point of controversy is whether such assistance should only be available to dying patients, or to everyone who wants to end his life. The (...) right to determine the manner and time of one's own death, however, does not necessarily mean that physicians should be permitted to cooperate in ensuring a quick and peaceful death. In this book, Govert den Hartogh considers the fundamental and practical matters-including concrete issues of legal regulation-related to end-of life decision making. He proposes a two-tiered system. Everyone should have access to humane means of ending his life, if his decision to end it is voluntary, well-considered and durable. But doctors should only participate in a joint action of ending the patient's life on his request if they also are convinced of acting in the patient's best interests, in particular by ending intolerable and unrelievable suffering. And perhaps there is reason to restrict that second service to dying patients. The whole argument, however, depends on the extent to which, in both tiers of the system, we can design legal safeguards that will enable us to trust judgments about the requesting person's request and about his suffering. The book considers much new evidence in regard to this issue. What Kind of Death will appeal to researchers and advanced students working in bioethics, applied ethics, philosophy of law and health law. (shrink)
Nietzsche famously proclaimed the “death of God,” but in so doing it was not God’s death that was really notable—Nietzsche assumes that most reflective, modern readers realize that “the belief in the Christian god has become unbelievable” —but the implications of that belief becoming unbelievable, namely, “how much must collapse now that this faith has been undermined,” in particular, “the whole of our European morality”. What is the connection between the death of God and the death (...) of morality? I argue that Nietzsche thinks the death of God will undermine the “moral egalitarianism” that is central to modern morality, in both its deontological and utilitarian forms. I offer an account of how Nietzsche sees the connection, arguing that no one has yet offered a nontheistic defense of moral egalitarianism. I conclude with some skeptical considerations about whether Nietzsche was right that atheism would, in fact, undermine morality. (shrink)
Epicurus (in)famously argued that death is not harmful and therefore our standard reactions to it (like deep fear of death and going to great lengths to postpone it) are not rational, inaugurating an ongoing debate about the harm of death. Those who wish to resist this conclusion must identify the harm of death. But not any old harm will do. In order to resist both the claim that death is not harmful and the claim that (...) our standard reactions to it are irrational, we must identify a harm associated with death that rationalizes our standard reactions. We can divide the potential harm properties death might have along two axes: intrinsic/extrinsic and instrumental/final. This gives us four places to search for the harm of death. I argue that it is nowhere to be found. (shrink)
Near-death experiences offer a glimpse not only into the nature of death but also into the meaning of life. They are not only useful tools to aid in the human quest to understand death but are also deeply meaningful, transformative experiences for the people who have them. In a unique contribution to the growing and popular literature on the subject, philosophers John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin examine prominent near-death experiences, such as those of Pam Reynolds, (...) Eben Alexander and Colton Burpo. They combine their investigations with critiques of the narratives' analysis by those who take them to show that our minds are immaterial and heaven is for real. In contrast, the authors provide a blueprint for a science-based explanation. Focusing on the question of whether near-death experiences provide evidence that consciousness is separable from our brains and bodies, Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin give a naturalistic account of the profound meaning and transformative effects that these experiences engender in many. This book takes the reality of near-death experiences seriously. But it also shows that understanding them through the tools of science is completely compatible with acknowledging their profound meaning. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? In the post-modern, post-religious scientific world, this question is becoming a preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major figures in philosophy had something to say on the subject, as Julian Young so vividly illustrates in this thought-provoking book. Part One of the book presents an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Hegel and Marx who have believed in some sort of meaning of life, either in some supposed 'other' world or (...) in the future of this world. Part Two looks at what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning ceased to be believed. With nothing to take their place, these structures gave way to the threat of nihilism, to the appearance that life is meaningless. Julian Young looks at the responses to this threat in the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault and Derrida. This compelling and highly engaging exploration of fundamental values will captivate anyone who's ever asked themselves where life's meaning really lies. It also makes a perfect historical introduction to philosophy. (shrink)
The debate over whether brain death is death has focused on whether individuals who have sustained total brain failure have satisfied the biological definition of death as “the irreversible loss of the integration of the organism as a whole.” In this paper, I argue that what it means for an organism to be integrated “as a whole” is undefined and vague in the views of those who attempt to define death as the irreversible loss of the (...) integration of the organism as a whole. I show how what it means for a living thing to be integrated as a whole depends on the sortal concept by which it is identified. Since interests, values, and ontological considerations besides strictly biological ones affect the concepts by which we individuate and identify living things, those non-biological considerations have a bearing on what it means for a particular kind of living thing to exist as a whole and thus what it means for one of us to die. Even if our bodies may remain organically integrated in some sense despite total brain failure, this fact should not lead us to reject brain death as death. Artificially sustained brain-dead human bodies are not human beings, but the remains of them. While such bodies may be alive in some sense, they are not human beings or human persons. They are not one of us. (shrink)
This book offers a multifaceted exploration of death and the possibilities for an afterlife. By incorporating a variety of approaches to these subjects, it provides a unique framework for extending and reshaping enduring philosophical debates around human existence up to and after death. Featuring original essays from a diverse group of international scholars, the book is arranged in four main sections. Firstly, it addresses how death is or should be experienced, engaging with topics such as near-death (...) experiences, continuing bonds with the deceased, and attitudes toward dying. Secondly, it looks at surviving death, addressing the metaphysics of human persons, the nature of time, the nature of the true self, and the nature of the divine. It then evaluates the value of mortality and immortality, drawing upon the resources of the history of philosophy, meta-analysis of contemporary debates, and the analogy between individual death and species extinction. Finally, it explores what an eternal life might be like, examining the place of selflessness, embodiment, and racial identity in such a life. This volume allows for a variety of philosophical and theological perspectives to be brought to bear on the end of life and what might be beyond. As such, it will be a fascinating resource for scholars in the Philosophy of Religion, Theology and Death Studies. (shrink)
Queer Death Studies (QDS) refers to an emerging transdisciplinary field of research that critically and (self) reflexively investigates and challenges conventional normativities, assumptions, expectations, and regimes of truths that are brought to life and made evident by death, dying, and mourning. Since its establishment as a research field in the 1970s, Death Studies has drawn attention to the questions of death, dying, and mourning as complex and multifaceted phenomena that require inter- or multi-disciplinary approaches and perspectives. (...) Yet, the engagements with death, dying and mourning, constitutive of conventional Death Studies’ investigations, tend to remain insufficient and reductive. They are often governed by the normative notions of: the subject; bonds between humans, as well as between humans and (their) animals; family relations and communities; rituals; and finally, experiences of grief, mourning, and bereavement. Moreover, these engagements are frequently embedded in constraining beliefs in life/death divides, constructed along the lines of conventional religious and/or scientific mind/body dualisms, characteristic of the Western cultural imaginaries. Against this background, QDS offers a site for ‘queering’ traditional ways of approaching death both as a subject of study and philosophical reflection, and as a phenomenon to articulate in artistic work or practices of mourning. Here, the notion of ‘queer’ conveys many meanings. It refers to researching and narrating death, dying, and mourning in the context of queer bonds and communities, where the subjects involved/studied/interviewed and the relations they are involved in are recognised as ‘queer’. Simultaneously, the term ‘queer’ can also function as an adverb and a verb, referring thus to the processes of going beyond and unsettling (subverting, exceeding) binaries and given norms, normativities, and constraining conventions. In other words, ‘queer’ becomes both a process and a methodology that is applicable and exceeds the focus on gender and sexuality as its exclusive concerns. (shrink)
Both Martin Heidegger and Harry Frankfurt have argued that the fundamental feature of human identity is care. Both contend that caring is bound up with the fact that we are finite beings related to our own impending death, and both argue that caring has a distinctive, circular and non-instantaneous, temporal structure. In this paper, I explore the way Heidegger and Frankfurt each understand the relations among care, death, and time, and I argue for the superiority of Heideggerian version (...) of this nest of claims. Frankfurt claims that we should conceive of the most basic commitments which practically orient a person in the world and define his identity (“volitional necessities”) as naturalistic facts, foundational for and located completely without the normative space of reasons. In support of this he appeals to the supposedly foundational role played in human life by the instinct for self-preservation, what Frankfurt calls the “love of living.” The claim is that in questions of practical identity there is a definite priority of the factual over the normative. Frankfurt’s naturalistic model of volitional necessity is motivated by a misunderstanding of the temporal structure of care, a misunderstanding that helps lead him to an implausible conception of the basic structures of human identity. Heidegger advances an anti-naturalistic conception of caring, one bound up with his way of understanding how human beings relate to their own future. I argue that the existential, temporal, and normative significance that Frankfurt attributes to the naturalized “love of living” is better captured by the Heideggerian claim that human identity is defined by being “for-the-sake-of” certain projects and commitments, a way of being lived out in the way Heidegger calls “being-towards-death.”. (shrink)
The neurological criteria for the determination of death remain controversial within secular and Catholic circles, even though they are widely accepted within the medical community. In Determining Death by Neurological Criteria, Matthew Hanley offers both a practical and a philosophical defense. Hanley shows that the criteria are often misapplied in clinical settings, leading to cases where persons declared dead apparently spontaneously revive. These instances are often connected to a rushed decision to retrieve donated organs, thus undermining the trust (...) of the public in organ donation. Hanley calls on health care institutions to take seriously their obligation to establish strict protocols for the determination of death, including who may conduct the examinations. From a broader perspective, Hanley considers how the criteria rely on a philosophical conception of the person as a living organism whose unity disintegrates at death. This view, he notes, corresponds to the Catholic conviction that the soul is the life-principle of the body, which departs at death, bringing about the destruction of the body-soul composite. The Vatican, recognizing that death is a medical judgment, has generally given its approval to the criteria. Hanley also reviews the many and various objections offered by detractors, including against the use of the apnea test, which is faulted as a practice that sometimes hastens death. The problem of the continued presence of certain vital functions within the deceased body of the brain dead is explored in detail, with reference to particular cases and to solutions proposed by leading physicians and bioethicists. Hanley likewise addresses the dilemma of having two separate standards for death, one neurological and the other cardiopulmonary. Given the possibility of resuscitation following loss of the cardio-circulatory system, he concludes that the neurological criteria must be the true standard. Stoppage of the heart leads swiftly to the final necrosis of the brain. -- Provided by publisher. (shrink)
This book provides a sound, accurate discussion of some of the contributions of some historical and contemporary writers on particular issues in political philosophy. In addition, Manicas argues for the death of the state, that there ought not to be political institutions as they have been conceived historically. His arguments to this conclusion are not as persuasive as his criticism of others’ theories, but on the whole this is a book worth considering for class purposes.
This paper reflects on an article that appeared after the death of A.J. Ayer, which complains about what British philosophers focus on. I propose that the content of the philosophy curriculum can be predicted from a rational actor model.
There is a kind of living that feels like dying. There is a kind of life marked—relentlessly—by death. The term social death refers to this experience, this rhythm, this walled passage. By definition, social death may belong to whoever—or indeed whatever—lives and dies in a network of relation. Even when conceived of only anthropocentrically, then, the term must apply beyond that, because the human being lives and dies in nonhuman relation. Moreover, social death always occurs out (...) of sync with physical death. As such, its temporality is unique. Social death is already and not yet, long begun and never finished, and one is never quite sure when it will strike; it is out of time. Given the way in which it eddies across existences and temporalities, social death is a chimerical, though no less powerful term. (shrink)
_Death, Posthumous Harm, and Bioethics_ offers a highly distinctive and original approach to the metaphysics of death and applies this approach to contemporary debates in bioethics that address end-of-life and post-mortem issues. Taylor defends the controversial Epicurean view that death is not a harm to the person who dies and the neo-Epicurean thesis that persons cannot be affected by events that occur after their deaths, and hence that posthumous harms are impossible. He then extends this argument by asserting (...) that the dead cannot be wronged, finally presenting a defence of revisionary views concerning posthumous organ procurement. (shrink)
The dead are gone. They count for nothing. Yet, if we count the dead, their number is staggering. And they account for most of what is great about civilization. Compared to the greatness of the dead, the accomplishments of the living are paltry. Which is it then: are the dead still there tobe counted or not? And if they are still there, where exactly is "there"? We are confronted with the ancient paradox of nonexistence bequeathed us by Parmenides. The mystery (...) of death is the mystery of nonexistence.A successful attempt to provide a metaphysics of death, then, must resolve the paradox of nonexistence. That is the aim of this study. At the same time, the metaphysics of death, of ceasing to exist, must serve as an account of birth, of coming to exist; the primary thesis of this book is that thisdemands going beyond existence and nonexistence to include what underlies both, which one can call, following tradition, "being." The dead and the unborn are therefore objects that lack existence but not being. Nonexistent objects - not corpses, or skeletons, or memories, all of which are existentobjects - are what are "there" to be counted when we count the dead. (shrink)
Introduction -- Part I: The meaning of life -- Richard Taylor, The meaning of life -- Thomas Nagel, The absurd -- Richard Hare, Nothing matters -- W.D. Joske, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- Robert Nozick, Philosophy and the meaning of life -- David Schmidtz, The meanings of life -- Part II: Creating people -- Derek Parfit, Whether causing someone to exist can benefit this person -- John Leslie, Why not let life ecome extinct? -- James Lenman, On becoming (...) extinct -- David Benatar, Why it is better never to come into existence -- Part III: Death -- Stephen E. Rosenbaum, How to be dead and not care : a defense of epicurus -- GeorgePpitcher, The misfortunes of the dead -- Steven Luper, Annihilation -- Fred Fldman, Some puzzles about the evil of death -- Frederick Kaufman, Pre-vital and post-mortem non-existence -- David B. Suits, Why death is not bad for the one who died -- Part IV: Suicide -- David Hume, Of suicide -- Immanuel Kant, Suicide and duty -- David Benatar, Suicide : a qualified defence -- Part V: Immortality -- James Lenman, Immortality : a letter -- Bernard Williams, The Makropulos case : reflections on the tedium of immortality -- John Martin Fischer, Why immortality is not so bad -- Christine Overall, from here to eternity : is it good to live forever? -- Part VI: Optimism and pessimism -- Margaret A. Boden, Optimism -- Michaelis Michael and Peter Caldwell, The consolations of optimism -- Bruce N. Waller, The sad truth : optimism, pessimism, and pragmatism -- Arthur Schopenhauer, On the suffering of the world. (shrink)
When does a human being cease to exist? For millennia, the answer to this question had remained largely unchanged: death had been diagnosed when heartbeat and breathing were permanently absent. Only comparatively recently, in the 1950s, rapid developments in intensive-care medicine called into question this widely accepted criterion. What had previously been deemed a permanent cessation of vital functions suddenly became reversible. -/- A new criterion of death was needed. It was suggested that the destruction of the brain (...) could indicate the death of the organism in the presence of external life support. Soon the so-called brain death became the new worldwide standard. In recent years, however, doubts about this neurological criterion have been growing. Is brain death really our death? -/- This is the question that this thesis seeks to answer. To this end, we shall connect the medical debate about the definition of death to the philosophical debate about personal identity. While we will find that the destruction of its brain does in fact not correspond to an organism’s death, we shall also ask whether the assumption that we are essentially organisms is correct. May brain death be the ceasing to exist of a different entity? -/- Substituting clinical case reports and considerations about human physiology for the use of thought experiments, the thesis takes a novel and philosophically unconventional approach to the problem of what we essentially are. We shall analyse various pathological conditions and their respective effects on the bodily and mental characteristics of our existence. We will conclude that brain death is indeed our death – but for reasons entirely different from those cited in the original justification of this criterion. (shrink)
Among the phenomena of near-death experiences (NDEs) are what are known as aftereffects whereby, over time, experiencers undergo substantial, long-term life changes, becoming less fearful of death, more moral and spiritual, and more convinced that life has meaning and that an afterlife exists. Some supernaturalists attribute these changes to the experience being real. John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin, on the other hand, have asserted a naturalist thesis involving a metaphorical interpretation of NDE narratives that preserves their significance (...) but eliminates the supernaturalist causal explanation. I argue that Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin’s psychological thesis fails as an explanation of NDEs. (shrink)
What is death and why does it matter to us? How should the knowledge of our finitude affect the living of our lives and what are the virtues suitable to mortal beings? Does death destroy the meaningfulness of lives, or would lives that never ended be eternally and absurdly tedious? Should we reconcile ourselves to the fact of our forthcoming death, or refuse to "go gently into that good night"? Can death really be an evil if, (...) after death, we no longer exist as subjects of goods or evils? How should we respond to the deaths of others and do we have any duties towards the dead? These, and many other, questions are addressed in Geoffrey Scarre's book, which draws upon a wide variety of philosophical and literary sources to offer an up-to-date and highly readable study of some major ethical and metaphysical riddles concerning death and dying. (shrink)
The ancient philosophical school of Epicureanism tried to argue that death is "nothing to us." Were they right? James Warren provides a comprehensive study and articulation of the interlocking arguments against the fear of death found not only in the writings of Epicurus himself, but also in Lucretius' poem De rerum natura and in Philodemus' work De morte. These arguments are central to the Epicurean project of providing ataraxia (freedom from anxiety) and therefore central to an understanding of (...) Epicureanism as a whole. They also offer significant resources for modern discussions of the value of death--one which stands at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics. If death is the end of the subject, and the subject can not be benefited nor harmed after death, is it reasonable nevertheless to fear the ceasing-to-be? If the Epicureans are not right to claim that the dead can neither be benefited nor harmed, what alternative models might be offered for understanding the harm done by death and do these alternatives suffer from any further difficulties? The discussion involves consideration of both ethical and metaphysical topics since it requires analysis not only of the nature of a good life but also the nature of personal identity and time. A number of modern philosophers have offered criticisms or defences of the Epicureans' views. Warren explores and evaluates these in the light of a systematic and detailed study of the precise form and intention of the Epicureans' original arguments. Warren argues that the Epicureans also were interested in showing that mortality is not to be regretted and that premature death is not to be feared. Their arguments for these conclusions are to be found in their positive conception of the nature of a good and complete life, which divorce the completeness of a life as far as possible from considerations of its duration. Later chapters investigate the nature of a life lived without the fear of death and pose serious problems for the Epicureans being able to allow any concern for the post mortem future and being able to offer a positive reason for prolonging a life which is already complete in their terms. (shrink)
Well-Being and Death addresses philosophical questions about death and the good life: what makes a life go well? Is death bad for the one who dies? How is this possible if we go out of existence when we die? Is it worse to die as an infant or as a young adult? Is it bad for animals and fetuses to die? Can the dead be harmed? Is there any way to make death less bad for us? (...) Ben Bradley defends the following views: pleasure, rather than achievement or the satisfaction of desire, is what makes life go well; death is generally bad for its victim, in virtue of depriving the victim of more of a good life; death is bad for its victim at times after death, in particular at all those times at which the victim would have been living well; death is worse the earlier it occurs, and hence it is worse to die as an infant than as an adult; death is usually bad for animals and fetuses, in just the same way it is bad for adult humans; things that happen after someone has died cannot harm that person; the only sensible way to make death less bad is to live so long that no more good life is possible. (shrink)
The biophilosophic justification for the idea that “brain death” is death needs to support two claims: that what dies in human death is a human organism, not merely a psychological entity distinct from it; that total brain failure signifies the end of the human organism as a whole. Defenders of brain death typically assume without argument that the first claim is true and argue for the second by defending the “integrative unity” rationale. Yet the integrative unity (...) rationale has fallen on hard times. In this article, I give reasons for why we should think of ourselves as organisms, and why the “fundamental work” rationale put forward by the 2008 President’s Council is better than the integrative unity rationale, despite persistent objections to it. (shrink)
With the help of medicine and technology we are living longer than ever before. As human life spans have increased, the moral and political issues surrounding longevity have become more complex. Should we desire to live as long as possible? What are the social ramifications of longer lives? How does a longer life span change the way we think about the value of our lives and about death and dying? Christine Overall offers a clear and intelligent discussion of the (...) philosophical and cultural issues surrounding this difficult and often emotionally charged issue. Her book is unique in its comprehensive presentation and evaluation of the arguments—both ancient and contemporary—for and against prolonging life. It also proposes a progressive social policy for responding to dramatic increases in life expectancy. Writing from a feminist perspective, Overall highlights the ways that our biases about race, class, and gender have affected our views of elderly people and longevity, and her policy recommendations represent an effort to overcome these biases. She also covers the arguments surrounding the question of the "duty to die" and includes a provocative discussion of immortality. After judiciously weighing the benefits and the risks of prolonging human life, Overall persuasively concludes that the length of life does matter and that its duration can make a difference to the quality and value of our lives. Her book will be an essential guide as we consider our social responsibilities, the meaning of human life, and the prospects of living longer. (shrink)
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.
Fundamental principles : the nature of the dispute -- Types of euthanasia -- Psychiatric assisted suicide -- Neonates -- Incompetent adults -- Human life is sacred -- The slippery slope -- Medical views -- Four methods of easing death and their effect on doctors -- Looking further ahead.