PHILOS 1E03 Lecture Notes - Ataraxia, Thomas Nagel, Epicurus

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
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Lecture 4
Death
-Is death an evil?
-Epicurus
-Nagel
-Williams
-Afterlife is not the issue, we’re discussing absolute extinction – ceasing to exist
-can be a bad for loved ones, however focus will be on whether it is good or bad for
the person dying’s perspective.
Epicurus (341-270 BCE)
-view is that death not good nor bad, it is a matter of difference for the person that
dies
-eg. While someone can hate or like the NHL lockout, one can be indifferent
-One shouldn’t care, not have positive or negative position, about death
-even though it’s a significant event that everyone experiences
-What epicurus thought was good and bad
-only good-pleasure, bad-pain
-Thus when one dies, they no longer experience pain nor pleasure, and death is
neither good nor bad
-death is a state of extinction, you’d only be ashes, thus no pain/pleasure
-only matter of indifference
Objection
-Even if we accept that death is neither pleasurable or painful doesn’t it deprive us
of the ability to experience additional pleasures?
-Insofar as death deprives us of something good, isn’t it a bad thing?
-If one is extinction, one is no longer there to be deprived of either pleasure or pain
(you don’t know that you’re deprived thus not really deprived)
-this argument is valid doesn’t seem very realistic
-the person dying doesn’t know they’re being deprived, however everyone
from the outside perspective can see what one is being deprived as.
Kinetic vs. Static Pleasure
-Kinetic: Pleasure which arouses sense and produces agreeable sensations in us
-Pleasure of eating, drinking, sex, etc
-Static: The pleasure one feels when all pain has been removed
-The pleasure of not feeling hungry, thirsty, etc
-Static pleasure is greater than kinetic pleasure, because most examples of kinetic
pleasure are used to achieve static pleasure
Mental Pleasure and Pain
-Mental Pain: Regret (past), fear (present/future)
-Mental Kinetic Pleasure: Listening to music, discussing philosophy, etc
-Mental Static Pleasure: Ataraxia
-Freedom from pain in the mind
-Tranquility, peace of mind
Ataraxia
-fear of God and fear of death are barriers to achieving peace of mind
Epicurius: God exists, but he doesn’t care about humans
Fear of Death is Groundless
-Death is nothing to us. For when we are, death is not. And when death is, we are
not.
-we never exist alongside death, therefore we can’t experience pain nor
pleasure
-death is not something to be feared
Objection
-Even if we accept that death is neither pleasurable or painful, doesn’t it deprive us
of the ability to experience additional pleasures?
-Insofar as death deprives us of something good, isn’t it a bad thing?
No: Living longer will not make the experience of ataraxia better or more
pleasurable
-Living longer wont make it better because, it doesn’t improve over time,
ataraxia is an absolute.
-The attempt to enjoy ataraxia as long as possible causes us to lose peace of mind,
because we start to fear losing ataraxia, thus no longer in a state of ataraxia.
Thomas Nagel (1937-)
-Believes death is a bad thing, only because it deprives us of life,
-not intrinsically bad
Central Issue
-Is death a bad thing for the person that dies
-death is a good thing
-death is neither good nor bad
-death a bad thing
Is Death Intrinsically Bad?
-If death is bad, it can either be intrinsically bad or bad because it deprives us of
something good (namely, life)
-Nagel thinks death is not intrinsically bad
-intrinsically bad -> bad in itself
-Death is indirectly bad because while death isn’t intrinsically bad, death
causes deprivation of life, thus death is bad
Death is not intrinsically bad Argument UNO
-If death were intrinsically bad, then it would be worse to be dead for a long time
than for a short time
-But this is not the case
Death is not Intrinsically Bad Argument DOS
-If death were intrinsically bad, then being dead temporarily would be a bad thing
-But this is not the case
Death is not Intrinsically Bad Argument TRES
-If not existing because you are dead were thought to be intrinsically bad, then not
existing because you have not yet been born should be regarded as intrinsically bad
-But this is not the case
The Badness of Death
-Death is bad because and only because it deprives us of life
-But this argument only works if life is always good
Value of Life
-Life has value over and about the experiences one has in one’s life
-Good experiences make a life better and bad experiences make it worse
-But the experience of being alive is not neutral
-The ability to experience has value over and above the goodness/badness of
the things experience
Immortality
-What is Nagel’s view of the value of everlasting life (personal immortality)?
-The ability to experience everlasting life is intrinsically good even if the
experiences in that life are bad
Objection 1 What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You
-Does a person who never becomes aware of their bad condition really suffer a
misfortune?
-When we are dead, we are not aware that we have been deprived of life
-Because we are not aware of it, we do not suffer
-consequently death is not a misfortune
However
-We do not have to experience a misfortune to suffer a misfortune
-A person reduced to a state of a contented infant doesn’t experience a misfortune
-But he/she still suffered one
Objection 2 When Death is We Are Not

Document Summary

Afterlife is not the issue, we"re discussing absolute extinction ceasing to exist. Can be a bad for loved ones, however focus will be on whether it is good or bad for the person dying"s perspective. View is that death not good nor bad, it is a matter of difference for the person that dies. One shouldn"t care, not have positive or negative position, about death. Thus when one dies, they no longer experience pain nor pleasure, and death is neither good nor bad. Death is a state of extinction, you"d only be ashes, thus no pain/pleasure. If one is extinction, one is no longer there to be deprived of either pleasure or pain (you don"t know that you"re deprived thus not really deprived) Eg. while someone can hate or like the nhl lockout, one can be indifferent. Even though it"s a significant event that everyone experiences. This argument is valid doesn"t seem very realistic.