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Lecture

the meaning of death


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL281H1
Professor
Donald Ainslie

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Bioethics Reading & Lecture October 20th
The meaning of death
Death is nothing to us once it is appreciated that the mind has a mortal
nature
When we will no longer exist following the severing of the soul and
body, nothing will be able to affect us and to stir our sensation
Even if the nature of our mind and power of our spirit do not have
sensation after theyre torn from our bodies, that is still nothing to us
who are constituted by the conjunction of body and spirit
Suppose that after our death, time will bring our matter back together
and reconstitute it in its present arrangement, and the light of life will
be restored to us
But our selves which existed in the past dont concern us now
If you look back in time and reflect how primary particles which we
now consist of have often been rearranged in the same order; yet our
minds cannot remember it
If there is going to be unhappiness and suffering, the person must also
himself exist at that same time, for the evil to be able to befall him
When immortal death snatches away a mortal life, it is no different
from never having been born
When you see a man resent the prospect of his body being buried and
rotting after death, or being destroyed in a fire, …?
Instead of completely stripping himself of life, he is unconsciously
making some bit of himself survive
When anybody in life imagines that in death the birds and beasts will
rip his body up, he pities himself
He does not distinguish himself from it or adequately detach himself
from the
Lecture
Death
An infant sometimes lacks a self-awareness
As you mature, you become to recognize and understand your position
– we realize we have a life and that we will die
Abortion discussion was also about death in a way: the death of the
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fetus
Because fetus is not yet the subject of experiences, we did not focus on
the inner world of the one dying
As we mature, we come to recognize our mortality
What should we make of it for ourselves?
Does death harm or benefit us? What is it to relation to the personal
value of our life? [Dworkin calls this thepersonal value’]
Some Cases
Someone in severe pain which cannot be lessened, or can only be
lessened in such a way that she is left in a stupor
oDeath good or bad? Good
A university student who has justset out in life
oDeath benefit or harm? Harm/Bad
A 90 year-old who has had a family and/or career, and has been a
success at both; but shes ready to die
Dworkin says its a shame that that person is gone, but its up to them
A university student who has beendumped’ by his girlfriend, leaving
him ready to die
A 90 year old man, who has just married for the first time [say a 25
year old woman] and just started to build a family, after devoting many
years to his career
A 50 year old, former television executive, who has had a severe
accident, which has left her with the mind of a 3 year old. Shes
happy- as a three year old, though
A woman has a fairly normal life – a family, career, etc – but while her
husband and eventually her children, grow old and die around her, she
just continues to get older, up to the age of 110 and beyond
Lucretius
Roman philosopher, c. 98-55 BC
Famous philosophical poem, de Rerum Nature, [on the nature of
things]
Follower of Epicurus [who is one of the founders of school of
philosophy which followed on Plato and Aristotle]
He is famous for the quote that death is nothing to us
You are neither benefited nor harmed if you die
You shouldnt fear or welcome death
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