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PHIL 201 (20)
James Scow (11)

nagel on death as an evil

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Virginia Commonwealth University
PHIL 201
James Scow

11/21/13 Nagel Death is an evil. He immediately recognizes that we don’t experience death. We see it, but we don’t experience it ourselves. So we kinda know it in an indirect way. We know it means an end to a life. There is an asymmetry from life and death. Were familiar with life in that way, but not with death. We’ve lived life, but we don’t experience death. Religious--Many people deal with death by defining that it isn’t a final thing. Maybe in part to make you feel better about death and about your existence. But were thinking about death in terms of what it very well could be. It could be an absolute end. Because most of us still value life as a good thing, then we view death as a bad thing. Because we don’t want it to end. Every morning you wake up and still look forward to more possibilities and more things to look forward to. You still look positively about life even when you are very old. The point he makes at the end is, because you enjoy life, death is an evil because you are being denied the continuation of life. There is a kind of loss. A loss of possibilities. What exactly makes life a life-experiences, memories, all the wonderful things about life. When he talks about death he says we don’t experience it we just know it to be the end of life. The objections to this view-they come from an important school of philosophy— went on for 6/7 centuries. Epicurianism—founded. Then romans picked it up. For saying death should not be regarded as an evil. Based on their metaphysics. The parts of your body when you die dispurse, and you no longer exist. So it didn’t make sense to be conserned about death, its completely over when death occurs. P. 972- 973. For something to be evil you have to experience it in a negative way. A pain or an anxiety. But we cant call it an evil if it isn’t experienced as an evil. Death is not an experience. You might experience dying. Second argument is saying that it doesn’t make sense to speak about something as an evil for an individual when the individual is no longer. So not about the experience of the individual, but the existence of the individual. Third argument is the one from Lucretius—he said that it doesn’t make sense to be regretting your death to wish you could live longer. When you don’t have that attitude about birth, so youd be saying gee I wish I
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