Philosophy and death 2073 Exam notes.pdf

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Western University
Philosophy 2073F/G
Nicholas Mc Ginnis

ANYTHING HIGHLIGHTED IN RED WERE KEY POINTS TO STUDY FOR MY EXAM Phaedo: Philosophers, Death and the Immortality of the Soul Phaedo • Socrates’ execution by hemlock, surrounded by his students • Socrates argues for two major points: 1.the true philosopher has nothing to fear from death 2.the soul is immortal/indestructible How Philosophy Prepares Us for Death • the ideal/true philosopher is not concerned with material matters or physical pleasures • the philosopher frees the soul from association with the body as much as possible (65a) • the senses are inaccurate, and get in the way of true understanding • the soul is at its best when not apart of the soul • if you’ve been prepared for death then you cannot fear it when it arrives • death represents the separating from the body which has been the philosopher’s main concern • death is sort of a purification for the philosopher • thought: is not like matter - anything material is not similar to thought therefore thought is like the soul - you have no reason to doubt the soul - plato needs to prove this in order for philosopher to not fear death Four Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul Argument from Opposites/Cyclical Argument 1.all things have opposites 2.things come to be from opposite states • become awake from being asleep and vise versa 1.for these ways of coming to be, there are opposite process 2.death is the opposite of life 3.there is a process for becoming dead from being alive • there is also a process of becoming alive from death - if there was no process of moving from opposite to opposite the world would eventually become homogenous • if there was no waking up from sleeping everything would be asleep • if there was no coming to life from death everything would eventually be dead Argument of Recollection • offers an explanation for knowledge which is not gained through sense-perception • we recall ideas which we have never been taught and could not be taught • could not have learned them at birth, as we would be learning and forgetting at the same time • must have learned sometime before birth • only possible if there is something that can be learning before birth (living soul) recollection • when we see equal things, something beautiful, something just, etc. we recollect a more perfect form of that quality in which that object partakes (the Form) • we could not recollect the Forms if we had never experienced them, and as they are not sensible, we have never seen them since our birth • we must, therefore, have interacted with the Forms as souls before birth The Affinity Argument 1.there are two kinds/realms of existence: the visible world (the world of sense perception) and the invisible world (Forms which are grasped and understood through the soul) 2.those things in the latter realm are non-composite, indestructible, and deathless 3.the soul is most like those things in the latter realm, the body more like the former • the soul is deathless/indestructible, while the body is capable of being destroyed • things have infinity of life therefore cannot be dead The Final Argument 1.something can never remain itself and become opposite to its own nature or something it contains (cannot be x and not x at the same time; if something is always x it can never be the opposite of x) (cold can never be hot, water cannot be cold and hot at the same time) • it is contrary to the nature of snow to be hot;coldness is a necessary feature of snow 1.the soul always brings life wherever it goes (life is a feature of the soul) • the soul cannot admit death (the soul must always be away from nonexistence) • the soul is deathless and thus immortal • something cannot become its own opposite Lecture 2 Plato to Perry • if we are going to survive death/be immortal/etc it had better be us that survives • perry rejects the idea of the survival of an identical being after death Personal Identity 3 arguments: 1.identity of souls is not sufficient 2.apparent continuity of memory is not sufficient 3.multiple copies argument • survival of death is possible, not certain Identity of the Soul • Miller: the mind/soul survives death - what we are is fundamentally is a soul - it is possible a soul survives death and exists in some heavenly realm after death - since you are the soul, you survive death Rejection of this possibility • we don’t see souls, we see bodies • we have no way of knowing that the body we see contains the same soul that it did the last time we saw it • we are able to recognize people around us and judge that they are the same person we saw previously; identity must consist in something more than identity of souls Continuity of Memory • identity consists in the continuity of memory/consciousness • we are the same person we were in the past because we have the same memories, experiences, etc Memory and Survival • is its possible that there is someone in heaven like you • this person would be you • therefore it is possible to survive death Two-stage Rejection • need to distinguish between apparent and actual memory • someone who appears to remember but hasn’t done them isn’t identical to the person who actually did them • if the heavenly person only appears to have my memories, that person is not me, must actually have my memories The Problem (circular argument) • the person in heaven has my memories because they are me • the person in heaven is me because they have my memories Whats you is a thing that shares your memories and has its memories caused in the appropriate way • causal relation to your actual memories/re caused by your actual memories • god creates the heavenly being with your memories because they were your memories at death • this preserves the proper causal relationship and so the person is you The competition • if god could create one being with my memories he could surely create two • if there are two and they are both identical with me • but this would mean they are identical to each other • so these two people would be one person - this is absurd • identity is only preserved as long as there is no competition • you cease to be identical to yourself if another version of you is created Fission Cases: Parfit’s Teletransporter • intuitions on whether you have died and been replaced are blurry • how do we understand identity (our intuition) if we can be split into two things Davis • temporary disembodiment view of resurrection/identity • humans are neither simply souls nor simply bodies, rather what we are is the conjunction of soul and body • rejects platonic idea that the soul separated from the body - is the true form of the person • the separated soul is some sort of pale imitation of the real individual • soul must recombined with the soul • after death we exist as a disembodied soul • this will eventually be reunited with our earthly body computer experiment • the intuition: it is the same computer in the first case but different in the second (a thing which is like me but composed of different parts than my actual ones will, much like the second computer not me) • problems: • extremely difficult (supposedly) for God to find all the scattered parts of me • constituent parts of me were/will be constituents parts of other people • the parts of me are always changing such that there is no constant set of parts Davis rejection of perry • metaphysical (what stuff is made up by) vs epistemological (how do we know) points • we do not/cannot use identity of souls as evidence for personal identity (epistemological) • does not follow that identity of souls is not what personal identity consists in (metaphysical point) • i dont know if they are identical based on memory • memories of disembodied soul cohere properly with those of the other disembodied souls, this is evidence that these really are my memories • lack of competition is a serious condition for identity What is Death? Pojman & McMahan on Brain Death and Human Death (think about life-support, etc arguments) Pojmans Argument • There are four kinds of death we could consider 1.Loss of soul 2.Cardiopulmonary view 3.Whole brain death 4.Neocortical brain death What Matters for Death? • What is of value to us is our consciousness. If that is permanently gone, then we are dead in any relevant sense • A hunk of flesh without any consciousness, whether the hunk of flesh my consciousness used to control or not, is not me in the relevant way: I am dead • Not relevant whether or not the body still functions in some way • Neocortical brain death represents the permanent loss of consciousness for humans, and so is enough to constitute death Personal or Biological Death? • Pojman admits that we could think of the body as continuing to be alive even when neocortical breath death has occurred • Stages 2 and 3 in the May and Winkler stages of the human organism correspond to this • Pojman suggests that we may need two concepts: “personal death” and “biological death” • ones mental and ones more physical • what matters to us is consciousness death should be associated with the permanent loos for capacity of consciousness • this can occur before the body ceases to function • several concepts: loss of soul, cardiopulmonary view, whole brain death, neocortical brain death McMahan to the Rescue • McMahan agrees with this idea, arguing that personal death and the biological death of an organism can be completely separate events • That is, the person can die while the organism lives on or the organism can die while the person lives on We are not Identical with an/our Organism • If we are identical with our organism, then we begin to exist when the organism does, and cease to exist when it does • This leads to a host of counter-intuitive and problematic conclusions • There seem to be clear times when our organism is alive, but we would want to say that we are not Death and Mental Continuity • If death is “the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness”, we need a solid sense of what is involved in the ceasing to exists/continuing to exist of the mind • Preliminary answer: continued existence of the mind rests in their being enough of the brain/cerebral hemispheres still functioning to allow – at least in principle – the possibility of consciousness • There are several possible ways this can be cached out, depending on our understanding of the brain Personal Identity • McMahan is not arguing that what is necessary for the survival is the continuity/ integrity of certain neurological process of the brain • Would follow from this view that a person with Alzheimer’s would die/cease to exist long before the irreversible loss of consciousness • Would also mean that, in such cases, an entirely new mind in such individuals once the original processes that allowed for continuity are destroyed • McMahan takes both of these to be implausible McMahan’s Ultimate View • In branching/fission cases, identity is not preserved. The original ceases to exist • Otherwise, the two new people would be identical with each other, which is absurd • What is needed for survival then, is the survival of the parts of the brain which allow for consciousness without any branching • He calls this the “Continuity of Mind” account What is Death? • Death of the whole brain is not the right conception of death. The person is dead when this occurs, but they can considered dead under less rigorous circumstance (i.e., the parts of the brain which allow for consciousness being irreversibly damaged/ destroyed) • The brain can still be alive when the cerebral hemispheres are dead, but the person/ capacity for consciousness are not persevered • “Whole brain death” as the criterion for death only arises when we confuse personal and biological death and try to make one condition satisfy both • This view does not amount to biological death; only personal death is (necessarily) brought about by the permanent destruction of capacity for consciousness • So what does this do for our conception of death? Our New Conception of Death • This allows us to think that a person is dead even if their body is still alive • Since what we are concerned with when making moral judgments is persons, and not mere bodies, this has significant impact on the sort of moral questions which we think are relevant to death • Can change our conception of when personal life begins Personal/Biological Death and Moral Issues • For people in persistent vegetative states, we can distinguish between whether or not the person is alive and whether or not the body is alive • This potentially changes what sort of moral obligations we may have to preserve life Vegetative States and Consciousness • Important to note that it does not follow from this that all people in persistent vegetative states are dead as persons • Possible that the capacity for consciousness is preserves • More recently, Adrian Owen’s work has shown that at least some people in what we would consider persistent vegetative states are, in fact, conscious • These individuals are neither personally nor biologically dead on this view. Our moral obligations to them would be the same as our obligations to anyone else What is Death part 2 Lecture 4 The Enigma of Death • Feldman seeks to analyze the concept of death/dying • unlike Pojman/McMahan, Feldman is not seeking to lay out some criterion of death • what is death? not when can we say/how can we know that someone/something has died Death is Univocal • Feldman rejects the idea that death has multiple senses, or that we are talking about a different thing when talking about the death of a person • sees no reason to think that we’re talking about different things when we say that a person, an animal and a plant died The Standard Analysis • x dies at t=dt. x ceases to be alive at t (page 147) • in other words, a thing x dies if it stops living • this serves as the preliminary definition, which Feldman will ultimately reject Perrett’s Analysis • x dies at t=df. x is a living biological organism up to t, but at t, x is destroyed • Feldman thinks this is obviously false • we can kill a thing without destroying/annihilating/disintegrating the organism Back to the Standard Analysis • First problem: Suspended animation • suppose we had the technology to freeze a person, then reanimate them later... • in any important sense, they would no longer be alive once frozen (no thoughts metabolizing, movement, etc.) • still is seems wrong to say that he died when he was frozen, as he was reanimated later • so the first definition must be wrong Second Definition • the problem with the suspended animation case seems to be that the person did not remain non-alive, so... • x dies at t= df. x ceases permanently to be alive at t(page 150) • that is, x dies at the exact moment that x ceases to be alive for the last time More Problems - imagine freeing two people. one is unfrozen without problem, the other is damaged after several years being frozen and it becomes impossible to unfreeze him • in this case, the time that the latter person ceased permanently to be alive was the moment he was frozen (he was never again alive after that time) • Again, it seems implausible to say that that was when he died, and not years later when the damage occurred that made it impossible to revive him • second definition must be wrong Third Definition • x dies at t=df. x ceases permanently and irreversibly to be alive at t (page 151) • WRONG • would mean that the second person never died • didnt cease permanently and irreversibly to be alive when frozen (wasnt irreversible) • didnt cease permanently and irreversibly to be alive when the damage occurred ( didnt cease to be alive at all; he already wasnt) Tweaking definition 3 • x dies at t=dt 1.x ceases permanently to be alive at or before t and t, it becomes physically impossible to x ever to live again • this doesnt work • if the frozen person becomes impossible to reanimate because of external reasons (impossible to get to him, losing the technology, etc.) it seems odd to say that he has died • this is one of the more obvious potential places to push back on Feldman ANOTHER MODIFICATION • x dies at t=df 1.x ceases to be alive at or before t t, internal changes occur in x that make it physically impossible for x ever to live again (page 152) • this seems to handle the various suspended animation problems which have arisen so far Fission Cases • amoeba - splits into two amoebae - it ceases to be alive, and can never be alive again as a result of an internal change, but strange to say that it dies Deathless Escapes from Life • x dies at t=df 1.x ceases to be alive at or before t t, internal changes occur in x that make it physically impossible for x ever to live again is not the case that x turns into another living thing or a bunch of other living things at t (page 153) • but this does seem to get the fission cases right, and all the suspended animation ones Another crack at death 1.x ceases to be alive at or before t t, internal changes occur in x that make it physically impossible for x ever to live again is not the case that x turns into another living thing or a bunch of other living things at t is not the case that x is a member of a set of living things whose members fuse and turn into a living thing at t (page 155) • it covers normal death, suspended animation, fission and fusion definition again see PAGE 157 • is not right • the introduction of the idea of organisms presents problems, especially since we could still deal with ideas of living cells • unclear about difference between deadly and deathless forms of fusion and fission • the basic concept of death isnt that hard to get at: some bio thing has ceased to live, has not entered suspended animation and has not engaged in a deathless form of fission or fusion • getting clear on those last three things, however, is exceedingly difficult, and thats where it becomes very hard to lay out a precise conceptual analysis • the central takeaway is this: saying that something died does not just mean that it has ceased to live. something more is going into it LUCRETIUS: The Badness of Death • central argument: death is nothing to us, we are entirely unaffected by it • We do not experience death - how can something be bad for us if we dont experience it? - it is a mistake to fear death The Metaphysical Side • the mind cant exist independently of the body • the idea of combining something mortal with something immortal is ludicrous The Mind/Soul cant be immortal • anything that exists eternally must be: 1.a solid substance, impervious to all the blows of the natural world 2.immune from blows/intangible, so as to never have anything impact it 3.have no space around them into which the substance can escape/dissolve • the mind/soul is none of those • it experiences the diseases and pains that the body does and is generally affected by the outside world Death is not Bad • since the mind is a mortal thing, and dies along with the rest of us, death is not bad • what we are depends on the mind and body being united, when that is not the case, there is nothing of us to experience being death • we are as unaffected by our own deaths as we were by things that occurred centuries before our births • to suffer any unhappiness/pain/anything else bad in the future. we have to exist to experience it such is not the case with death • in short, we cant be miserable or unhappy when dead why do we think death is bad? • people who fear death or consider death bad are inappropriately imagining themselves as being the thing that rots away and fear that they will experience it • they imagine that when dead we will miss all the things we did when we were alive but this is not the case. we will miss nothing as there will be no experience On Sleep • when we are deeply asleep we experience nothing. we do not miss the things we are experiencing, have worries, feel miserable, etc. • in that state, we may as well remain asleep forever; it would make no difference to your current experienes • it is only upon waking that experience ruses back in Death is like sleep • being dead is like being asleep and never waking up there is no experience no sensation no anything else • there is even less going on in death than in sleep and we never need to worry about waking up from it • if sleep is of no concern to us because we do not experience it so to is death On Prolonged Life • if your life has gone well you should be satisfied • past a certain point there are no more pleasures to be had, nothing else to experience and so we should accept the end of that • if your life has gone poorly, then you should anticipate the future being the same, and should welcome and end to that • death is not bad for us • being dead is not something that happens to us/not something that is experienced • you will never experience being dead Nagel and Silverstein: The Evil of Death Nagel: • argues against the idea that death cannot be considered to be bad for the person who dies • thinks we actually can consider death to be bad for the deal • two arguments; 1. life is good can regard a loss of possibilities as evil Preliminary work • they are not concerned with: 1. whether or bot we are/can be immortal or whether or not we can survive death 2. whether or not a person’s death can be bad for someone who is not them • life is emphatically positive (178) - if death is bad it cant be because of any positive qualities (it has none) Why Nagel doesnt care about surviving death • if some conscious thing survives death, then what has occurred is not the sort of death with which we are concerned • Nagel cares about permanent death, that is, the absolute and final death of a person • in cases of resurrection/life after death, this condition is not satisfied • roughly the idea is that the person has not died but rather gone from one form of life to another • what we are concerned with is whether the sort of permanent lack of any experience described by Lucretius can be bad Life is Good • there are events which someone can experience which will make their lives better and some which will make their lives worse • if we take all these experiences and set them aside however what we are left with are constitutive elements of human life (perception, desire, thought, etc) • these things are “formidable benefits in themselves” - assertion (no proof), • so independent of all experiences, life is good - not merely neutral - and remains good even if the bad experiences outweigh the good ones Life • life and its value applies to more than just survival of an organism • more is better than less life - more positive experiences Locating the Badness of Death: • it is not the case, however, that more death is worse than less death • death is defined as a negative state: the loss/lack/privation of life, rather than a positive experience of being dead • i.e. deaths badness stems from a lack of the further good of more life, not a continuous extension of positive badness for every day dead • dying is also not the problem. our only problem with dying is that it ends with death • badness of death also does not come from worries about an extended period of nonexistence: we’re okay (mostly) with the idea of cryogenic freezing Locating the Badness of Death • Badness of death, then, must rest on the deprivation/loss of good/desirable/positive possible occurrences Problems with this approach: • Nagel identifies 3 potential problems 1.not clear that anything can be bad for a person without being actually unpleasant to them is not clear that the badness of death can be assigned to any particular subject 3.why is it bad to die if it is not bad to not yet be born First Argument to the approach: • imagine someone who is betrayed by friends, mocked behind back, etc., but never finds out about it • if something has to be experienced as unpleasant to be bad for someone, we would have to say that this experience is not bad for him • this would mean that betrayal and such are bad because of the suffering the people experience by learning about them • a more plausible view seems to hold that learning of betrayal causes us to suffer because it is bad to be betrayed therefore an evil does not need to be experienced as an evil in order for it to be unfortunate,bad, etc. Second Argument to the approach: • we can understand good and ill occurrences as happening to a person located in a particular point in time, but do not need to think of those occurrences as occurring in a particular place and time • this is laid out by the example of the intelligent person who suffers a traumatic brain injury • the person who is currently living the life of a contented infant is not (necessarily) unfortunate; he is by hypothesis perfectly content • the unfortunate one is the formerly intelligent person who has been brought to this state why: we consider who the person was before, and who/what they could have been, as compared to what they are now - the view that it is not bad because he does not experience it as bad (the parallel to the view that death is not bad) comes from focusing too exclusively on the present state, rather than taking into account curtailed possibilities. - people have possibilities. things they can experience, accomplish, hopes that can be fulfilled, etc. death cuts these off - were a recently dead man not to have died, he would still be living and experiencing new possibilities locating the subject: this does not mean that there needn’t be some person who suffers the misfortune - there must be some individual to be located who suffers the loss Third Argument to the approach: • there is no subject experiencing the loss • similarly, anything born a significant period before a given person would/could not have been the same person • so whenever a persons birth occurs it does not represent the loss of any life to that person Death is bad • once an identifiable individual exists (is born) a variety of possibilities for their future always exist • death cuts off these possibilities and so cuts off the possibility of further good Nagel Undermines his own argument • it is natural for humans to die in fact it is natural for us to die within a relatively fixed period of time (somewhere under 100 years) • yet it seems odd to say that something which is a natural state for a creature is somehow an unfortunate event • not unfortunate for a mole rats to be blind for example Silverstein: why Nagel is wrong • the standard argument focuses on the badnes of death as the lack of a positive good • for this to be relevant to the problem posed by Epicurus, it has to be read as what silverstein calls life-death comparative • Nagel: A’s life is good for A - this is irrelevant • to be relevant the claim has to be read as A’s life is better for A than As death is good for A • but since A is dead and thus nonexistent the value of his death cannot be meaningfully compared to the value of his life - this is gibberish the problem: • nagel and company seem to conflate silversteins s3 with his s4 • s3 is perfectly intelligible and s4 is relevant to the epicurean dilemma but neither one has both qualities • for s4 to be taken to be intelligible we would be begging the question against epicurus Silversteins Argument - atemporal account • nagel’s argument against lucretius begs the question • it is a mistake to think of temporally distant events as being any different from spatially distant events • our way of speaking doesnt make sense if we think temporal distance is somehow different • the view that death is not bad is based on the assumption that the value relative to a person must take place in a time that is prior to that persons death • thinks this can be rejected rejecting temporality • the rejection winds up hinging on the principle that values connect with feelings • Nagel has attempted to reject this entirely but he seems to succeed only against an extremely implausible versio
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