Death and Philosophy

By Jeff Malpas; Robert C. Solomon | Go to book overview

13

THE ANTINOMY OF DEATH 1

Peter Loptson

Some of the phenomena that our lives present to us pose themselves as problems or challenges to make sense of, and to fold into a coherent overall conception of our identities and our possibilities. These challenges may be personal, and parts of endeavours to arrive at a life-mode that may be as satisfactory as life circumstances permit. And they may be conceptual and theoretical, parts of attempts to devise a unified ontological and normative conception of what it is to be a human being. For the philosophical mind they may—arguably, should—be both. An obvious salient such challenge is posed by the ineluctable fact of our deaths. The present paper argues that two independent lines of thinking about death combine to produce a kind of antinomy: they box the attempt to understand the significance of death into a kind of corner from which no adequate emergence seems possible.

On the one hand death is a genuine evil and a tragedy. Arguments for these old views are set out, and reconsidered and defended in partly novel ways. 2 The tragedy of death is masked by the accommodations to death that different kinds of philosophy, allegedly hardheaded common sense, and—probably—natural selection itself have produced. These accommodations can be unmasked. When they are, the irredeemable badness of the deaths of human beings confronts us remorselessly. On the other hand human beings are not designed for literal immortality, i.e. a literally unending condition of having experiences. It is probable that no prosthetic revision or extension of the human system could be devised, in a world with our natural laws, that could preserve the experiential unity of a (human) self for more than a handful of (not significantly interrupted) centuries, at most. Eventually, in a very finite number of years—even if it were thousands—human information storage capacity, and anything resembling what we know or can imagine as a coherent and unified life of a person, would disintegrate. Eventually a later self, if there were one, would be effectively indistinguishable from a numerically distinct person. This supposed immortality would be hardly different, ontologically and axiologically, from achieving an alleged immortality through one’s descendants.

Yet this reality does not ‘solve’ the problem and the tragedy of death. The extinction of the human experience machine, whenever it occurs, and whether

-135-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Death and Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Death and Philosophy 1
  • 2 - My Death 5
  • 3 - Against Death 16
  • 4 - On the Purported Insignificance of Death 22
  • 5 - Death and the Skeleton 39
  • 6 - Death, the Bald Scenario 50
  • 7 - Death as Transformation in Classical Daoism 57
  • 8 - Death and Enlightenment 71
  • 9 - Death and Detachment 83
  • 10 - Death and Metaphysics 98
  • 11 - Death and Authenticity 112
  • 12 - Death and the Unity of a Life 120
  • 13 - The Antinomy of Death 135
  • 14 - Death Fetishism, Morbid Solipsism 152
  • Notes 177
  • References 198
  • Index 203
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 212

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.