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Recipes for Immortality
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Email Address. Enter the code as shown below:. Send message Please wait Copy Event URL. Events are social. Allow Facebook friends to see your upcoming events? Consequently, practical reason demands this postulate. There seems to be a crucial disharmony between the premises of the second and the third arguments.
Only at first in the second but throughout the third, Kant apparently wanted to insist that the ideals prescribed by practical reason must be practically and not just theoretically possible. Surely, it is merely the contingent weakness of the flesh that makes holiness something "of which no rational being in the world of sense is at any time capable," whereas if the theoretical possibility of achieving the necessary correspondence was all that was at stake, there would be no call "to assume the actual existence of God.
This is fatal. If it is once allowed that an imperative can be to get as near as is humanly possible to an ideal that may be practically — even theoretically — unattainable, then the whole foundation of both arguments collapses.
Chapter 11: Immortality
For such more modest demands could be satisfied in an earthly lifetime and without benefit of God. Three general points about the Kantian arguments should be particularly noted. First, that the cases for the second and for the third postulate are separate. Second, Kant scrupulously avoided any suggestion that the authority of the moral law is at all dependent on the availability, here or hereafter, of rewards and punishments.
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Third, Kant was careful not to make the mistake of trying to deduce what is the case from premises affirming only what ought to be. It is not often that any of these things can be said for some more popular arguments for immortality. For instance, it is often urged — most commonly, perhaps, in Roman Catholic textbook apologetic but elsewhere, too — that the lack of appropriate rewards and punishments would make nonsense of the claims of morality. Thus, the Jesuit M. Maher wrote:. But in the judgement that conduct entailing a sacrifice ought to be pursued, there is implied a further judgement that it cannot be ultimately worse for the agent himself to do that which is right.
Rational Psychology , London, , p. Maher proceeded to argue that God could not permit this and, therefore, that there must be immortality, with penalties and compensations. He himself believed that the existence of God is independently established by natural theology p. It is interesting to compare the distress of Henry Sidgwick , who saw the moral situation similarly but was unable to share the supposedly saving religious convictions Methods of Ethics , London, , especially Part IV, Ch. Even if it were to be allowed that some such view is correct, it certainly does not warrant the suggested conclusions.
Suppose we allow that rewards and penalties are indeed morally necessary; at most, this could support a demand not for immortality but for a temporary survival. Nothing has been said in the premises to explain why these necessary rewards and penalties have to be eternal. Indeed, to the secular moralist, to whom no revelation has been vouchsafed, it might seem that to provide eternal penalties for temporal offenses would be to make the universe infinitely worse. More generally, it is essential to insist that no argument from purely gerundive premises — stating only what ought to be or what is in some other way desirable — can by itself either establish or make probable any conclusion about what is actually the case.
Compare J. In any case it is certainly no part of the meaning of moral obligation that the obligation must always accord with the eventual self-interest or the person obliged. The sense in which categorical imperatives can be characterized as essentially rational refers to their universality and impartiality rather than to any implication that obedience must always be ultimately the best-paying policy. If anything, surely, it is part of the very idea of morality that sacrifices are sometimes required.
Many other arguments have been and are put forward. It is urged, for instance, that the allegedly almost universal belief in survival is somehow evidence of its own truth, a contention rejected by J. Mill for the decisive reason that to urge this is not to offer a good ground but, rather, if anything, to concede tacitly that there is none.
Aeon for Friends
Again, attempts have been made by Dugald Stewart , for instance to make something of the allegedly almost universal desire for immortality or of the existence of human potentialities that cannot be realized in a mere three score years and ten. If the existence of a desire really were a reason for affirming not merely, as perhaps it is, that this desire has some describable object but also, as it manifestly is not, that this object must actually be realized, then the argument could still be refuted by the consideration — pressed by Hume in his essay "Immortality" — that the certainly no less nearly universal fear of annihilation equally demands its real object.
Of course, the existence of a desire for immortality, where it is found, does call for — and can easily be given — a naturalistic explanation. Such a desire, however, begins to be useful to the advocate of immortality only insofar as it can be used in conjunction with some idea of a God who may be relied on to arrange for the ultimate fulfillment of some of? The qualification "some of" has, presumably, to be put in to allow for the existence of ambivalent and evil desires; the "some more of" is needed if we are to have an argument that even appears to hold.
To consider the possibility of establishing the existence of such a God is beyond the scope of this article. Yet it is perhaps worth suggesting that the existence of these ostensibly frustrated wholesome desires and these apparently unfulfilled splendid potentialities must, by itself, count as evidence against, rather than for, the existence of this kind of God.
Immortality | philosophy and religion | lolisnecontsos.gq
It is, as Hume insisted both in his Dialogues and in the first Enquiry , very odd — notwithstanding that it is very common — to argue from what in themselves would have to be rated as defects of the familiar world to the conclusion that this world is the work of a being without defect, who will in the future make good all present deficiencies.
Philosophers opposed to the belief in immortality have generally confined their case to attacking weaknesses in the arguments thought up by immortalists. But some have also advanced arguments intended to show that human beings do not survive the death of their bodies. Thus, in the essay mentioned above Hume was not satisfied with pointing out the flaws in the metaphysical and the moral arguments for immortality but urged a number of considerations "from the analogy of nature" in favor of "the mortality of the soul. The most popular and impressive of these is what may be called the "body-mind dependence argument," an argument that, according to its more recent exponents, has received powerful confirmation from modern brain research.
Bertrand Russell wrote,. We know that the brain is not immortal, and that the organized energy of a living body becomes, as it were, demobilized at death and therefore not available for collective action. All the evidence goes to show that what we regard as our mental life is bound up with brain structure and organized bodily energy. Therefore it is rational to suppose that mental life ceases when bodily life ceases. The argument is only one of probability, but it is as strong as those upon which most scientific conclusions are based. Philosophers in the Hume-Russell tradition have also generally insisted that in the case of immortality the onus of proof must lie entirely with the believers.
In their view it is quite wrong that we start with an open question. As this article urged at the beginning, the familiar facts of life and death establish an overwhelming presumption of mortality. Given these facts and the fact that person words mean what they do mean, there are massive philosophical obstacles to be overcome before the question of a future life can be shown to be sufficiently open to leave any room at all for appeals to evidence or even to faith.
Of course, there is nothing to stop anyone from giving what sense he likes to the expression "disembodied person.
In their present senses person words have logical liaisons of the very greatest human importance. Personal identity in the present sense is the necessary condition of both accountability and expectation. This is only to say that it is unjust to reward or punish someone for something unless, as a minimum condition, he is the same person who did the deed and that it is absurd to expect things to happen to me in unless, as a minimum condition, there is going to be a person in existence in who will be the same person as I.
The difficulty is to change the use of person words so radically that it becomes significant to talk of people's surviving dissolution without changing it in such a way that these crucial logical liaisons must be broken. If this difficulty cannot be overcome — and there seems little reason to think that it can — then the apocalyptic words of the early Wittgenstein are to the point: "Our life is endless as the visual field is without limit.
Death is not an event in life. For a massive survey of the history of the doctrine of immortality, see W. For surveys of particular aspects of the doctrine, consult the bibliography of Antony Flew, ed. The sources for the views given in the text are cited there. Leckie in St. Hay II, revised by John H. Randall Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Moses Mendelssohn 's Phaedon Berlin, is a famous dialogue on immortality that consciously imitates Plato's Phaedo. Beck Chicago: University of Chicago Press, For C.
Pringle-Pattison, The Idea of Immortality Oxford: Clarendon Press, , holds that if there is personal immortality, it is not the inherent possession of every human soul but must be won by continual effort. A negative position similar to that presented in this article is found in C. Broad's The Mind and Its Place in Nature London: Kegan Paul, , though somewhat dated, is perhaps the most valuable work on the problem of mind and body so crucial to the question of immortality. In Section D, Broad argues against the moral argument for immortality. The source of the discussion of personal identity is Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding , edited by A.
Frazer, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, , Vol. II, Ch. For the contributions of Butler, Hume, and Reid and for later works on this topic, see the bibliography of the Personal Identity entry. The classic parapsychological study of immortality is F.
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See also Ducasse , op. Broad , op. For the investigations of psychical researchers into the nature of the experiences of spirits, see, for instance, G.