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Books > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Philosophy > 0199982503
  1. Death and the Afterlife
    Death and the Afterlife
    Death and the Afterlife
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  2. Death and the Afterlife

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (17 reviews)
    Price R529.00

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Suppose you knew that, though you yourself would live your life to its natural end, the earth and all its inhabitants would be destroyed thirty days after your death. To what extent would you remain committed to your current projects and plans? Would scientists still search for a cure for cancer? Would couples still want children?

In Death and the Afterlife, philosopher Samuel Scheffler poses this thought experiment in order to show that the continued life of the human race after our deaths--the "afterlife" of the title--matters to us to an astonishing and previously neglected degree. Indeed, Scheffler shows that, in certain important respects, the future existence of people who are as yet unborn matters more to us than our own continued existence and the continued existence of those we love. Without the expectation that humanity has a future, many of the things that now matter to us would cease to do so. By contrast, the prospect of our own deaths does little to undermine our confidence in the value of our activities. Despite the terror we may feel when contemplating our deaths, the prospect of humanity's imminent extinction would pose a far greater threat to our ability to lead lives of wholehearted engagement. Scheffler further demonstrates that, although we are not unreasonable to fear death, personal immortality, like the imminent extinction of humanity, would also undermine our confidence in the values we hold dear. His arresting conclusion is that, in order for us to lead value-laden lives, what is necessary is that we ourselves should die and that others should live.

Death and the Afterlife concludes with commentary by four distinguished philosophers--Harry Frankfurt, Niko Kolodny, Seana Shiffrin, and Susan Wolf--who discuss Scheffler's ideas with insight and imagination. Scheffler adds a final reply.

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Samuel Scheffler
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This well-written, short book purports to be a contribution to a theory of value. Scheffler asks us to imagine as a thought-experiment two grim scenarios and then asks us to think about how these possibilities would affect the way we think about what we value or, as he says more often, "what matters to us." The two scenarios involve a world without a human future, the "afterlife" of the title being the continued life of the human race (a communal afterlife) and not the "personal afterlife" that some religious traditions offer. Scheffler is not interested in the latter possibility. The two scenarios are "The doomsday scenario" --"Suppose you knew that, although you yourself would live a normal life span, the earth would be completely destroyed thirty days after your death in a collision with a giant asteroid" (18) -- and "the infertility scenario" -- everyone alive now would live out his or her normal life span, but in a world where... Read more
Do we measure our life and value it only by what we experience and expect to experience? Do we feel the loss of life only because we miss being around, either with our friends or by ourselves? Thus Scheffler poses apt questions that make us ponder what really matters to us on the assumption that we have no afterlife to distract us. These are questions that compels us to assess the difference between a thing of value and a valuable thing. We are led to ponder what the incentives are for people to want to give up their lives for others.

Several other contributors including Harry Frankfurt and Susan Wolf comment on Scheffler's work and Scheffler, in turn, presents his rejoinder to those comments.
Death and the Afterlife introduces an original vvay of thinking about life after vve are gone, (original to me, at least as a non-academic philosopher.) I recommend it- thought provoking and free of the sentimentalizing thinking usually associated vvith the subject of the afterlife......I applaud the decision to include several essays by fellovv philosophers, revievving and criticizing the author's conclusions.
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