The Survival of Death
Feldman (Fred)
Source: Feldman - Confrontations with the Reaper, Chapter 6
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract1

  1. When Hamlet says, "To be or not to be, that is the question," he really means "To die or not to die, that is the question." .Hamlet apparently supposes that when a living thing dies, it stops existing – it ceases to be. Very many philosophers agree.
  2. But this "termination thesis" blatantly conflicts with some obvious facts. There actually exist very many dead bodies. Each of these formerly was alive. Hence these seem to be things that died but did not cease to exist.
  3. In Chapter 6, "The Survival of Death2," I try to unravel this conceptual tangle.


The Termination Thesis [89]
  1. For people:
      TTp: If a person dies at a time, then he or she ceases to exist at that time.
  2. Difference between simply ceasing to exist and ceasing to exist as something or other.
  3. Terminators believe that when a person dies, he or she simply ceases to exist.
  4. Feldman is a survivalist.

Some Philosophers Who Have Accepted the Termination Thesis [91]
  1. Epicurus: "death is nothing to us" because "when death comes, then we do not exist"
  2. Lucretius: Follower of Epicurus, dualist (more on him below)
  3. Peter Dalton: "When a man is dead he no longer exists and will never again exist"
  4. Roy Perrett: appears to ascribe to a broader, biological termination thesis:
    • TTo: If a biological organism dies at a time, then it simply ceases to exist at that time.
      This could be generalized even further:
    • TTu: If a living thing dies at a time, then it simply ceases to exist at that time.
  5. Jay Rosenberg: on Aunt Ethel:
    There is no one thing which both died last week and will be buried tomorrow. What died last week was Aunt Ethel. What will be buried tomorrow, however, is not Aunt Ethel but rather Aunt Ethel’s remains. What will be buried tomorrow is a corpse4, Aunt Ethel’s corpse5. But a corpse6 is not a person. Aunt Ethel’s corpse7 is not Aunt Ethel.

Doubts About the Termination Thesis [93]
The Argument from Definition [96]
The Argument from Dualism [97]
Corpses11 and People [100]
Death and Nonexistence As [104]
  1. While it is TRUE that when a living thing dies it ceases to exist as a living thing and when a psychological person dies it ceases to exist as a PP, living things just are certain kinds of material objects which (generally) continue to exist after death (this is most obviously true in things like dead trees: the tree is obviously still there – it’s just dead).
  2. GOOD NEWS: most of us will survive death
  3. BAD NEWS: we will still be dead.
    • "We will just be corpses13."
    • "Such survival may be of very little value" [duh!]

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from "Feldman (Fred) - Introduction: Confronting the Reaper".

Footnote 3: Taken from "Cushing (Simon) - Fred Feldman: Confrontations with the Reaper".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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