Death and Immortality: Introduction
Perrett (Roy W.)
Source: Perrett - Death and Immortality - 1987, Introduction
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  1. Schopenhauer writes that without death there would hardly have been any philosophizing. For this to be plausible it would have to be added that death is most often the unconscious muse of philosophy; certainly it is difficult to see much contemporary professional philosophy as standing squarely within the Socratic tradition Schopenhauer here alludes to. This work, however, is self-avowedly inspired by death. It discusses a number of philosophical problems of death and immortality; particularly certain questions in metaphysics, ethics and philosophy of religion which naturally arise from philosophical reflection upon these matters. However since philosophical concepts and arguments are embedded in a network of other concepts and arguments, the inquiry sometimes involves both the consideration of issues in other areas of philosophy (including epistemology and metaphilosophy) and in areas other than philosophy (including literature, theology and religious studies).
  2. Concern with death and immortality is, of course, universal and hence the literature is enormous. Obviously I could not discuss everything, even if per impossibile I had read it all. The principles governing my choice of material are largely generated by the philosophical style I work in, i.e. the style of the analytic tradition that dominates contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. Thus although the great Western philosophers are often mentioned, their positions receive little historical attention. Similarly, except for a brief reference to Heidegger, I do not discuss recent Continental philosophers at all. Rather I usually prefer to develop positions with particular reference to contemporary discussions in the analytic tradition. This is not because I believe that the great figures of the past have nothing to say to us on these issues; nor do I mean to denigrate recent Continental contributions. However this work is primarily conceived of as an attempt to demonstrate the relevance of the methods of analytic philosophy for traditional philosophical concerns about death and immortality. Until quite recently many analytic philosophers too often regarded such concerns as falling outside of the competence of philosophy. Fortunately there are now signs of an increasing openness to such questions among more and more philosophers within the analytic tradition. This work is an attempt to foster this trend. Of course, there is a danger that the constraints thus imposed upon the inquiry will render the resulting work too parochial. I have deliberately attempted to rectify any such tendency to narrowness by introducing some sorts of relevant material from outside of the usual ambit of analytic philosophy. In particular, I not only discuss literary and theological works, but I also give detailed consideration to concepts and arguments drawn from the Indian philosophical tradition. My aim is to show both that such material has important insights to contribute and also that it is in fact amenable to rigorous examination.
  3. It will perhaps be convenient before we begin the inquiry proper to offer an outline of the overall structure of the argument. Briefly, this work divides into two parts:
    • The first part discusses philosophical problems about death that arise for everyone, regardless of his or her stance on immortality;
    • The second part focuses on the notion of immortality and the major traditional accounts of this.

Comment:

Photocopy of complete Book filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 14 (P)".



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