Home > Philosophy > QotD: After Death, Then What?

QotD: After Death, Then What?

What do you think happens to you after you die?

I’ll be honest. I’m an outright materialist. So it should come as no surprise that I don’t think humans are constituted by an immaterial soul. But I’m not saying quite enough at this point to distinguish myself from other non-materialist positions because there are Christians who are also materialists with regards to human persons and yet nonetheless metaphysical non-materialists. Such Christians do not believe in an immaterial soul but they do think there is an afterlife, a material afterlife in which we have the same body (or a copy of the same body) as the one we do now. It’s a rather unorthodox position (in theological circles…although it is becoming more and more common among academics) and a position with many difficulties, one of those being the problem of identity, which I will not get into. Needless to say, materialist Christians (and theists in general) think there is an afterlife because there is a God who can make this happen. Being a wholesale materialist, this is where we part ways. Without God or any such supernatural force, the only plausible answer to this question would seem to be one that does not include an afterlife. We seize to exist once our material properties stop functioning in the proper way.

Bertrand Russell once summed it up this way:

But in the present state of psychology and physiology, belief in immortality can, at any rate, claim no support from science, and such arguments as are possible on the subject point to the probable extinction of personality at death.

In other words, both empirical and a priori considerations do not seem to be in its favor. For an incredibly enjoyable, enlightening, and very short introduction to this subject, check out philosopher John Perry’s A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality.

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