Merely mortal?: can you survive your own death?

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Prometheus Books, Publishers, 2000 - Philosophy - 200 pages
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These words, written by the Anglican Bishop Joseph Butler, concisely summarize the crux of the problem tackled by renowned philosopher Antony Flew in this profoundly thoughtful book. Despite the perennial hope of life beyond the grave, Flew shows that there are insuperable difficulties in elucidating postmortem survival on a rational basis. He analyzes the three ways that philosophers of the past have attempted to get around these difficulties: the "reconstitutionist way"; the "way of the astral body"; and the "Platonic-Cartesian way". The main problem, says Flew, is that of logically demonstrating how a person surviving death in any imagined altered state could identify him- or herself as the same person who had previously lived. Flew reviews both the classic arguments of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Descartes, as well as the modern findings of parapsychology, and in doing so he elucidates this complex issue with logical rigor and engaging wit.

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Chapter One Three Ways to Survival
i From Preexistence
ii Attempted Proofs

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About the author (2000)

Antony Flew is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Reading, England.

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