Merely mortal?: can you survive your own death?
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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actually agent answer Antony Flew appears Aquinas argument Aristotelian Aristotle assertion assumptions astral bodies attribute behaviour believe bodiless persons bodily brain Cartesian causal cause Certainly chapter characteristics chiliagon compare Flew conceive concept conclusion consciousness contention continuity corporeal death Descartes disembodied distinction doubt entities epiphenomenalism epiphenomenalist exist experience expression F. W. H. Myers fact flesh and blood fundamental funeral G. E. M. Anscombe Gifford Lectures human Hume identified imagine immaterial immortality incorporeal insist instance intellect kind knowledge Locke logical means mental mind nature never notion objects occur organism parapsychology particular perceptions perhaps personal identity Phaedo philosophers physical necessity Plato Platonic-Cartesian Popper possess possible predicates present presupposes principle problem proposition psi-gamma psi-phenomena psychokinesis question rational reason reidentified remember sense separate Socrates sort soul spirits Strawson substance suggest supposed surely survival Swinburne telepathy theory Theory of Forms thesis things thought tion true truth word