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Possibilityof Life after Death
Theargument on life after death can take two possibilities. First, onecan prove that survival after death is a reality. Second, one canargue that life after death is conceivable. In the book ‘ADialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality’, JohnPerry has attempted to describe the possibility of life beyond death.He has used identity to achieve his goal. Therefore, this paperevaluates the possibility of life after death. Regarding personalidentity and immortality, if identity is impossible after death, thenan individual cannot survive beyond the grave. Though the debates onhuman survival after death depend on the perspective of people onhuman nature, this paper takes affirmative side thatit is possible to survive death and destruction of the human body,hence supporting Miller’s argument as presented below.
Firstly,Miller supports the possibility of life after death. In his line ofdefense, he says that a person is indeed a soul as opposed to amaterial object. According to his soul theory in the first night, theimmaterial soul determines the identity of a person. He argues thatpeople are not identical to bodies, instead, they are same as souls.This implies the possibility of survival after death since the soulnever perishes when the body expires. Further, Miller claims that thesouls and bodies are correlated. Hence, it is true to say that aparticular soul is always available where there is a body. Thecorrelation between body and soul can be established. According tohis reasoning, a body exhibits specific behaviors that can beassociated with certain characteristics.
Onthe other hand, Weirob is succumbing to the injuries she sufferedfrom a motorcycle accident. She counters Miller’s beliefs on lifeafter death by saying that survival after bereavement is conceivablerather than obvious. The question on immortality presupposes thebeliefs on personal identity. It is imperative to understand themeaning of saying that a person at time T2 is the same person atprevious time T1. Also, notion on personal identity underlies theanticipation and memory that a person on earth hopes about the futurein heaven and a person in heaven remembers the life on earth.
Itcannot be concluded that a person is immortal if it is only his/herparts that survive after death. Anything that is true at atomic levelmight not be necessarily true at bodily level. A belief that atomicand bodily levels are the same is a fallacy. "Merger with Being"cannot be considered as a solution since it does not assure personalimmortality. For religious people like Miller, immortality is notproblematic. For instance, his certainty of ‘meeting in heaven’after death with the same bodies they had on earth can be consideredas unrealistic.
Millerand Weirob agree that if at all there will be any survival afterdeath, then it must be in another form other than their currentbodies. This can be considered as the main point of argument in thispaper that whatever survives after death must be inform of soul,consciousness or mind. As per Miller’s conviction, for a person tobe immortal, then his/her identity must be that of the soul.
Incounter response, Weirob says that souls cannot have senses, a factthat Miller agrees with. Therefore, one cannot show that a soul doesnot change at any one moment. Therefore, she refutes the argumentthat personal identity is based on an understanding of sameness ofsouls. Though souls can exist, they cannot be used to judge anythingon personal identity.
Inaffirmative voice, Miller responds that bodies remain the same fromone occasion to the other, and that the soul cannot leap out of thebody in a spontaneous manner. According to him, personal identity canbe easily evaluated from psychological characteristics, whichdirectly relates to the soul. In response, Weirob says thatpsychological characteristics cannot be compared to sameness of thesoul. Rather, it can only be caused by sameness of brain or body. Heemphasizes his beliefs in identicalness of soul from one level to theother. Nevertheless, Weirob responds by saying that one can only knowthat he/she is the same person but cannot determine whether he/she isthe same soul. She presumes that soul is replaced occasionally by apsychologically similar one. Therefore, if the judgments by Millerand Weirob were made based on identicalness of the soul, it would notbe possible to make such any decision with certainty. The eventualityon personal identity is not based on belief in same souls.
Duringthe first night, Miller seems unshaken in her argument of souls beingimmortal. It beats logic that if this argument is true, then the soulwill live on even when the body dies. The belief by Weirob that soulis immaterial and that it cannot be touched or felt is misleading.For instance, while it is true that soul cannot be accessed fromoutside, her argument on concluding something based on what is onlyseen is a fallacy. I support Miller when he says that many peoplehave misconceived of immortality and survival past the grave. Weirobis a philosopher, her arguments are deeply rooted in philosophies andbeliefs that one should present facts for his/her idea to beaccepted.
Itseems Weirob ignores the simple distinctions between conscious andoverweight, and mind and body. Soul is immaterial, and normallylodges in a person’s body while he/she living. Though the two arerelatedly intimately, they are not identical. This implies that whatcan concern people should only be the survival of the mind. This isthe only one that is supposed to be the same in current life as inthe life to come. Ideally, soul cannot be smelt or seen but it cansee and smell.
Iconsider Weirob’s concern that a person cannot have the same bodyand same soul as a misconception. She points out that if this wastrue the body will rot after death then winds up later in anotherplace and becomes whole again. She regards Miller’s argument ofsame body having the same soul as a confirmed regularity rather thana ‘priori’. However, from the basic definition, a ‘priori’is something that can be understood without having to observe whathappens in the world. For instance, from the meaning of a bachelor,one can conclude that he is not married without necessarily delvingmuch into the meaning of bachelor. Going by the definition of priori,then Weirob is wrong. If people have to go with the belief thatwhenever there is the same body, identical soul must be available,then the same people should adopt the belief universally, both inheaven and on earth. Nonetheless, Miller’s claim is just ageneralization gotten from observing the earth and should not extendto heaven spontaneously.
Millerexplains the personal identity through identification of personalcharacteristics like prejudices and beliefs that can be easilyobserved. In response, Weirob uses river analogy to show that you canonly determine that water is from a certain river by measuring itsquality. She refutes the idea that a person can be identified byobserving the similarity in the state of mind since the soul, whichcannot be seen, can change to another similar psychological state.She implied that it was possible that a psychologically similar soulcan flow in and out of the body of a person in a way that a secondperson cannot note the difference.Though the river analogy appearsconvincing, it is impossible that a person can change to be anotherself. It is logical to believe that one cannot deny the existence ofhis/her own soul.
Therefore,it can be concluded that if one is opposed to the existence of souls,then it is imperative to refrain from arguing that bodies are notidentical to the souls. From the dialogue during the first night, theconnection between body and soul appear to be more complicated thanit is proposed by Miller and Weirob. Nevertheless, I supportsMiller’s idea on the sameness of soul. For instance, a person canconduct plastic surgery to have the same body characteristics asanother person but can never get the same mind or soul as anotherperson.
Perry,John. A dialogue on personal identity and immortality. HackettPublishing, 1978.