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You think that you will die just because everyone dies. And you would like to know if you are immortal. How can you know if you are immortal or not?

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Inferring something (inductive reasoning) is considered by most people to be a valid source of knowledge. –  stoicfury Oct 23 '12 at 5:16
+1 from me :). Have you tried to hurt yourself ? But maybe you mean if 'natural death' cannot occur ? Maybe an edit would be good. –  mick Oct 23 '12 at 13:11
Recommending that people on the internet hurt themselves is probably not a good idea... -_- –  stoicfury Jan 10 '13 at 5:27
This question seems similar to: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/6200/… –  k0pernikus Apr 8 '13 at 21:14
If you asked this question you already applied for immortality, i hope the rest of your "application" is good. FYI you do NOT know that other people are MORTAL. Something to think about, –  Asphir Dom Nov 16 '13 at 1:40

5 Answers 5

Inductive inference. All humans have died so far, therefore (in all likelihood) all humans die at some point. You are human, I take it, so there you go.

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This does not prove that one is mortal just makes it veeeery probable. –  István Zachar Oct 27 '12 at 16:00
@IstvánZachar Enough to secure knowledge, though. –  Schiphol Oct 28 '12 at 4:26
Actually, 6.5% of humans who ever existed haven't died, because they are still alive today. Not that I disagree with you, though... –  Jeff Apr 11 '13 at 18:43

I take it the questioner is aware that inductive inference is what leads most people to think that they will die. But there's the problem of induction, mentioned in the comments, stated by Hume - which makes it questionable whether my inference that I will die has the status of knowledge.

Inductive reasoning is premised on the thought that the past resembles the future. But why do we think the that the past will resemble the future in this case? Because it always has done in the past. Inductive inference has to presuppose what it sets out to establish and is therefore circular.

You might say that this is as good as it gets - and is how we claim to know most things, therefore I know that I will die. But, on a stricter definition of knowledge, this lack of certainty prevents us from claiming knowledge of our own mortality.

The standard definition of knowledge is justified true belief. I can justify my belief that I am mortal via inductive reasoning but can I can't establish its truth that way - the conclusion that I am mortal still requires verification, and when that happens, I probably won't exist to experience it for myself. If I were immortal, on the other hand, there would always remain open the possibility that I might die at some point in the future, say, at the age of 325. (Though at the age of 150, I might begin to think the evidence is beginning to point in favour of my immortality.) So it seems that one's own mortality can be neither verified nor falsified by that person. Together with the circularity of inductive reasoning, this implies that my own justified inference that I will die doesn't have the status of knowledge and cannot have that status in my lifetime.

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Taking this question to a level above the simple "we have seen everybody dies, therefore we are going to die" it's not definitely that stupid as it seems.

  • What if we are living in a dream and therefore we live as long as we want to (and then move to something else)?
  • What if the world is created because of us and we are God?

There a lot of similar questions that are not that obvious to an open mind.

In this topic the answer is: we might be, we might be not. We don't know for sure that we are going to die. We assume we are going to die. But we can't be totally sure (as well as anything else in this reality).

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You can't. When you're alive, the closest you can approach to knowing you're capable of death is by being very near death, like split second. Passed that, you can't know because you don't have a mind that CAN know. You're already dead.

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I don't follow your reasoning. Are you suggesting "it is not possible to have knowledge that you are not alive, therefore it is not possible to know that you will not always be alive"? That seems like it needs a Solipsism premise - that the only items of knowledge about my future experiences are future items of my knowing about my experience - which seems very dubious to me. Consider - I might know that I am a human being in virtue of my experiences at the moment, and that it's possible to kill human beings. Why does the ability to know that you're dead matter? –  Paul Ross Apr 9 '13 at 12:22
Quote from Epicurus: "Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not." –  Drux Apr 12 '13 at 7:35
@Paul Ross: The answer is yes to your question. It is possible to have knowledge that we are alive, but not possible to have knowledge that we are dead, because dead people simply don't and can't have any knowledge. Only by really dying can you say that you have a justified true belief that you are capable of death and your life is finite (not immortal). Inductive inference is not knowledge. It could be a justified belief, but not a true belief, like all scientific laws, which are all provisional and best attempts on knowledge. –  Noble_Bright_Life Apr 13 '13 at 9:47
@Paul Ross: You're only falling into solipsism(?) because your misusing the word knowledge and its application. Anything about the future is not knowledge. Any generalization is not knowledge (including this one). So no, humans are NOT mortal if we are talking about knowledge, and humans are mortal if we are talking about justified belief. A lot of humas have died, that specific person you have in mind who died is mortal (that's real knowledge), but those that are alive are not mortal (they're not immortal as well). Those who are alive will become mortal (capable of death) when they die. –  Noble_Bright_Life Apr 13 '13 at 10:01

Before anything can be said of a "knowledge of death", we must, if briefly say what makes a "knowledge" of something. To know, is to create the mental image of a sensory stimulus. In other words, for us to know something, our brain must be able to take sensory input of something, and relying on the intuitions of logic and causality, to establish a working structure and relation with other inputs and previous "knowledge".

What we "know" of the world is the mental imprint of nerve stimuli which creates the image of a living, breathing, temporal "world". For there to be a world, it has to first exist within our own minds.

Therefore, and according to the former points, the only real knowledge of death is of its physical manifestation (ie of the nerve stimuli which simulate and hence create the condtion "dead"). Consequently, one is led to a dual conclusion:

a. The physical manifestation of death is present and is, factual. The nerve stimuli that I receive from around me do confirm that a living being has ceased its living state and is therefore now "dead".

b. The aforementioned nerve stimulus still remains a nerve stimulus, ie, I know death "happens" within the frame of my mental construct, but as for the thing in itself, it is doubtful. I do not know what really exists past my mental construct of it.

The world exists, but it exists within your mind first and foremost.

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