I'm trying to sort out my ideas, so bear with me here if my questions is not abundantly clear.

There's a Christian understanding that when one dies, only the body dies, therefore, the spirit remains, hence the person "lives forever" both spiritually and in the memory of others.

In pop cultures there's multiple reference to this. For instance, in Kendrick Lamar's song, "The one in front of the gun lives forever."

However, I'm trying to find philosophers who had criticized directly this notion of (1) preservation of personal identity after death and (2) preservation in the memory of others.

This former one is the most popular one and easier to find information on. However, very few talk about the "preservation in the memory of others" as having a value.

I'm trying to argue that if I was a moral egoist, there's no point for me to sacrifice myself for others since living in the memory of others is not a worthwhile substitute to living a worthwhile life.

  • 3
    Would you have a reference to the idea of living in the memory of others as a Christian idea. It doesn't seem peculiarly Christian, but perhaps a reference would clarify that. Welcome to Philosophy! – Frank Hubeny Feb 19 '19 at 3:52
  • Thanks! We'll there's no particular text I could point out to. It's more so a general shared meaning that a lot of people who follow Christianity seem to have. Another analogous concept would be that I talked with some Catholics and they pointed out that they believed that everyone had a personal book and once your life ends that book ends. I don't know if they meant it "metaphorical book" or that God writes in everyone's books. I see it cross culturally as well. I remember that in a Japanese show when the character goes to Heaven and God has a library where it had info on everyone. – Kratz Feb 19 '19 at 5:15
  • So this would be preservation in the memory of God, or some eternal metaphorical book, not just in other people who also die or forget. – Frank Hubeny Feb 19 '19 at 13:33
  • "Let the dead bury their own dead." Jesus (subject to various interpretations). Contra position: Walter Benjamin. Marxism in general. But see this on Marx: radicalphilosophy.com/article/let-the-dead-bury-their-dead – Gordon Feb 19 '19 at 18:47
  • Contra: Essay on Sartre: Sartre On our Responsibility for Dead Lives: bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Hist/HistGord.htm – Gordon Feb 19 '19 at 18:50

Welcome to PSE, Kratz.

I don't recognise 'preservation in the memory of others' as any element of any consideration in Christian theology. A saint might be remembered for some exemplary quality of life but that's another matter.

What I do recall, however, is reading certain 19th-century thinkers who, having abandoned Christianity in its literal form as a set of true doctrines, pressed the idea of preservation in the memory of others as a transformed or replacement version of immortality. This was the most we could reasonably hope for, given that any traditional idea of immortality was untenable. (I am merely summarising their view; my own views are nothing to the point.)

Chief among such writers as I have read were TH Green (1836-82) and Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923). Bosanquet was more concerned than Green with personal immortality and its prospects. The topic is dealt with in the second volume of his Gifford Lectures, The Value and Destiny of the Individual (1913). Btw Bosanquet explicitly refers to Comte as stressing that we survive (only) in the memories we leave.

If you can get hold of it a valuable source is :

The destiny of the self in professor Bosanquet's theory Radoslav A. Tsanoff Philosophical Review 29 (1):59-79 (1920).

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