Hot answers tagged

107

I think you have the logic of this backwards. In theism (and some other religious doctrines) life continues after the death of the physical body. They believe euthanasia is a negative act that can impact that ongoing spiritual life in unpleasant ways, so they have a motivation to endure even the worst suffering during their physical lives. Atheists do not ...


81

I think it's important to note that in cases where this is considered, death is already approaching. It isn't a choice between life and death. It's a choice between dying now or going through a few months of agony and then dying. To most people those months of agony are quite undesirable, where they will be in terrible pain and without hope of recovery. ...


33

I have personally known two friends who, when faced with incurable cancer, elected to end their own lives at a time and in circumstances of their own choosing. Both made this choice when it was abundantly obvious that death was near and inescapable, and their suffering had become unbearable. In one case, the victim's pain was so great that the sheer ...


23

I upvoted niels nielsen's answer, but I'd like to expand on it. Yes, death is an individual choice! I, too, have known people who have been forced to suffer for years with problems that could only have been cured by miracles (which never happened). Death is inevitable. Therefore, whatever follows is inevitable, whether it's an eternity of shopping in some ...


22

This isn't really a philosophy question, but there is no atheism stackexchange and so it seems philosophy is the next best bet (we do address the philosophy of religion/religiosity and the lack thereof, but a question phrased like this is more of a psychology and/or cultural question). However, psychology wouldn't take this question and since I can't think ...


18

Yes, many authors have written about this. Shelly Kagan of Yale comes to mind. His famous class on Death should prove to be informative. He also wrote a book. Kagan cites many philosophers (many of which I forget) throughout the series. Back to Epicurus; his argument is logically sound, except that you misrepresent the corollary. Philosophers that think ...


16

Where's the illogic in preferring (1) not to exist to (2) existing and suffering in agony? It's true, from an atheist standpoint, that after euthanasia I will not know that that I have ceased to exist and that I am no longer suffering in agony. But again, where's the illogic in preferring (3) not knowing that that I have ceased to exist and that I am no ...


13

I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember (I never quite believed anyone could rise from the dead, walk on water and stuff without documented, repeatable proof) and I've never struggled with this question, for the simple fact that life is awesome. I love many things: Photography, gadgets, my wife, my cat, my family, helping people. I get much ...


12

Atheists supporting euthanasia might argue the following: Death is inevitable. Living simply for the sake of trying to avoid death is illogical. Death is timeless / infinite. Dying tomorrow instead of today wouldn't "extend" the nothingness after death. When you die everything just stops. Death is neutral. There is no joy or suffering in nothingness. At ...


11

Actually the whole business of living other than the animalic part, is denying death. So the idealism you are seeking by not denying death is itself a denial of death. [I] The human animal is the only animal that knows it is going to die. (Sartre) As a result we fear death but not necessarily consciously: If this fear [of death] were as constantly ...


10

There are already several answers that hint at what I'm about to say, but here's my opinion on the matter. I've been an Atheist my whole life (I was actually shocked to learn that other people took religion seriously), but the full consequences of my (lack of) beliefs didn't hit me until I was about 12, when I first realized that I would die and that every ...


10

Death is inevitable. Dying in indignity and pain is not. If you have never experienced the indignity of lingering, painful death I understand why you would not see what is wrong with your relative value equation for some people. If you really want to understand more volunteer to visit a terminal hospice to do good things like read to the people or ...


9

Under some assumptions about cosmology, you will exist an infinite number of times in the future as a Boltzmann brain. Indeed you could right now be a Boltzmann brain. This requires that the probability that you will exist spontaneously from random wavefunction collapse is greater than zero, will remain greater than zero, and time is infinite. This also ...


9

Interesting question; I've been pondering/researching the topic of escapism recently. To answer your first question, willful ignorance can certainly be a form of escapism, in the broad sense of the term - keeping in mind that "escapism" is rather loosely defined. If escapism has a more precise philosophical definition that I'm not aware of, then you can ...


9

In addition to some excellent answers I would question a fundamental part of your question that assumes there is a hierarchy from the atheistic point of view. Death is not seen ubiquitously as better than suffering but that individuals are granted the choice free from judgement or punishment. The theistic point of view, in some religions, may state ...


8

Side note: This could be thought of a philosophy of mind question but as it reads, it seems more like an ethology question, or (animal) psychology question which may or may not be fit for CogSci. That is, it seems you are asking for scientific evidence/research that indicates animals display the same kind of behaviors humans do which indicate an ...


8

I feel your pain. I grew up Catholic, but I lost my faith in my early 20s when I began asking questions and discovered answers that completely contradicted what I had known to be the truth. I'm actually upset that I lost that faith. As you're well aware, it provides comfort and gives you specific purpose in life - be good for 100 years and you'll have an ...


8

The answer lies in the Phaedo, not much after the passage on suicide, to which you referred. The issue of suicide arises in the context of the question, put to Socrates, why he seemed to favor death, rather than struggling to avoid it. And a part of his answer was, that the knowledge which the philosopher seeks all his life, seems to await him after death. ...


8

These are my neccessary and sufficient conditions for suicide. I'm a two-pronged atheist (Any Holy Books are non-predictive, inconsistent nonsense; the Standard Model is the best description of reality so far - there is no God effect). Warning: Absolute honesty is required. My life is unacceptably bad. There is insufficient (or No) hope of improvement. I ...


7

This question takes it for granted that fear of death is a logical necessary thing. However, there is nothing that is more clearly a product of evolution than fear of death. There is no deep truth about the fact that lack of fear of death is not selected for in nature. It is hard to defend the worth of meditating and/or obsessing about something that has an ...


6

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.


6

From a physical perspective, your particular neural impulses are so wildly improbable that when you're dead, there won't be another "you" in any meaningful sense, unless the universe happens to be infinite (in which case every possible thing will happen an infinite number of times). From a philosophical (or psychological!) perspective, you get into tricky ...


6

Atheism is a belief that there are no deities (from the Greek ἄθεος, or "without gods"). It has nothing to do with their "existence," "minds," "personalities," or "selves." There are also degrees of atheism. There is the hardest of atheism, which believes there are no gods, and there are softer atheisms, which are not certain there is a god. (The latter ...


5

Jacques Derrida has a wonderful book on the subject (with particular reference to Heidegger), entitled Aporias; however, it is a dense and difficult book, and the fact that your question is framed without reference to a particular philosophical tradition leads me to suspect that you haven't delved deeply into this area already. The thematics around ...


5

I don't think there is a problem for nominalists here. I take nominalism to be the view that there are only individuals or particulars - concrete things or signs of concrete things, particular objects, states and events in space/time. My own death is, or will be, an individual event in space/time. What it will not be is an instance of a universal, namely ...


4

Read Heidegger and his thoughts on Dasein. This is from wikipedia on Heidegger's being-toward-death Heidegger states that Authentic being-toward-death calls Dasein's individual self out of its "they-self", and frees it to re-evaluate life from the standpoint of finitude. In so doing, Dasein opens itself up for "angst," translated alternately as "dread" ...


4

I think you have a point, though I wouldn't phrase it quite in the terms that you have. Being alive is difficult: pathogens, DNA damage, injury, starvation, cancer. This is what makes death (of cells, at least) unavoidable. Life has come up with a really clever way around these problems, though, in reproduction: make as clean of a copy as you can (...


4

A friend of mine just asked me a similar question. What if we have existed like this before? My answer was it does not matter. Because for it to be like now it would have to be independent from now. And if it is independent from now it does not matter since there is no correlation or causation. Just coincidence.


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