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Death and the Afterlife$
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Samuel Scheffler and Niko Kolodny

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199982509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199982509.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 November 2021

Fear, Death, and Confidence

Fear, Death, and Confidence

(p.83) Lecture 3: Fear, Death, and Confidence
Death and the Afterlife

Samuel Scheffler

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers what attitudes it is reasonable to have toward the prospect of one’s own death. Against Epicurus and Lucretius, it affirms the reasonableness of fearing death. At the same time, it discusses and expresses sympathy for Bernard Williams’s view that death gives the meaning to life. Although it develops a position that differs from Williams’s in important respects, it argues that our deaths are necessary if we are to retain confidence in the value of our activities. Despite the reasonableness of fearing death, our confidence in our values depends far more on our confidence in the survival of other people after our deaths than it does on our confidence in our own survival. In fact, personal immortality would itself undermine such confidence. What is necessary to sustain our confidence in our values is that we should die and others should live.

Keywords:   Epicurus, Lucretius, Bernard Williams, fear, death, fear of death, confidence, value, immortality, meaning of life

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