There is one point on which, it seems to me, my fellow symposiast, Professor Flew, and myself ought to find it easy to agree. It is this: if the corporeal view of the nature of persons, or some other variation on the fashionable identity thesis about mind and body (if there is one that is not properly labelled corporeal) were to be accepted, then there would be no point in raising the question of the possibility of our survival of death. Professor Flew himself refers, in one place,1 to the universal fact of death, as ‘an enormous initial obstacle’. I do not think that it is, in itself, as enormous as all that. It is what sets the problem. But if we hold some form of what is often labelled to-day as the corporealist theory of persons, then the fact of death itself puts an end to further debate. We do not deny that we do in fact die, however hard it may be to make this a ‘real’ and not a ‘notional’ belief in our own case, and when we die this seems to be the end, in a very final way, of our present bodies. It is not, on the view that identifies us with our bodies or regards the body as in jsome way essential for persons, that there is an ‘enormous obstacle’ to be overcome or that the case for survival becomes more implausible; the case just cannot get off the ground on this assumption, the question is closed at the start.
KeywordsPersonal Identity Religious Person Bodily Continuity Ordinary Experience Religious Claim
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