Immortality and Dualism

  • Hywel D. Lewis
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)


Someone who believes in immortality is not thereby committed, logically, to believing in dualism and in the possibility of disembodied existence. Nevertheless, any anti-dualist who believes in immortality is committed to believing things which most anti-dualists would find even less plausible than dualism. Observe that if at some future time I die and then undergo bodily resurrection, or if I arrange to have myself deep-frozen and then thawed a few millennia later,1 or if I have my brain transferred to a younger and healthier body, or if I have my brainstates transferred to a younger and healthier brain, or if I undergo rejuvenation at the hands of the micro-surgeons, then no matter how much my bodily existence will have been extended beyond three score years and ten, I will still have an eternity ahead of me. None of the imagined life-prolonging (or life-restoring) episodes would, by itself, bring one immortality, as opposed to mere increased longevity.


Mental State Material Substance Immaterial State Causal Connection Mental Attribute 
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  1. 1.
    See Robert C. W. Ettinger, The Prospect of Immortality (New York, 1966).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See David M. Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of Mind (London, 1968) p. 19.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See my paper ‘Embodiment and Behaviour,’ in Amelie Rorty (ed.), The Identities of Persons (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1976).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    See Saul Kripke, ‘Identity and Necessity’, in Milton Munitz (ed.), Identity and Individuation (New York, 1971), pp. 135–64.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    See D. M. Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of Mind (London, 1968)Google Scholar
  6. David Lewis, ‘An Argument for the Identity Theory’, in D. M. Rosenthal (ed.), Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1971), and ‘Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications’, in Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 50, No. 3 (December, 1972), pp. 249–57.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    See Kripke’s ‘Identity and Necessity,’ op. cit., and his ‘Naming and Necessity’, in Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht, 1972), pp. 253–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Cornell University Press 1977

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  • Hywel D. Lewis

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