Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

7/11/2016 9:29 pm  #1

Epicurus's Death Argument

Epicurus was probably the 1st serious challenger to the classical theistic worldview. That being said what are the opinions on the death argument he gives(we've already discussed the problem of evil, so this something different):
[*]Death is annihilation.
[*]The living have not yet been annihilated (otherwise they wouldn't be alive).
[*]Death does not affect the living. (from 1 and 2)
[*]So, death is not bad for the living. (from 3)
[*]For something to be bad for somebody, that person has to exist, at least.
[*]The dead do not exist. (from 1)
[*]Therefore, death is not bad for the dead. (from 5 and 6)
[*]=16pxTherefore death is bad for neither the living nor the dead. (from 4 and 7)                           Their's also his Symmetry Argument: "=16pxA second Epicurean argument against the fear of death, the so-called 'symmetry argument,' is recorded by the Epicurean poet Lucretius. He says that anyone who fears death should consider the time before he was born. The past infinity of pre-natal non-existence is like the future infinity of post-mortem non-existence; it is as though nature has put up a mirror to let us see what our future non-existence will be like. But we do not consider not having existed for an eternity before our births to be a terrible thing; therefore, neither should we think not existing for an eternity after our deaths to be evil."(All of this is from the internet =16pxencyclopedia=16px of philosophy).


7/11/2016 10:13 pm  #2

Re: Epicurus's Death Argument

Personally, I think Pyrrho (and Sextus Empiricus) a much more interesting opponent than Epicurus. I find Epicureanism uninteresting. It isn't the topic of this thread, but the famous version of the so called argument from evil often attributed to him is, I believe, far more likely an Academic argument than an Epicurean one.

​On this argument, the first thing that needs to be asked, is what is the point of it? If it is but a psychological argument - an argument that we shouldn't fear death - then it is unlikely to work on many. Many do not want to be annihilated. I don't think it is necessarily irrational to fear that. Another point is that the classical theist would claim that being is good, so there is a loss of a good there if we no longer exist. Epicurus equated the good more or less to pleasure. Of course, Epicurus seems to assume we neither existed before birth nor exist after death, which is open to question. At the very least we may ask dreams may come?


7/12/2016 7:09 am  #3

Re: Epicurus's Death Argument

I get the gist of the argument, but I think Epicurus fails to really get what death does, as it robs a person(on his view) of who they are entirely, and is inconceivable to imagine. The fact that it is nothing is what makes it so terrifying. I don't think the symmetry argument works either as in the first case their was no one to experience conscious life in the 1st place, but in the second scenario their is someone able to experience consciousness, and now has to deal with the fact that they'll be deprived of it forever one day in an inconceivable way. I saw this analogy which sums this I think pretty well: "It's like raising kid forever in darkness, and suffering, then one day taking them to Disneyland, and putting them back to their situation the next day." Why do you think Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus are more interesting?

     Thread Starter

Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum