Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Julian Viall: Installment 1 of 3.

Death and Afterlife in Philosophy

The existence of an afterlife and what it entails is often debated among people but not one person debating it has experienced it, which makes answering the question: “what comes after death?” hard to answer. Seeing that there is no actual evidence for or against life after death, it is difficult to prove or disprove theories. Although no one knows for certain what happens, philosophers enjoy pondering about what happens next.

Some philosophers such as Epicurus believe that an afterlife is nothing to be afraid of, assuming that “any afterlife won’t be bad” (Philosophy 35). Epicurus simply explained to his followers that the gods exist separate from humans, and that they do not get involved in worldly matters so concerns about what punishment comes in an afterlife should not be worried about (A Little 27). Pascal on the other hand believed as a human that is certain to die, one should be worried about an afterlife. Pascal was a Christian, who believed in both heaven and hell, who created a theory that weighted the pros and cons of believing in God. He said that if you were to wager whether or not God is real, you should choose to believe in God because if you choose to not believe and are wrong then you won’t be sent to heaven and will possibly be sent to hell (A Little 73).

While Epicurus and Pascal debate about whether you should worry about what comes in an afterlife, other philosophers did not believe in an afterlife at all such as Friedrich Nietzsche who believes in nihilism, the rejection of all religious and moral principles, and thus believes that after death there is nothing (A Little 172). Similar to Nietzsche in his atheistic belief is Bertrand Russell. Russell believed that there is not a place that you and are rewarded or punished for your actions on earth (A Little 184). 


  1. Maybe you'll get a chance in your blog series to look at Samuel Scheffler's surprising views on the afterlife on Earth.. He has a book on the subject, and an excerpt appeared in the New York Times "Stone" blog.

    1. I just realized after presenting that I did not include Scheffler in this post but that he was going on in a later post. This is the interview with NPR that I found to be particularly intriguing