Approaching Death

One’s approach to death is determined in part by one’s belief about the nature of a human being. Most of my academic colleagues are physicalists, and believe the human person is just his/her physical body, and that one’s mind is just one’s functioning brain. This view, as old as humanity, was taught thousands of years ago by thinkers such as Epicurus. In this view, death is the end of a person’s life, and can be welcomed or dreaded, depending upon one’s physical condition. Religions generally hold a different view and teach that a person survives the death of the physical body. Different religions have very different views of the afterlife, with some affirming and others denying the existence of an immaterial soul. Whatever one’s view of an afterlife, the prospect of inevitable death should be approached as an occasion for reflection upon the quality of the life one has lived.

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