April 13, 2012
The Future Beyond Death
While Philosophy professor, Gretchen Weirob, suffers from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, she begins to question her personal identity and immortality. Weirob, embracing the idea of death, says to her old friend, Miller: “Simply persuade me that my survival after the death of this body is possible, and I promise to be comforted” (2). In other words, Weirob is saying that survival after death must offer her the comforts of anticipation that there will be an identical “Gretchen Weirob” in the future. She begins to inquire about what it is that gives people their identity over time. Miller then argues that human beings are more than just a body, therefore after death, “what is fundamentally you is not your body, but your soul or self or mind” (6). Miller continues to say that the soul, self and mind are not three separate identities, but they collectively make up one’s consciousness. To Miller, Weirob retorts that “to be conscious” is actually a verb, and every verb is partnered with a subject. In order “to be conscious,” the subject of the verb that is conscious must be the body, the same body that will someday, after death, be immaterial. If one does not have a body, then one cannot have consciousness. Therefore, Weirob claims that the body must maintain her identity. Miller rebuts by referencing Descartes, claiming that there is a distinction between the body and the mind, which he believes is immaterial. Miller restates his claim by saying: “You are a soul, it sees and smells, but Aczon 2
cannot be seen or smelt” (7). Weirob, dissatisfied by that answer, uses a reductio ad absurdum argument to disprove his assertion. Having been to lunch together at a restaurant named Dorsey’s in the past, Weirob attempts to falsify Miller’s claim that people exist as their souls and not their bodies. Weirob concludes that there are two consequences for...