Death In Silverstein's 'Letter To Menoeceus'

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According to the Epicurean view, death does not affect the living. In a quote presented to us by Silverstein from Epicurus's “Letter to Menoeceus”, it is stated “So death, the most terrifying of ills, is nothing to us, since so long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist. It does not concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more”. It seems difficult to argue against this reasoning, and certainly Silverstein demonstrates that difficulty by presenting the Epicurean Problem of the no-subject and its many counters (which largely follow deprivation-of-life arguments, which fail to prove sufficient against the no-subject by Silverstein's account). The problem …show more content…
This statement directly follows the quote of Epicurus's “Letter to Menoeceus” in which Epicurus states how death does not exist for us, the living, and therefore we should concern ourselves with it. As Silverstein puts it, “... it is one thing simply to deny that A's death is an evil for A; it is quite another to imply, as does the Epicurean view (for the "no subject" difficulty holds across the board), that A's death cannot intelligibly be ascribed any A-relative value, positive, negative, or neutral” (Sec. 1, Par. 11). He goes on to state that the Epicurean view “... now seems clearly to be an unhappy last resort, if not flatly intolerable” (Sec. 1, Par. 12). It ought to be to clear to a reader of Silverstein's that the intuitive-based, common-sense concerns not be so readily overlooked and dismissed. As he brings together his argument for the VCF and Four-Dimensionality, Silverstein constructs a framework of understanding that make the intuitive concern for one's own death a reasonable and valid one. It would also be valid, within this framework, that a posthumous state of existence is simultaneous and equally attributable with a state of living. I do not believe, however, that Silverstein's argument goes any further to answer the no-subject dilemma than any of those previously mentioned, nor do I believe …show more content…
This precludes any concept of now outside that of the common-sense use of the term. By the four-dimensional understanding of space-time, now cannot be held as true but as referential term in the temporal sense. Clear to say, then, that the Epicurean view of death occurs at a moment in time (temporally) which surely then allows for it to have a causal affect upon matter that exists (spatially) proceeding its occurrence. According to the principle of VCF it could certainly be argued that we certainly feel concern for a causal event that has not yet occurred, to which an Epicurean would call irrational. Silverstein “solves” this by arguing the atemporal nature of a a subject, stating that the posthumous and living subject both exist together at all times. If this is held as true, then when we reference someone who has died, we reference someone who still exists (now necessarily now, as in the atemporal sense that would be untrue, but still). According to Silvestein then, because the subject still exists, they can be attributed the value of death, which is bad as it prevents them from living. Yet, as Epicurus has stated, “...when death comes, then we do not exist”. This condition, then, seems to run into familiar problems such as the no-subject consideration. Common-sense itself, as Silverstein points out, argues “that death is an evil not because (or if) there is an

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