Thomas Nagel- Death Essay

1314 Words Apr 15th, 2011 6 Pages
Section I

Thomas Nagel's Death explores the debate concerning the nature of death itself: is death a bad thing? Nagel explores this question by formulating 2 distinct hypotheses. The first of these is the postion that death deprives us of life, which is the only thing (or state) we have, which would make death a certain evil. The other position holds that death is merely the cessation of all awareness and, consequently, existence. Nagel discusses the conditions of position one, saying that life may not be the accumulation of good or bad experiences, hence life has a value that is not simply measured in existence of the organic body. This means that life itself, or the act of having life is inherently valuable and good, but is not
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The third reply is that the time after death is time that death deprives us of, but the same cannot be said of the non-existence before birth. This last statement is used to illustrate the disparity in the concept of death as evil. Nagel uses the example of a mole and eyesight; since the mole has no sight, and is not accustomed to that good, how can we bemoan that fact if it never knew sight to begin with? In the end, Nagel does not come to a definite conclusion; he posits that death may or may not be considered a misfortune depending on the subject. For example, a premature death would be unfortunate, because the deprivation that death presents takes away from so much good that the subject has yet to experience. Additionally, Nagel asserts that the way we see death is determined by the point of view we take; first, he uses the case of the possible human life span, which is not much more than 100. Using this objective stance, we can only feel deprived of those years that we have but that we do not get to enjoy. Secondly, and using subjective point of view, man's life experience, not his existence, is seen as open-ended by Nagel. We cannot see a definite reason why normal experience cannot continue indefinitely. Taking this view, death is the negation and cessation of an indefinite good. In conclusion, Nagel's end is that if death is an evil, it is an evil of deprivation, meaning that it is not the presence of something bad, but

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