By Galen Strawson, here. Excerpt:
If, in any normal, non-depressed period of life, I ask myself whether I’d rather be alive than dead tomorrow morning, and completely put aside the fact that some people would be unhappy if I were dead, I find I have no preference either way. The fact that I’m trying to finish a book, or about to go on holiday, or happy, or in love, or looking forward to something, makes no difference. More specifically: when I put this question to myself and suppose that my death is going to be a matter of instant annihilation, completely unexperienced, completely unforeseen, it seems plain to me that I—the human being that I am now, GS—would lose nothing. My future life or experience doesn’t belong to me in such a way that it’s something that can be taken away from me. It can’t be thought of as possession in that way. To think that it’s something that can be taken away from me is like thinking that life could be deprived of life, or that something is taken away from an existing piece of string by the fact that it isn’t longer than it is. It’s just a mistake, like thinking that Paris is the capital of Argentina.
One thought on “An intelligent essay on an important question”
Well, before I knew who Strawson was, I would have agreed with him on this matter. But since I know of him now, I disagree that it doesn’t matter if he lives or dies.
(Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. It is a brilliant article, and since I know of it, it matters that it exists.)