John Leslie’s afterlife

I don’t get a chance to update this much as whenever I sit down at the computer, which is most of the day, my present circumstances dictate that I should be working, not typing for pure entertainment. But, as this is my online journal, I wanted to record my brief notes on a portion of one of my favourite books by one of my favourite philosophers, Defending Immortality by John Leslie.

Leslie says we have reason to anticipate an afterlife in at least one of the following forms:

1. As Einstein proved, the universe has a four dimensional existence. The past and future is every bit as real as the present since time is relative and there is no way for distant observers to agree upon a single “now”. Therefore, one who, to us, has lived or will live, is living now from the point of view of some observers (potential or actual).

2. Leslie spends most of his efforts presenting his case for the origin of existence, suggesting it lies in the reality of a creatively effectual ethical requirement. I believe he argues his case successfully. The result is that the best way to conceive of the cosmos is as the thoughts of a “divine mind”. We then are the complex thoughts of God, who considers our lives worth thinking about in intricate detail. Leslie suggests that, having thought through our lives to our deaths, God may very well consider it equally worthwhile thinking about an afterlife for us.

3. Leslie’s third option is based on the premise of the existential unity of the cosmos. If we consider ourselves to be the same being over time, despite important changes to our physical and psychological makeup (the body replaces its cells, the psyche undergoes personality changes), then why can’t we think of surviving our death in that the container of our thought patterns, this cosmic existential unity, continues to exist?

While all his scenarios have merit, and are not mutually exclusive, I pick door #2. Now back to work.

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