Sunday, 27 February 2011

Continuity after death (and Angels/Spirits)

I very much enjoy your work and also your "come-think-with-me" style. My question concerns the continuity of person on a monist understanding of human nature. If I recall you hold the view that we are dual (or more)-aspect beings made of one stuff and you further hold that our continuity at death is possibly vouchsafed by God's remembering of us and ability to reconstitute us (albeit in a "spiritual body") in the new creation. That seems probably the best monist answer I've heard and an elegant one I'd be happy to embrace but how would it be me that was resurrected and not a clone of me God has made? If I destroyed a painting I'd made but then re-made it from memory would it be accurate to say the painting goes on or a duplictate goes on? Since I don't think personhood is simply constituted by the data/ memories I have or about can the "I" survive death on such a view?

Finally---do you think angels / spirits exist?

NB Response Clearly we can’t know the details of this. But I think that humans are more like musical compositions than paintings (apart from anything else we are dynamic and we are not constituted by material identity since the atoms in our bodies change all the time). If the MS of a composition is lost and the composer writes it down from memory it is the same piece.

Of course a “clone” is not the same person because even if they are identical genetically there is a lot more to personhood.
Surely Angels/Spirits exist. In what form exactly is much harder to say. We discuss this a bit in Questions of Truth.

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