Death

People often speak of being dead as a ‘state’ or ‘condition’ or even just the past, as opposed to an event or process, or final decision. They say an organism comes to be in this state once it dies.

Why not solve the problem by saying that upon dying an organism leaves a corpse, and it is the corpse that is in the state of being dead? There are several problems with this suggestion. Some organisms do not leave corpses. What corpses are left eventually disintegrate. Whether an organism leaves a corpse or not, and whether its corpse exists or not, if that organism dies at time t and does not regain life then it is dead after t.

There are three main views:

animalism: which says that we are human animals

personism: which says that we are creatures with the capacity for self-awareness;

mindism: which says that we are minds which may or may not have the capacity for self-awareness


with the persistent conditions of animals

we die when we cease

to be the same animal


If we are minds, with the persistence conditions for minds, we die when we cease to meet these conditions.

If persistence is determined by our retaining certain psychological features

then the loss of those features will constitute death.


What does death mean to you? Do you view death as a celebration or time to mourn? How does your culture view death? How does your religion or family view death? How has death affected you? Have you been desensitized to the idea?