Table of Contents
Thomas Nagel tries in the article to explain the views of two different groups of people about death in the case it leads to the permanent inexistence of a person. According to the article, being alive is considered good even if it comes with certain unpleasant experience. Death, however, deprives people of the things they would experience in life if they lived longer. Thus, it creates the idea that death must be evil and thus people always see it limits the possibilities in human life at any point. The idea of limiting the possibilities causes the loss [of human life to be the subject of pity. Human still has pity when someone dies even though they know that death is inevitable. The feeling of people is that they should have control of the time of death and how it takes place. Thomas gives also gives examples explaining why death some people describe death as a bad thing without considering the subject and time factor. Nonetheless, Nagel still be
Thomas states that death can only be evil because it deprives people of life. In explaining why life is good, Nagel points out that in case we remove both negative and positive experiences in a person’s life, the is still good in an individual remaining alive. Thus, death is seen as evil since in bring an end to the experiences in lives and deprives people of their abilities. In his explanation, any case that results in permanent loss of consciousness is considered bad. However if an individual gain consciousness after an extended period, then it would still be a good thing (Nagel, 2). Individuals only value cases where they can still be conscious after a long time. Even though people love living, what they desire is certain experiences, ability to remain alive and doing things we perceive to be good. Thus, individuals who do not object death do not mind being unconscious for a long duration so long as it does not affect the period of their consciousness.
Thomas also shows that despite the difficulties the may arise due to question whether death is bad and if we should show pity. In his explanation, he uses the case of dementia for an adult who loses his cognitive ability and behaves like a toddler after the accident. The individual who has dementia is deprived of their thinking ability by the condition. The case is similar to death that deprives people their lives. In both cases, human feel pity for the person by considering what they could be had they not suffered from the unfortunate incident. The incident showed that people subject to good or evil by looking at the possibilities that they may or may not realize. As individuals, we cannot disconnect the history of the person and development to their current status after the misfortune. We pity for a dead person because we consider the possibility of the individual being alive.
The difference between periods before birth and after death also why we pity for the dead while considering the nonexistence nature (Nagel, 388). In both cases, the person does not exist. However, the two periods show the striking difference that supports pity for deceased individuals. After death, the person loses their lives while before birth, they remain nonexistent. The period marks the time when the individual would be alive and doing other things were it not for death. However, the duration before birth does not take away anything since a person cannot live before their birth. The time before birth does not prevent the person from living. However, being born earlier would only make them a different person.
Even though death is inevitable, it takes away what life offers (Schumacher, 204). The feeling of pity is due to the idea that we relate the possibility of the individual if they would still be alive while considering their history. We show pity to the dead because it deprives people what life offers. Thus, death is evil as it limits the possibilities and does not allow continuous access to good things offered by life.
I agree with Nagel’s argument that death is evil since it deprives human of life. Thomas precisely shows incidences that guide the judgment on the issue. I every event of death, there is nonrealization of the possibilities (Nagel, 388). The person also loses the ability to live and enjoy what life offers. Death robs people of the ability to be conscious again which is one of the factors that human value. However, they venture in a state of nonexistence that no living person can never imagine or understand what takes place after death.
After the passing of an individual, they lose their ability to live and do what they were doing while alive. Most of the people even die when they have specific plans on what they intend to do. However, due to their death, they are unable to carry out these activities. The problem is usually severe in younger people who still have a lot to do in their lives. If they die early, it becomes tragic since death robs them what life offers within a short period. They do not get to enjoy the life experiences even for a longer duration and are not able to meet most of their goals. The arguments by Nagel shows that at any point of individual’s death, they still potential to enjoy what life offers in future that they do not get.
Even though the death of an old person may not seem tragic due to long time they experienced life, it is still painful to lose the ability to leave. The people remaining will show pity for both young and old people who die due to inability to experience good things life has to offer anymore. The remaining individuals will still consider the possibilities of every person after death at any age. What even makes it more pitiful is the fact that human does not have control of their death nor how they die. An individual can die at any time while they still have a lot of objectives to achieve. Thus, we still need to show pity for the people who die and can no longer enjoy what life offers.
- Nagel, Thomas. Mortal Questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Print.
- Nagel, Thomas. Mortal Questions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Print.
- Schumacher, Bernard. Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.