Holism, Particularity, and the Vividness of Life

The Journal of Ethics (3):1-15 (2022)
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John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Life puts forth a view that individual experiences could provide us with sources of endless fascination, motivation, and value if only we could live forever to continue to enjoy them. In this article I advocate for more caution about embracing this picture by pointing to three points of tension in Fischer's book. First, I argue that taking meaningfulness in life to be holistic is not compatible with the view immortal lives would be recognizably humanlike. Next, I interrogate Fischer’s claim that that worries about boredom in immortal lives are predicated on the false view that our pursuits are compelling to us because we value them instrumentally, showing that he relies on a more controversial view of the value of our pursuits. Finally, I argue that Fischer’s naturalistic reinterpretation of the value of Near-Death experiences falls somewhat short of capturing their poignancy. Given Fischer’s seeming acknowledgment that what we get from an experience is sometimes ineffable, I argue that he ought to be less skeptical that a genuine Near-Death Experience would give the person experiencing it some (defeasible) evidence of the supernatural.

Author's Profile

August Gorman
Oakland University


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