The Existential Passage Hypothesis [Book Review]

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[Excerpt from “Section 1: Summary of the conclusions”] In Chapter 9, Stewart defends the thesis that if non-reductive physicalism is true, then, contrary to a widespread belief, death does not bring about eternal oblivion, a permanent cessation of the stream of consciousness at the moment of death. Stewart argues that the stream of consciousness continues after death—devoid of the body’s former memories and personality traits—and it does so as the stream of consciousness of new, freshly conscious bodies (other humans, animals, etc., that are conceived and develop consciousness). And so, any permanent cessation of the stream of consciousness at the moment of death is impossible as long as new, freshly conscious bodies come to exist. Consciousness is defined here as awareness, and is not limited to self-awareness (i.e., the recognition of one’s awareness). This general thesis does not specify when in the future those new, freshly conscious bodies must have come into being. This thesis has also been independently defended by the philosopher Thomas W. Clark.
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