Thomas Nagel And His Article On Death


Thomas Nagel begins his collection of essays with a fascinating discussion of death. Since death is one of the most obviously important topics of contemplation, Nagel takes an interesting approach in trying to accurately define whether or not death is a detriment to that individual. Nagel does a brilliant job of tackling this issue from all sides and from all points of view, so it makes sense that he does it this way in order to make his own observations more believable.

He begins by examining the very common views of death. who belong to most people in the world and tell us that he will speak of death as "the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence" and will look directly at the very nature of death (1). The first point of view that Nagel decides to discuss is the view that death is bad for us because it deprives us of more life. Most people are of the opinion that life is beautiful. Even though some life experiences may be bad and sometimes tragic, the nature of life itself is a very positive state. Nagel also adds that when life experiences are set aside, this state is always positive and not just "neutral" (2).

Nagel goes even further by highlighting some important observations about the value of life. A simple "organic survival" can not be considered as a valuable element (2). Nagel gives the example of death and coma before dying. These two situations would be equally bad. Another observation is that "like most goods", the value can increase over time (2).

Looking now at what is bad for death rather than what is good for life, Nagel presents some obvious ideas on this point. Life is beautiful because we have the conscious ability to live and enjoy all that life has to offer. So, death is bad because it deprives us of these experiences and not because the state of death is harmful to us.

Nagel goes on to point out that there is some evidence that people do not oppose death simply because it "involves long periods of non-existence" (3). It is said that people would not consider the temporary "suspension" of life as a terrible misfortune, because its temporary nature tells us that it will eventually bring the state back to that of conscious life. Furthermore, we do not consider the state before our birth as a misfortune or deprivation of life, because this life has not yet begun and, as Nagel later says, he refutes the possible argument that the no one could have been born earlier and had more life, with the fact that if this person was born substantially earlier, he would stop being that person, but rather someone else.

Nagel discusses the next three problems. The first is that there are no evils that are rooted in a person who consciously "keeps" these evils. Nagel summarizes this point of view in simpler terms, saying that it amounts to saying "what you do not know can not hurt you" (4). Several examples can illustrate this theory. People who think this way would say that it is not prejudicial to ridicule a person behind his back, if he does not know it. If he does not feel bad, it's not bad for him. Nagel thinks this view is false. The natural discovery here is that it is bad to be betrayed, which is what makes the situation unfortunate; not because the discovery of this betrayal makes us unhappy.

The second problem is the subject of the injury caused by death and the precise moment when it occurs. An evil can be suffered by a person before his death, nothing can be felt after death, so when is death itself lived as an evil? The third problem concerns posthumous and prenatal existence.

In examining the positive or negative aspects of death, Nagel points out that we must consider the possible circumstances surrounding the death and the relevant history of the deceased. This is important because we miss a lot of importance in the discussion if we take into account only the state of the person at the time of his death. Nagel gives the example of a very intelligent man who suffers an injury that makes him regress to the mental capacity of an infant. His needs can be met like those of a child and remain happy as long as simple needs are met. His family and friends would consider this a terrible misfortune, even though the man himself is not aware of his loss. This situation is unfortunate because of the deprivation of what could have been there had not been hurt in this way. He could have accomplished great things for the world and for his family and lived his life through the old age as an accomplished and acclaimed individual. That would have led to great happiness, but it can be seen that this same man who has a mental capacity comparable to that of a child is also happy, but Nagel agrees that what happened to this man is a tragedy because of the terrible loss of life the intelligent man could have led. This situation may be related to death in this way of thinking deprivation. Death is bad because it deprives you of what could have been.

After making these observations, Nagel states that "this case should convince us that it is arbitrary to restrict the goods and evils that may affect a man to non-relational properties, are attributable to him at particular times" (6). There are countless circumstances and events that affect the fortune or misery of a person. Many of them never coincide directly with the person's life. We must consider that there is no way to determine the exact position of a misfortune in the life of a person, nor a way to define the origin. People have dreams and goals in life that can or can not be fulfilled. There is no way to find all the circumstances and possibilities to achieve those hopes and dreams, but Nagel tells us that we simply have to accept that "If death is an evil, it must take into account." and the impossibility of locating it in life should not disturb us. "(19659002) Some consider that the time before birth and the time after death are identical. both cases, although Nagel claims that there is a difference.This whole essay expresses exactly his point of view that, although we do not exist in both cases, death deprives us of the time during which we could have lived our life or aspect of life that is normal for all humans in general.We all know that we are all going to die and that the maximum lifespan is about 100. So, is it still plausible to say that it is a misfortune? It also gives the example of moles, who are blind.This is not a misfortune for a mole to be blind because it is blind and will never know and can not appreciate it, but Nagel also presents the example of a situation in which everyone experiences six months of pain and anguish before dying. Everyone knows that it will happen, but does that make it an event to be feared and dreaded?

We are brought into this world and raised with aspects of our lives that we value. The deprivation of these things that we learn to appreciate is a misfortune, because we have learned to live with these privileges. It is unfathomable for a human being to grasp the concept of finite life, in the most real sense of understanding. We do not think of our lives for the moment as an established plan or a finite sequence of events. We do not live day by day thinking about what we should do depending on how much time we have left. Our lives are essentially an open sequence of good and bad circumstances and possibilities. Death is the abrupt interruption of this sequence that we can not prevent, but we are in the mindset will never end. This is how death is a deprivation and ultimately a bad thing for a person.

In conclusion, Nagel offers a good argument in his essay on death, according to which death itself is an injury. Whether a person believes in immortal life or not, one must still consider that dying deprives you of the goods and experiences of life. This view seems inevitable. A person who died at age 92 lived fully and lived more than died at age 32. The deceased at age 32 had a lot to do and live in his life, and since the death event has eliminated any possibility of accomplishing any of these goals and compromises all the work that he has done. He has accomplished so far in pursuit of his goals, death is a terrible tragedy for him. [19659002] Work cited

Nagel, Thomas. Deadly questions. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1979.


Source by Emily Crawford

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