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Nagel, Thomas, “Death”, from Mortal Questions, Cambridge University Press, 1979. Section 1 Thomas Nagel dissects the argument of death being a bad thing or not and comes up with a variety of examples to prove his case. His whole article balances the two arguments, on one hand, death is seen as dreadful because it takes all we have and makes it unbearable to lose it.
For example, in comparing the perception of death of a young person and the death of an old person, one can easily point out that the death of the younger person is more of a loss because he still has his whole life ahead of him. The older person’s death does not make it better to the people he leaves behind, but at least he has had more time and chances to make his life worth living. Another context is if the person has seen his life as good, then death is perceived to take away that goodness and so, it is viewed as evil, and dreadful. But for those whose lives do not seem to have anything good to offer, then they may even look forward to death claiming them so as to end their misery. Nagel raised three problems with regards to death. The first is if there could be anything that can be bad for a person without him knowing about it. If death comes at a time that is unexpected, then the dead person is unaware that he is dead, so could that be considered bad? Another problem is the understanding of existence. Simply put, if a person is still alive, he exists, and if he has died, then he no longer exists, so this premise seems to point no time when death can be blamed for such a misfortune, if it is indeed seen as a misfortune. The last problem is related to the previous two. ...
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