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If humans can imagine life before birth, why is life after death so difficult to

If humans can imagine life before birth, why is life after death so difficult to imagine?

I'm not entirely sure I accept the assumption of your question: Is it really any more difficult to imagine life after death than life before death? Many philosophers have argued that it is difficult to imagine being dead because the act of imagination requires that one be alive. In other words, any attempt to imagine being dead is thereby a failure, some have argued. In imagining oneself dead, one must presuppose that there is a consciousness (a living one, presumably), so one cannot coherently imagine being dead — at least if that means imagining oneself being dead. Now if that's correct, then one similarly could not imagine the past before one existed. After all, in attempting to imagine the past, that would require you to be conscious and to be alive, etc. Of course, one might take this reasoning to show that it's not any harder to imagine life after death: Since we can imagine what existed before our birth, we can equally well imagine life after death.

So I'm not entirely convinced of the assumption. But supposing the assumption is correct, why might it be harder to imagine life after death than whatever existed before our births? I can think of two reasons.

The first is that the past is determinate, whereas the future is either indeterminate (what the future will be like has not been settled) or we don't what the future will be like. It's generally much easier to imagine what is determinate than what is indeterminate. It's easier for a parent to 'imagine' the child she already has than it is to easy to imagine the child he will have. Similarly, it's easier to conceptualize the past since we have a much better idea of what it's like: Imagining 1916, say, seems easier than imagining 2116.

Second, imagining life after death may be harder because it's harder to imagine the world after I'm able to exert causal power over it than it is to imagine the world prior to my being able to exert causal power. I have no ability to change the world prior to my existence. While alive, I have the ability to change the world. Once dead, I no longer have that ability. Perhaps there's something difficult about imagining a future state of the world that I cannot affect. After all, throughout my life, I have been able to affect the future. Once dead, despite that being the future, I can't effect it. And perhaps it's tough to imagine a future state of the world without also imagining that one can causally engage it.

(Incidentally, you may the Lucretian asymmetry problem of interest: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/death/#3)

I'm not entirely sure I accept the assumption of your question: Is it really any more difficult to imagine life after death than life before death? Many philosophers have argued that it is difficult to imagine being dead because the act of imagination requires that one be alive. In other words, any attempt to imagine being dead is thereby a failure, some have argued. In imagining oneself dead, one must presuppose that there is a consciousness (a living one, presumably), so one cannot coherently imagine being dead — at least if that means imagining oneself being dead. Now if that's correct, then one similarly could not imagine the past before one existed. After all, in attempting to imagine the past, that would require you to be conscious and to be alive, etc. Of course, one might take this reasoning to show that it's not any harder to imagine life after death: Since we can imagine what existed before our birth, we can equally well imagine life after death. So I'm not entirely convinced of the...

Is it irrational or illogical to say that dead people can have their possessions

Is it irrational or illogical to say that dead people can have their possessions "stolen"?

I gather that the worry behind your question is whether the dead really have "possessions" to be stolen: How can a dead person "possess" something? After all, they can't hold it, see it, use it, etc. But it's worth keeping in mind that stealing amounts to taking something that properly belongs to another — something in which that person has a property right. And having a property right and all that entails — having the right to preclude others from using an object, most importantly — does not seem to turn on our physical relation to an object. Whatever moral claim I have on my house, for example, doesn't turn on my actually being present in the house: My property right in the house is, as Kant put it, a matter of "intelligible possession". Others don't have the moral permission to occupy or use my property even when I am not using it or am not in physical possession of it. So I don't see that the fact that the dead are, well, dead and so can't possess their property in a literal sense is any barrier to their having property rights, and so it seems reasonable to think that the dead could have their property rights violated, by (for instance) others stealing their property.

Notice that certain of our social practices seem to depend on the notion that the dead have property rights: The clearest are wills, which provide legal direction regarding how to allocate a dead person's property, and organ donation, which can be understood as providing legal direction regarding what to do with a certain kind of property: one's own organs.

So I don't see any deep conceptual barrier to the dead having property that could be stolen from them. Perhaps the more intriguing question in this area is why the dead retain the property rights they had while alive -- but that's a question for another occasion perhaps.

I gather that the worry behind your question is whether the dead really have "possessions" to be stolen: How can a dead person "possess" something? After all, they can't hold it, see it, use it, etc. But it's worth keeping in mind that stealing amounts to taking something that properly belongs to another — something in which that person has a property right . And having a property right and all that entails — having the right to preclude others from using an object, most importantly — does not seem to turn on our physical relation to an object. Whatever moral claim I have on my house, for example, doesn't turn on my actually being present in the house: My property right in the house is, as Kant put it, a matter of "intelligible possession". Others don't have the moral permission to occupy or use my property even when I am not using it or am not in physical possession of it. So I don't see that the fact that the dead are, well, dead and so can't possess their property in a literal sense is any...