Can I Be Harmed by Things which Happen after My Death?
A person can be harmed in different ways by a number of things during his/her life. Can one be harmed by the things which happen after his/her death? Lucretius stated that the soul was material and mortal, and Plato claimed immortality of soul in his works. There are convincing arguments that a person can not be harmed after death, according to Lucretius and Plato.
Our universe is a very complicated mechanism. In On the Nature of Things, Lucretius raised issues about atomism, ‘soul,’ and ‘mind.’ He explained how people thought, and what a ‘thought’ appeared to be. Lucretius described how the world was created and developed. He concentrated on terrestrial and celestial phenomena. According to the philosopher, the world and everything in it is being guided by a chance, which is called ‘fortuna’ (Lucretius 121). The world is not created by a supreme being. In Lucretius’s opinion, the world is created by the combination of different atoms and they are guided by specific rules of the universe (122). Lucretius stated that everything that existed and happened in the world could be explained by the natural laws. He believed that the world was created according to the natural laws. Interactions of atoms did not have a specific purpose; they just cooperated in order to create life in the universe.
According to Lucretius, a human mind is material and after person’s death, the mind is dissipated. Each person consists of the mind and the spirit. These two phenomena cannot exist without each other. Both, the spirit and the mind need a body to exist. Thus, when a person dies and mind is dissipated, the spirit can no longer live. It means that death is not a good thing and not a bad thing; it is just the end of someone’s existence (Lucretius 121).
According to Lucretius, a person, who dies does not realize that he/she is dead. Thus, this person cannot be frustrated or satisfied of being dead, because all thoughts disappear the same as the body and spirit. According to Lucretius, people are afraid of death, because they project the harms that they experience during their lives on the state of being dead. However, it is obvious that a dead person cannot be harmed, because he/she will not be able to feel anything.
According to Lucretius, there is no difference between the eternity of non-existence after the death and before the birth of the person. Before being born, a person does not exist (Lucretius 123). Thus, this person does not experience pain, emotions, fears; he/she does not care about anything and cannot be harmed. Consequently, there is no need to fear the eternity of non-existence. As the ‘before birth’ and ‘after death’ periods of non-existence seem to be identical phenomena, during which the person does not exist, the person cannot be harmed by things which happen after death.
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In Phaedo, Plato raised the issue of a human soul. He discussed the afterlife and its meaning in the existence of a soul. According to Plato, the soul is immortal (49). It means, that even after death, a soul continues to live. The soul is immortal, because it brings life, thus it cannot die. The body dies, but the soul lives forever. In Plato’s opinion, the soul is indestructible. He believed that visible mortal things had to differ from invisible immortal ones. This proves that invisible soul is immortal. In Plato’s opinion, the soul takes part in the ‘form’ of life, and to be able to do this, the soul must be immortal (20). The soul is able to gain information during the whole life. After death of this person, this knowledge can be transported by the soul into another person. The existence of a priori knowledge is the proof that soul is immortal, and different things can happen to it after the death of the person.
The person does not completely belong to himself/herself. The soul of a human appears to be the property of gods (Plato 17). The human being can achieve the true wisdom more likely after death. This is due to the fact that he/she will not be puzzled by the senses and the mortal body. A death is seen by Plato as the continuation of life, as something good. According to Plato, there is nothing bad and evil that can happen to a good person after death. The world of dead is seen as a better place; the better gods than those who rule the world of living, control this place. Only good things happen to the souls there.
According to Plato, if life comes from dead, then our souls must exist in another world. For example, in order to be able to awake, a person must be asleep. Thus, souls of the dead people exist in another world, and come to life through the birth of a new person (Plato 51). After death, a body becomes a corpse. It can exist in this form for quite a long time. The soul leaves the body right after death of a person.
In Plato’s opinion, a soul can be brought back into the body (90). The soul can be returned into the corporeal life even as a form of punishment of a soul. This punishment is realized in the form of the self-punishment. A corporeal life appears to be a form of punishment, because the soul is not able to enjoy existence in death. In Plato’s opinion, the souls, who live for the second time, are imprisoned in the bodies. In Plato’s opinion, a man who lived a good life will come into a good existence after death. A wise person is not afraid to die and does not crave to live forever. A good individual, according to Plato, is rewarded not only during life, but also after death (95).
The body appears to be the weak part of the person. The soul is the strong and better one. The soul is immortal; however, it gets deformed because of being connected with a body, and then disconnected from a body. Thus, according to Plato, the soul can be harmed through numerous reincarnations, but it can never be destroyed (99). Thus, the soul can only be harmed by reincarnations.
To sum up, according to Lucretius, a person is mortal. Mind and spirit require a body in order to be able to exist. Mind and spirit exist only during the life of a person. Thus, things that happen after death of a person cannot harm him/her in any way, because, in Lucretius’ opinion, this person does not exist anymore. According to Plato, the soul of a person is immortal, and the body is mortal. The death of a body is merely the continuation of life of an immortal soul. The world of dead is seen as the better place. Thus, the person cannot be harmed after death. However, the soul can still be harmed by numerous reincarnations, because with each reincarnation it becomes more deformed.
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