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Musing: George Pitcher on the Misfortunes of the Dead

Michael Hauskeller
University of Liverpool


This is the second in a series of musings
from the University of Liverpool’s Michael Hauskeller.

 

Can the dead be harmed—not by their death, but by what happens after their death? It wouldn’t appear so since they are dead and therefore no longer around to be harmed. You cannot harm someone who does not exist. And yet, we may feel that some things that happen after our death are in some unspecified way bad for us. If I had spent my life writing a book that would have been hailed by generations to come as a philosophical masterwork if it hadn’t been destroyed shortly after my death and before anyone could read it, it does not seem to be entirely unreasonable to think that I have been harmed by being denied the posthumous fame that I so richly deserved. But how is that possible if I no longer exist when the supposedly harmful incident occurs? Or is it not possible? Should we say that there is nothing that can harm us after our death? (more…)

Musing: John Wisdom on the Meaning of the Questions of Life

Michael Hauskeller
University of Liverpool


This is the first in a series of musings
from the University of Liverpool’s Michael Hauskeller.

What do we mean when we ask about the meaning of life? Does the question even make sense? Grammar may suggest it does, but grammar is a very unreliable guide. Perhaps the question ‘What is the meaning of life’ is not at all like ‘What is the speed of light?’ or ‘How tall is the Eiffel Tower?’, both of which make sense and can be answered. Perhaps it is more like ‘Which colour does the number seven have?’ or ‘What are the exact measurements of this thought?’, neither of which can be answered since we cannot make sense of them. In these cases we cannot understand what is being asked, not because we are not clever enough but because the questions themselves are incomprehensible—numbers have no colours and thoughts no spatial dimensions. (more…)