II. Unit 2: Personal Identity and the Nature of Death (10/14-10/24)
This study group uses as its foundation the PHILOSOPHY 201: The Philosophy of Death course at the Saylor Foundation (www.saylor.org).
You may access the study group materials for Unit 2: PERSONAL IDENTITY AND THE NATURE OF DEATH at: http://www.saylor.org/courses/phil201/
Read, watch and listen to the following materials embedded within each subunit at http://www.saylor.org/courses/phil201/
UNIT 2: PERSONAL IDENTITY AND THE NATURE OF DEATH (October 14th-October 24th)
What is death, exactly? Many would say that death occurs when a person ceases to exist. If this is true, then in order to understand death we first need to understand what a person is. In this unit, we will consider three theories of personal identity—that is, three theories about what makes a person “the same person” from one day to the next. Specifically, we will address the views that personal identity is rooted in the soul, in the body, and in the “personality” (understood as a cluster of psychological properties). We will also consider the possibility that death has little or nothing to do with the death of the “person
,” but can be accounted for in purely physical terms. We will conclude the unit with a look at Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Tolstoy’s book raises a number of questions about death that are usually identified with “existentialist” schools of thought, e.g., How do people ordinarily think about death? Do people really believe they are going to die? Is it true that everybody dies alone? How do our attitudes toward the fact of death affect the meaningfulness of our lives?
2.1 Personal Identity
2.1.2 Personal Identity: The Soul Theory
Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor Shelly Kagan’s “Personal Identity Part I: Identity across Space and Time and the Soul Theory” Lecture
2.1.3 Overview of the Problem of Personal Identity
Reading: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Professor Eric T. Olson’s “Personal Identity” Article
2.1.4 Personal Identity: The Body Theory and the Personality Theory
Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor Shelly Kagan’s “Personal Identity, Part II: The Body Theory and the Personality Theory” Lecture
2.1.8 Surviving Death: It Is All about Personality
Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor Shelly Kagan’s “Personal Identity, Part IV: What Matters?” Lecture
2.2 The Nature of Death
2.2.1 What Is Death?
Reading: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Professor David DeGrazia’s “Definition of Death” Article
2.2.2 What Matters about Death and What Death Is
Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor Shelly Kagan’s “What matters (cont.); The Nature of Death, Part I” Lecture
2.2.3 Living without Believing We Will Die: Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich
Reading: Triton College’s version of Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
2.2.4 A Physicalist Definition of Death
Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor Shelly Kagan’s “The Nature of Death (cont.); Believing You Will Die” Lecture
DISCUSSION #2 on ACTIVITY WALL
(Initial comments by October 21st; follow-up comments by October 24th)
Core Reading: Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich
After completing Unit 2, please post your comments on the following philosophical issues on the P2PU Activity Wall for this study group:
- Explain the philosophical consequences of the attitude that death is the end of a person by theorizing about personal identity.
- Describe how physicalism affects one’s notion of personhood during life and after death.
- Discuss how Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich propounds specific attitudes about death that are often associated with existentialism
Post your initial comments on the P2PU Activity Wall by midnight (Eastern time) on October 21st Then, between October 21st and October 24th please make certain to read the comments of other study group members and post a few follow-up comments that engage your colleagues’ comments. Please make sure to reply to the initial posts by midnight (Eastern time) on October 24th.