Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, February 1, 2016

Quiz Feb2

The Afterlife, Intro & Lecture 1

1. What does Samuel Scheffler ask us to reflect on, and what is his implicit view of Woody Allen's immortality joke?

2. What does Scheffler consider the primary condition or prerequisite for having a life? (Or, what must we do in order to live?)

3. Scheffler says confidence in a natural, collective afterlife is a condition of what?

4. How does he think most of us would respond to the 30-day doomsday scenario? What projects and activities seem least likely to be affected?

5. What's the purpose of traditions?

6. How does Scheffler think the world would react to the Children of Men infertility scenario?


  •  Do you aspire to immortality in any form? Do you find Woody Allen's joke funny? Why (not)?
  • Do you agree that "valuing things... makes sense only against a background of temporal scarcity"? Either way, should we not just resent or regret death but fear it? Should we, for Epicurean reasons, try hard not to? Or, for eastern-philosophical reasons, not try?
  • Make a short list of things that matter to you, along with a brief hypothetical post-mortem status update. Do you care? Does it matter? Can you say why? [Baseball, for instance, baseball matters to me. If I live to just age 101, I'll miss the World Series of 2059 when (hypothetically) the Cardinals might beat the Red Sox in seven games. I care, it matters. Why shouldn't it?]
  • What do you think of John Dewey's epitaph?

Dewey’s epitaph, on the UVM campus in Burlington, Vermont:

John Dewey
Class of '79

“The things in civilization we most prize are not of ourselves. They exist by grace of the doings and sufferings of the continuous human community in which we are a link. Ours is the responsibility of conserving, transmitting, rectifying and expanding the heritage of values we have received, that those who come after us may receive it more solid and secure, more widely accessible and more generously shared than we have received it.”

A Common Faith, conclusion
  • Do you agree with Dr. Flicker? Or with Bertrand Russell, that nobody really worries much about what's going to happen in the distant future?
  • Do you have a bucket list? If you complete it and then encounter the doomsday or infertility scenario, will your reaction be different than it would have been otherwise?


  1. •"Do you have a bucket list..." Response-

    Though I think many view a bucket list as itemized events or actions to be taken over a life prior to death, I rarely have ever seen it referenced as your big list of regrets. I have yet to meet any being inhabiting the human existence that has zero regrets due to their perfect ability in navigating life. We all have a list deep down somewhere with one or two hidden away even deeper possibly. What matters is the individual and their acceptance of the situation at hand day to day prior to the doomsday scenario. Personally if a regret hasn't kept me up at night now, it probably won't in any dooming scenario either, so no change in reactions beyond the mind melting concept of it all being over for everything/everyone!

  2. Quiz Question:

    How are "our" attitudes about life on Earth after death "conservative"?

  3. DQ

    If the infertility scenario manifested in our world today, do you think you would respond with apathy?

    1. No.

      And I don't think apathy would prevail, either.

      Consider that as a world, we have lived under a constant threat of complete annihilation for decades. We have come perilously close, more than once, of enacting our own doomsday scenario. It was reasonable for anyone to doubt that civilization would last even throughout their own lives, much less very far past them.

      I would not characterize the reaction to this state of affairs as anything approaching apathetic. We are, at our very basic nature, a spectacularly resilient and optimistic species. If we were confronted with the infertility scenario, I believe we would respond the same way we respond to every challenge to our collective survival and well-being...by devoting an unparalleled capacity for intellect and stubbornness towards overcoming it.

      When our species was quite literally staring at the prospect of mass starvation, we came up with a way to drag nitrogen out of the air to fertilize crops.

      Humanity's response to crises has never been to give up. It's been to find some way to do the inconceivable and persevere.

      That doesn't happen with apathy.

  4. Replies
    1. It's Scheffler's idea that, if no continuation of human life on Earth were going to take place, then we would no longer place value on many things in our existence.

  5. I found the trailer for the movie adaptation of Children of Men. Some big names in it.


  6. Quiz Question?

    What do we humans mostly take for granted, according to Scheffler?(15)

  7. Comment on John Dewey Epitaph

    His epitaph goes well with my quiz question when asking what humans mostly take for granted. We can not act selfishly with what we do on this earth today, and we most keep in mind those who come after us and what we are passing down to them in terms of: conserving, transmitting, rectifying and expanding values.

  8. DQ

    What are your reactions to the 30-day doomsday scenario? How would you feel? And would this scenario change your actions?

  9. One of my favorite book series is the night angel trilogy, which has a main character that gains immortality. The big rule about his immortality is that whenever he dies, yes he actually gets killed, he comes back to life at the cost of the life of one of his loved ones. Here is a link to a discussion about said character's immortality, http://brentweeks.ning.com/forum/topics/kylars-immortality. I think that some of the points raised in that discussion is crucial when considering the idea of immortality.

  10. "Do you have a bucket list?..." --

    I don't have a concrete "bucket list", although I do find myself setting certain goals or wanting to experience certain things in life. However, my reaction would not be any different to those scenarios, if I had completed my goals or experiences. I would argue that the collective afterlife's nonexistence would be devastating no matter what we've personally accomplished.

  11. We continued the decision over how behavior would or should be motivated by the fact that the universe and existence is presumably finite and destined to end. Specifically, whether nihilism or hedonism is prevalent, especially with an atheistic viewpoint.

  12. Nick Strukov, Dilvin Tayip, Sean Martin, Alexandria Roberts, Caroline Duncan, Victor Smith, and Lee Gish

    We discussed a couple issues, starting with the meaning of life, which we basically came to the conclusion that the meaning of life is to live, and looking for other goals can actually cause problems. We then moved on to the topic of bucket lists, and how they can be a demotivational, or even a limiting factor that seems really beneficial.

  13. Sean and Dr. Oliver and I were in a group together

    We really just discussed identity, and how one can feel like they're more than one person. Especially in a school setting like ours when we are a part of many different organizations, taking a variety of classes, and having multiple types of friend groups. As we go in and out of these stations a feeling of being disconnected from who you really are seems to occur. Although, it is important to be involved in your school is seems as if we have to change who we are to accustom our selves to certain student organizations.