1. How can most of us not help but view Epicurus's argument, according to Feldman and others?
2. What strategy is at the heart of the Epicurean position (though they might have disagreed)?
3. What's an example of a desire that's potentially neither conditional nor categorical?
4. What's the paradox or puzzle at the heart of our mortal experience?
5. What's problematic about "reconceptualizing" immortality in noncorporeal and disembodied terms?
6. Does recognition of humanity's temporal limits exert a formative influence on our ideas of value?
- Is there really something sadistic about Scheffler's Epicurean torturer's words, in the context of this scenario?
- Is Nagel's deprivation theory really beside the point of Scheffler's question as to the status of our fear of death? 85
- Is the prospect of not growing old, attending your child's wedding, enjoying your grandchildren etc. something you fear? If not, how do you think about that prospect (if you do)? "Philosophically" and stoically, tragically, angrily, uncannily, vertiginously, in a panic, or... ?
- Would it be irrational and/or unreasonable to fear death even while acknowledging it as a condition of meaningfulness?
- Would you be irretrievably and eternally bored with an excessively, very, or super-long life? 90 How would you know, 'til you tried? And, is boredom such an awful prospect that you'd rather be dead? Must boredom really be unthinkable, and absorption constant, to make a long life appealing? Would the mere possibility of death be enough lighten the boredom of eternity? 95fn
- Since life has stages, do you imagine your attitudes towards long life will change as you age?
- Is the Rawls/justice analogy helpful, in clarifying Scheffler's assumption that temporal scarcity is a condition of valuing? Does it secure his point that you cannot imagine or appreciate living with all the time in the world? 99
- Literally and figuratively, do you plant trees? Which projects whose payoffs you don't expect to live to see are you committed to?
- Did you watch "World of Tomorrow"? What did you think? (See previous post)
*Afterlife Comments - Susan Wolf, Harry Frankfurt, and Seana Shiffrin
1. What question did Scheffler shy away from, that Wolf finds irresistible?
2. What does Wolf think might we come to recognize, when reflecting on our concern for those in immediate need of care after the immediate shock of doomsday has worn off?
3. Who asked Alvy Singer's question before he (and Woody) did?
4. What does Harry Frankfurt think Scheffler underestiimates?
5. What does Frankfurt consider more fundamental in understanding us than our expectations of the future?
6. What does Shiffrin find deeply tragic about the infertility scenario?
- Do you place more credence in the conclusions of psychologists and social scientists, or the speculations of philosophers and novelists, in anticipating how we would react to the prospect of imminent extinction?
- In the infertility scenario the planet survives, even though humanity does not. Does this make it a happier scenario for you? Are you a closet misanthrope or a radical Green? Would you have to be, to answer affirmatively?
- Do you think most people are "either purely or dominantly egoistic"? 116 Are non-egoists voting for Trump?
- Do you think "it would be profoundly gratifuing" to you as a humanities scholar merely to be appreciated, but not importantly influential? 119
- Do you dance or play an instrument recreationally? If doomsday is announced tomorrow, will you dance or play again?
- Would the degree of apathy and anomie with which you greet doomsday depend on the quality of leadership exemplified by others? What would "the right leadership" look like?
- Do you think thoughtful people have always been motivated by concern for posterity? Are we their fortunate beneficiaries? Do you feel an obligation to "pay it forward"?
- Frankfurt says obscure research can be pleasurable and rewarding, but "writing articles is not in itself a notably satisfying activity." 133 Can you explain the difference?
- Frankfurt says some of us might face a global catastrophe by wasting less time and working harder on our relationships, taking trips, doing other things we'd postponed, and just generally "seizing the day." Would you? Or would you become morose and withdrawn? Or...?
- Since tomorrow is Darwin Day: Is Frankfurt right that the explanation of our interest in the collective afterlife is "simply Darwinian"? 138
- Name some things (ideas, goals) you care about will require the continuing efforts of an indefinite number of generations. How confident are you that those things will be achieved? Does your answer incline you to reconsider your commitment to them?
- Do you feel more drawn to future-directed progressive projects, to backward-looking concern for the eventual fruition of our predecessors' projects, to both, or to neither?
- [Please suggest more DQs on Wolf, Frankfurt, and Shiffrin]