Time of death

Ivana Skuhala Karasman$^1$ and Filip Grgić$^2$
$^{1,2}$Institute of Philosophy, Zagreb

Abstract The ancient Epicureans famously proposed several arguments to the effect that death is not an evil for the person who dies. We will consider two of them: Epicurus’ argument that neither the living nor the dead can be the recipient of the evil of death since for the former the death is not while the latter is no more, and Lucretius’ argument based on the symmetry between our pre-natal and posthumous nonexistence. We will discuss the ways in which these arguments depend on certain metaphysical views on the nature of time. In particular, we will consider whether adopting a four-dimensional framework can provide a satisfactory response to Epicurus’ argument, and whether Lucretius’ symmetry argument presupposes a different conception of time than the presentist position which is apparently assumed by Epicurus. In addition, we will discuss some psychological considerations related to our attitudes towards the future and the past. Dependence of Epicurean arguments on the nature of time implies that our attitude toward a supposed evil of death depends on our understanding of time. This further implies that our attitudes and psychological states, e.g. fears and desires, depend on our other psychological states, e.g. beliefs. From this (Epicurean) perspective we are supposed to organize our life according to rational principles, i.e. the rational attitude should control upon the irrational one if they are in conflict. This is particularly important in our relationship towards death — rationally we should not be afraid of death whereas irrationally hardly anyone can get rid of this fear. By analyzing our relationship towards the time of death we will try to shed some light on this particular paradox of our lives.