List journal issues    
 
 
Home List journal issues Table of contents Subscribe to APQ

Article

Volume 49 • Number 4

October 2012



 

 

DEATH'S DISTINCTIVE HARM


by Stephan Blatti


The Harm Thesis (HT) states that death can harm the one who dies. The Epicurean rejection of this claim relies on the following familiar argument: before death there is no harm (i.e., prior to its occurrence, death inflicts no injury on its eventual victim); after death there is no victim (since, it is assumed, death brings about the subject's nonexistence, and thus there exists no postmortem subject to whom a harm could accrue); therefore, HT is false: death cannot harm the one who dies. "The most awful of evils," as Epicurus notoriously put it in his Letter to Menoeceus, "is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not." Indeed, insofar as one's fear of death is predicated upon a fear of harm to oneself, Epicurus held, the falsity of HT exposes such fear as irrational. Again from the Letter: "He speaks idly who says that he fears death, not because it will be painful when present but because it is painful in anticipation. For if something causes no distress when present, it is fruitless to be pained by the expectation of it."


view PDF
 

 

 

 
Home | Issue Index
 
© 2012 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Content in American Philosophical Quarterly is intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You may not reproduce, publish, distribute, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale of, modify, create derivative works from, display, or in any way exploit the American Philosophical Quarterly database in whole or in part without the written permission of the copyright holder.

American Philosophical Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-1123