A Comparison of Two Accounts of Life After Death
Materialism is the view that the body and mind are inseparable, and
for there to be life after death then the body must be resurrected,
this is much like the Christian view of life after death.
John Hick was a materialist and he argued that, in certain
circumstances, it would be possible that the dead could exist as
themselves after death, if an exact replica were to appear. Hick uses
thought experiments to show the person who dies in this World is the
same person who is resurrected in the next. He uses examples of using
a character called John Smith. If John smith were to disappear from
his home in the USA and then suddenly appear in India with exactly the
same characteristics, there would be no doubt that this is the same
John Smith. Also is John Smith died, but the suddenly reappeared again
in India with all the same characteristics then there would be no
doubt that it was the same John Smith. Again if John Smith died but
then God re-created John Smith in the next world then he would be the
This idea of the Soul and being inseparable from the body is also
voiced by Gilbert Ryle who described it as the ‘ghost inside the
machine,’ but he also denies that a persons characteristics are
determined by the soul. This thought is contrasted by Dualism.
Dualism is a belief where the mind/soul determines the personality and
the body is the shell for that personality. The body is contingent and
will therefore decay, but the mind is immortal and will exist forever.
It is also believed that the soul is associated with higher realities
such as truth, goodness, justice and contemplation, and if a man
spends his life contemplating these realities then the soul can enter
eternity after death.
This view is supported by Aquinas. According to Aquinas the soul
operates independently of the body, and only things that are divisible
are open to decay. The Soul is not divisible, unlike the body and will
therefore decay and die whilst the soul lives on. This view of the
Soul been separate to the body was accepted by Descartes too.
Descartes said that it was conceivable for us to...