Because we easily tend to imagine those who are no more as being in a certain state, that state can be used as a bribe or a threat to influence actions when we are alive
To encourage people to live well out of fear or apprehension of punishment after death is cheap as well as dishonest
. It is also impossible; you cannot really live well out of fear or apprehension .
To encourage people to live quietly or conventionally in the hope of a better existence, or at least the hope of avoiding terrible punishment, after death is not impossible
. But it is cheap and dishonest .
If we are to live well, it cannot be because of anything that will happen to us after we have died, because nothing can happen to us after we have died
. After death, there can be no further experiences .
If there is no ‘life after death’, why should anyone live well? Because by living well we can value and enjoy what we find around us
. We can learn to love . We can be loved . Life can be good, but only here and now . There is no elsewhere and later .
If we are under judgement, that judgement cannot affect us after death
. Our posthumous reputation may suffer, but that will not concern us . I need not worry that after my death people may say, ‘What a stupid, crooked, unsuccessful bastard Geoff was’ . It cannot matter to me then . But if after I am no more I will deserve to be called a stupid, crooked, unsuccessful bastard, then I will not have been living well now, while I am. I will not have flourished . I will not have been, in the richest sense of the word, happy . That too won’t matter to me when I am no more, but it does matter to me now.
Posthumous judgements about me only matter to me because I now hope people will think well of me. I hope – now – that you will remember me in some positive way when I am no more. I do this because the idea of your positive feelings towards me gives me satisfaction now. When I am no more, I will not be able to care what, if anything, you feel about me.