Monday, 29 April 2013


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.

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