Thomas Nagel's Epicurean Argument

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In this essay I am going to delve into Thomas Nagel’s article Death, to establish why he believes death to be bad, and arrive at the conclusion that death is not to be feared; for when you die you merely enter a state of nothingness. At the crux of Nagel’s argument, lies the claim that death is bad primarily because it deprives us of life. Nagel believes life to be all that we have, thus making life precious. As Nagel’s argument unfolds, it becomes apparent that the Epicurean argument (the belief that death is a state of non-existence, in which one cannot regret no longer living) seems to be more convincing. Lucretius's comparison between the nihility of death and the non-existence of pre-conceptual life perpetuates the Epicurean argument.…show more content…
Should a person not die, they would be alive; thus demonstrating death as deprivation. However, a person cannot be born earlier as they would otherwise be a different person; demonstrating how prenatal existence does not deprive one of life. A critique of Nagel’s response may follow that if one dies later, their existence becomes prolonged, an idea that is mirrored as if one were born earlier, their existence too, extends beyond what should be natural. In this case when we are in either state, we cannot enjoy life, thus following Nagel’s reasoning that we are deprived of life. While Nagel gives a more than satisfactory answer to the question, if it is a thing to die, it becomes apparent that the Epicurean idea has more merit, as death itself cannot be depicted as intrinsically bad, as it is a mere state of…show more content…
Deprivation, as a concept, revolves around the idea of a comparison of a former and latter state, and a realisation of a worse latter state. We, therefore, must be aware of something to be deprived of it; an act which we cannot do within death, due to our lack of cognitive abilities. Nagel may reply and say that whether you are aware of being deprived of life or not, you are still being deprived of the beauteous experiences life has to offer, and just as you are unaware of this does not mean that you are not being deprived. However, assuredly deprivation itself cannot be described as intrinsically bad, as it is dependant on whether a subjective person minds that deprivation and views it as bad. Nagel responds to this by saying that deprivation becomes bad when we put it in perspective. If we took the example of a famous artist who spontaneously went blind meaning he could no longer paint. It is not going blind, necessarily which is regarded as unfortunate, but rather the fact he has now become a reduced version of himself and is deprived of many opportunities which may have come his way. When applied to death, Nagel appears to be saying that the sheer fact we become deprived of any future opportunities depicts death as

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