The Afterlife In Samuel Scheffler's The Children Of Men

1092 Words5 Pages
Using the premise for P.D. James’ novel “The Children of Men”, Samuel Scheffler, in his lectures on “Death and the Afterlife”, explores reactions to the hypothetical scenario of a world where human beings have become infertile, with no recorded birth having occurred in more than twenty-five years. While everyone would live a normal life span, we remain faced with the threat of human extinction as the last generation dies out. According to Scheffler, nature of what we value, and how we attribute this value reveal their dependence on our belief in the afterlife. When our confidence in this belief is diminished, as in the aforementioned infertility scenario, many of the things that matter to us—such our projects and activities—would come to matter to us less, in the sense that we would be less motivated to engage with them (less emotionally invested, and less convinced of their value or worth.)
Scheffler’s interpretation of the term afterlife differs from the typical personal afterlife, which assumes that we will survive our own deaths and be reunited eventually with our loved ones. In contrast, Scheffler’s characterization, which he terms the collective afterlife, holds that (1) biological death means
…show more content…
This is especially true if the projects’ (1) success is seen as something that may not be achieved until some time well in the future or (2) value stems from the benefits it will provide to large numbers of people over a long period of time. To discuss this concept, Scheffler uses the example cancer research as it satisfies both criteria. Currently, we are decades away from discovering the cure. It would be pointless to engage in activities of the like because, in consequence of the extinction of the human race, there would no payoff since they are unlikely to be completed within the span of a
Open Document