Chapter Seven

What Do You Thinks Happens To Us After Death?

Aebischer (C.S.U. Los Angeles): No one can answer the question of our 
state after death, but I would like to think we could look forward to 
being reincarnated again and again--exploring many forms of being and 
consciousness. Failing this, I take solace from the past that my body 
is practically immortal, though it will undergo a million 
transformations, in that there is a conservation of all matter and 
energy. Likewise, I think one's mind, heart and character live on in 
the results they create in others and their environment. It matters 
little whether the "ego" known as "Scott Aebischer" continues or not, 
but one would hope that one's achievement of consciousness or love is 
not lost to the wider world.

Adams (U.C. Los Angeles): Well, I don't seem to know in any detail. I 
do believe in life after death. I think we just have to believe that 
it's good.

Arntzenius (University of Southern California): Nothing.

Beckner (Pomona): Nothing. When you die, you decompose. That can be 
Blake (Loyola Marymount University): I'm not sure about that.  I mean 
on religious grounds I think there is life after death. On the basis 
of faith, I believe in life after death. An interesting question is, 
"What's the form or character of life after death?" I guess a lot of 
people think of it in terms of some sort of spiritual non-physical 
existence. I'm not sure about that. There's an ancient Christian 
scripture that [states] there will be a resurrection of the body and 
the life after death is eternal. That seems to me to make sense. 
There seems to be nothing contradictory about that possibility.

Churchland, Paul (U.C. San Diego): I think that we disintegrate. I 
think that structures which make up our consciousness and mind and 
our moral consciousness. . . these can survive in a sense that they 
are recreated to a degree in our children, or in our friends or in 
our students. But that isn't really a survival of me, merely the 
survival of something that I stood for or some features I had. I am a 
complex matrix of molecules and when that matrix falls apart and 
disappears, I fall apart and disappear, so I am determined to do as 
much good as I can while I'm still here.

Cohon (Stanford University): The evidence shows that we decompose. I 
admit it is hard to believe that a personality can abruptly cease to 
exist, but that seems to be the case. Our influence on each other is 
all that remains of us.

Copp (U.C. Davis): To us? Our bodies decompose.

Dreyfus (U.C. Berkeley): I think nothing happens to us after death. 
Once we are dead we stay dead. But I think that like another one of 
my favorite philosophers that I forgot to mention, Soren Kierkegaard, 
that one can achieve eternity in time. That is you can get a meaning 
in your life that gives it stability and is remembered after you. And 
that I am afraid for better or worse is the only kind of eternity we 

Dumont (Mt. Saint Mary's College): I'm  really not sure. Since my 
metaphysics is not dualistic the answer is not at all clear. I hope 
that some of the good that we all do and achieve lives on after us, 
even if only as it contributes to a force or positive power in the 
universe. I am leaning more toward reincarnation, though I would not 
explain it from a dualistic perspective of the migration of souls, 
but more as the rebirth of one's spirit.

Fischer (U.C. Riverside): I think my sense is that we go out of 
existence and experience a blank and our consciousness ends.

Friedman (U.C. Davis): Either death is a blackout for us, or else we 
are "housed" in mind-fields.

Griesemer (U.C. Davis): This is a trick question.  I think we rot 
after death. I don't believe there is a non-material substance (soul) 
that will persist after bodily death, but I don't have any better 
argument for my position than the dualist does for his/hers.

Jubien (U.C. Davis): We cease to exist.

Kaplan (U.C. Los Angeles): Nothing. I am an atheist and I think we 
are part of the natural world. I think the same thing happens to us 
after death as happens to dogs, cats, and frogs. When the body shuts 
down, we shut down.

Lloyd (U.C. Berkeley): Basically, I think that we are animals that we 
die and that's it. Our chemicals go off into the world. They're 
either burned if we are cremated, or if we are buried the chemicals 
gradually change and we decompose and that's the end of the body. 
Spiritually I'm not sure; I guess I find it hard for me to believe 
that what remains of us spiritually will be identifiable as us. I 
don't think that what remains would be any kind of consciousness that 
would be particular to us.

Matson (U.C. Berkeley): Nothing. We're dead.

McCann (University of Southern California): Basically I would respond 
to this similarly to the question about the existence of God. I would 
be interested to know why this is supposed to be a significant 
question. It often comes us in the context of morality, or the hold 
morality is supposed to have on us, but it very rarely gets beyond a 
very crude sort of schedule of rewards and punishments. It is a 
question that can have some interest in terms of the nature of 
thinking things or persons, but that is not the interest most people 
have in it.

McGray (University of San Diego): Either heaven or hell.

Needleman (San Francisco State): It depends on our life before death.

Neumann (Claremont Scripps College): Other than fertilizer--nothing. 
Let me ask you this, "Where were you before you were born?" Well, 
it's the same thing when we die.

Pippin (U.C. San Diego): Nothing.

Ring (C.S.U. Fullerton): If we're lucky, we are buried or cremated 
and remembered for some time.

Ross (Claremont Scripps College): I don't know. I haven't died yet 
and come back to tell anyone about it. You have to have "faith" to 
know what will happen. Although it will be the best sleep you ever 

Rosenberg (U.C. Riverside): Oh nothing. We die. I mean, annihilation 
is the right thing to say.

Scott-Kakures (Claremont Scripps College): Nothing. We just die.

Shallinsky (U.C. San Diego): Our bones rot.

Smart (U.C. Santa Barbara): I believe God dwells inside everyone, 
that He's working in each one of us. So if God continues after death, 
then I suppose you can consider your self part of God when you die.

Wollheim (U.C. Davis): I do not think we exist after death so nothing 
good, bad, or indifferent could happen to us. Sometimes I wish that 
this were not so.