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Do You Disappear When You Die?

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Many philosophers seem to think, you simply 'disappear' when you die, 'erased' from the framework of reality as one would rub out a drawing on the blackboard. I think it would be a serious mistake to think this way. Time maga­zine had it right when it represented the death of bin Laden, hence his 'nonexistence' with a picture of him on the cover, crossed out with a big X. If you’re lecturing on the capture and killing of bin Laden, you might draw a picture of him on the blackboard, and then conclude your lecture by drawing, as Time did, a big X across that drawing. That would be the right thing to do. The wrong thing to do would be to simply erase the drawing, to rub it out. A blank blackboard does not represent the death of bin Laden. On the contrary, it represents nothing. Bin Laden, on dying, did not become nothing, just as he did not come from nothing. (Ex nihilo, nihil fit.)Just this, however, seems to have escaped many, if not most philosophers who’ve written about the metaphysic...

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