Lucretius and the fears of death
The Epicureans argued that death was nothing to us and that we should not fear death, and this thesis takes up these arguments as they appear in our fullest extant source: Book 3 of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura. After an initial look at the Epicurean theory of emotions, the thesis narrows in on the fears of death. Lucretius employs a common dichotomy to organize his case against such fears: death is either the utter destruction of the person who dies, or it is not and the person survives in some form. Lucretius argues for two key claims: first, that there is no post-mortem survival and, second, that non-survival is not harmful. Lucretius defends the first claim by arguing that death destroys the compound of soul and body that makes up a person; since the person does not survive death, there is no possibility of an afterlife of eternal torture. To support his second claim, Lucretius argues that there can be no harm without an existent subject; since death is the utter destruction of the person who dies, no such subject is left for death to harm—hence, non-survival is no harm to the person who dies.
Ginsburg, Judy; Mitsis, Phillip; Pucci, Pietro
Doctor of Philosophy
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dissertation or thesis