Hasker at the Bridge of Death

Philosophy Philosophy of mind


I’ve put up a draft version of my latest article: “Hasker at the Bridge of Death.”

Professor Hasker has been kind enough to look over the paper for me, but in the meantime I welcome feedback and criticism from one and all.

Here’s a basic rundown of the paper: William Hasker thinks that physicalism has a major problem accounting for an acceptable doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. He thinks that emergentism has no such problem, since in emergentism the soul can survive the death of the body and then later be (re)incarnated in a new body. I have little to say about the former claim (in this paper, at least), but I raise doubts over the latter claim.

I say that a mind that is emergent upon a body surviving the death of that body does not appear to be any more coherent than Hasker thinks the idea of a resurrected physical person is. Moreover, the analogies he draws on to persuade the reader that it might not be so absurd after all to think of a mind as self sustaining after the death of the body (examples of black holes and magnetic fields) involve important mistakes on Hasker’s part regarding the facts involved in each analogy.

I argue that when not drawing on problematic analogies, Hasker switches between two different dualisms: emergentism prior to the death of the body, and traditional dualism after the death of the body. He turns to the possibility that God steps in, filling the role once filled by the body, enabling the mind to live on (presumably in heaven) with the body that it used to be emergent upon. Emergentism is thus denied by his claims. Were he to consistently apply all the predicates of the emergent mind to the mind that allegedly survives the death of the body, all sorts of problems would arise, not the least of which being that he would have to conceive of the mind traveling through space to get to a place in space until the resurrection, and secondly it is far from clear that we can make sense of a mind that is emergent on one thing becoming emergent on another, even if that thing is God.

Emergentism might be true. But when an emergentist with views on “soul survival” like Hasker’s claims that physicalists have a logical mess on their hands, sayings about pots, kettles, stones and glass houses come to mind.

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