“When I believed the Non-Reductionist View, I also cared more about my inevitable death. After my death, there will [be] no one living who will be me. I can now redescribe this fact. Though there will later be many experiences, none of these experiences will be connected to my present experiences by chains of such direct connections …. My death will break the more direct relations between my present experiences and future experiences, but it will not break various other relations. This is all there is to the fact that there will be no one living who will be me. Now that I have seen this, my death seems to me less bad…. When I review the arguments for this belief, and reconvince myself, this for a while stuns my natural concern for the future…. Thinking hard about these arguments removes the glass wall between me and others. And, as I have said, I care less about my death. … Can this matter all that much?” (R&P, 281-82)
These are of course the words of Derek Parfit, in Reasons and Persons. Parfit, who died last night, was, in the estimation of many us, perhaps the greatest moral philosopher in our midst. Regardless of whether his death mattered to him, in the end, it matters to the rest of us quite a bit, and it casts a pall on the start of this New Year.
Many of us were deeply influenced by his powerful and broad writings. Others will have tales of his generosity, kindness, and gentleness. We welcome all such stories and remembrances below.
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