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Book Description

Is there life after death or do we simply cease to exist?

Few questions wreak havoc with our deepest held beliefs and strongest emotions more than this one. The answers given over the centuries reach to the very core of who we are and what it means to be human.

Cutting through the emotionalism to reach the central issue, renowned scholar Paul Edwards has compiled Immortality, a superb group of philosophical selections featuring the work of both classical and contemporary authors who address not only the topic of immortality, but also two of the most fascinating and difficult philosophical problems–the mind/body problem, and the nature of personal identity. Highlighted are discussion of soul and body, transmigration, materialism, epiphenomenalism, physical research and parapsychology, reincarnation, disembodied existence, and much more.

In addition to a 70-page editorial introduction offering an in-depth discussion of the forms which belief in immortality has taken, this unique anthology includes selections from all of the major philosophers who have written on belief in life after death: Thomas Aquinas, A.J. Ayer, Paul and Linda Badham, John Beloff, C.D. Broad, Joseph Butler, René Descartes, C.J. Ducasse, Paul Edwards, Hugh Elliot, Antony Flew, John Foster, Peter Geach, John Hick, John Hospers, David Hume, William James, Raynor Johnson, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Lucretius, Donald MacKay, John Stuart Mill, Derek Parfit, Plato, H.H. Price, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Reid, Tertullian, Peter van Inwagen, and Voltaire.

Also included is a detailed annotated bibliography.


“A great source book for any study in psychology and philosophy–from Plato to Locke, Voltaire to Hume and Edwards.”

– Maine Regional Library System

“This is not a debunking work, but one to broaden our outlook into what other possibilities may exist. Who knows for sure? This book will make your brains do overtime, expand the mind, soothe the soul and caress the spirit. Paul Edwards has done an excellent job with this anthology of great thinkers.”

– The New Humanity

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Plato: The Release of the Soul from the Chains of the Body 73
Lucretius: The Mind and the Spirit Will Die 83
Tertullian: The Refutation of the Pythagorean Doctrine of Transmigration 88
St. Thomas Aquinas: The Resurrection of Man 91
René Descartes: The Incorporeal Soul and Its Body 100
John Locke: Personal Identity, Consciousness and the Immaterial Substance 109
Joseph Butler: Of a Future Life 121
David Hume: Of Personal Identity 130
David Hume: Of the Immortality of the Soul 134
Voltaire: The Soul, Identity and Immortality 141
Thomas Reid: Of the Nature and Origin of Our Notion of Personal Identity 148
Immanuel Kant: Refutation of Mendelssohn’s Proof of the Permanence of the Soul 155
Joseph Priestley: Materialism, Personal Identity and Life 157
John Stuart Mill: Immortality 172
William James: The Theory of the Soul 177
Hugh Elliot: Tantalus 184
John Foster: The Objections to Epiphenomenalism 186
Raynor Johnson: Preexistence, Reincarnation and Karma 188
C. J. Ducasse: Survival as Transmigration 194
Paul Edwards: Karmic Tribulations 200
H. H. Price: What Kind of Next World? 213
Antony Flew: The Cartesian Assumption 220
Peter Geach: Immortality 225
John Hick: The Recreation of the Psycho-Physical Person 235
Peter van Inwagen: The Possibility of Resurrection 242
Donald MacKay: Computer Software and Life After Death 247
Paul and Linda Badham: The Evidence from Psychical Research 250
John Beloff: Is There Anything Beyond Death? A Parapsychologist’s Summation 259
A. J. Ayer: What I Saw When I was Dead 269
C. D. Broad: On Survival without a Body 276
John Hospers: Is the Notion of Disembodied Existence Intelligible? 279
William James: Consciousness, the Brain and Immortality 282
Paul Edwards: The Dependence of Consciousness on the Brain 292
Derek Parfit: Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons 303
Bibliographical Essay 316
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