Human Nature, Personal Identity, and Eschatology

Charles Taliaferro

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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Traditional Christian doctrine holds that all persons who have died will be resurrected at the end of time and will survive forever, either in the presence of God in heaven, or in hell, separated from him. Not only Roman Catholics with their doctrine of purgatory, but Protestants as well, have subscribed to belief in an intermediate state between death and resurrection. While questions about human nature should not be decided on the basis of eschatology alone, eschatology is nevertheless for Christian thinkers an important consideration for a fully informed account of human nature. This article argues that the belief in an afterlife has important connections with the philosophy of human nature and personal identity that go beyond questions about the bare possibility of survival. It examines the arguments over the positive case both for and against the possibility of an afterlife. It also considers relevant concerns involving freedom and values, material bodies and immaterial souls, difficulties facing materialism, a positive case for dualism, and the virtues of dualism.

Keywords: human nature; personal identity; freedom; values; dualism; materialism; immaterial souls; material bodies; afterlife

Article.  6720 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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