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Desirability without Desire: Life Extension, Boredom and Spiritual Experience

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2021

Drew Chastain*
Affiliation:
Loyola UniversityNew Orleans

Abstract

In response to Bernard Williams’ suspicion that we would inevitably become bored with immortal life, John Martin Fischer has argued that we could continue to enjoy repeatable pleasures such as fine wine, beautiful music, and spiritual experiences. In more recent work on near-death experiences, Fischer has also explored the non-religious meaning of spiritual experiences in more depth. I join this deeper exploration of spiritual experience, and I also join Williams’ critics who question his view that character and desire are needed to explain the desirability of life, while providing additional reason for concern that Williams’ way of valuing life may itself actually be a cause of boredom with life. With an eye to spiritual experience, I indicate how we can distance ourselves even further from Williams’ view, and I suggest how the attitude that life is good but death is not bad emerges from spiritual experience, as expressed in numerous religious and secular spiritual traditions. This lends support to the conclusion that radically extended life is desirable even if not actively desired.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2021

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