Surviving Death

Princeton University Press
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In this extraordinary book, Mark Johnston sets out a new understanding of personal identity and the self, thereby providing a purely naturalistic account of surviving death.

Death threatens our sense of the importance of goodness. The threat can be met if there is, as Socrates said, "something in death that is better for the good than for the bad." Yet, as Johnston shows, all existing theological conceptions of the afterlife are either incoherent or at odds with the workings of nature. These supernaturalist pictures of the rewards for goodness also obscure a striking consilience between the philosophical study of the self and an account of goodness common to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism: the good person is one who has undergone a kind of death of the self and who lives a life transformed by entering imaginatively into the lives of others, anticipating their needs and true interests. As a caretaker of humanity who finds his or her own death comparatively unimportant, the good person can see through death.

But this is not all. Johnston's closely argued claims that there is no persisting self and that our identities are in a particular way "Protean" imply that the good survive death. Given the future-directed concern that defines true goodness, the good quite literally live on in the onward rush of humankind. Every time a baby is born a good person acquires a new face.

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About the author

Mark Johnston is the Walter Cerf Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University and the author of Saving God: Religion after Idolatry (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 4, 2010
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9781400834600
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Theology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The trees which line many of the streets in our towns and cities can often be regarded as part of a heritage landscape. Despite the difficult conditions of an urban environment, these trees may live for 100 years or more and represent Ôliving historyÕ in the midst of our modern streetscapes. This is the first book on the history of BritainÕs street trees and it gives a highly readable, authoritative and often amusing account of their story, from the tree-lined promenades of the seventeenth century to the majestic boulevards that grace some of our modern city centers. The impact of the Victorian street tree movement is examined, not only in the major cities but also in the rapidly developing suburbs that continued to expand through the twentieth century. There are fascinating descriptions of how street trees have helped to improve urban conditions in spa towns and seaside resorts and also in visionary initiatives such as the model villages, garden cities, garden suburbs and new towns. While much of the book focuses on the social and cultural history of our street trees, the last three chapters look at the practicalities of how these trees have been engineered into concrete landscapes. This includes the many threats to street trees over the years, such as pollution, conflict with urban infrastructure, pests and diseases and what is probably the greatest threat in recent times Ð the dramatic growth in car ownership. Street Trees in Britain will have particular appeal to those interested in heritage landscapes, urban history and the natural and built environment. Some of its themes were introduced in the authorÕs previous work, the widely acclaimed Trees in Towns and Cities: A History of British Urban Arboriculture.
The trees which line many of the streets in our towns and cities can often be regarded as part of a heritage landscape. Despite the difficult conditions of an urban environment, these trees may live for 100 years or more and represent Ôliving historyÕ in the midst of our modern streetscapes. This is the first book on the history of BritainÕs street trees and it gives a highly readable, authoritative and often amusing account of their story, from the tree-lined promenades of the seventeenth century to the majestic boulevards that grace some of our modern city centers. The impact of the Victorian street tree movement is examined, not only in the major cities but also in the rapidly developing suburbs that continued to expand through the twentieth century. There are fascinating descriptions of how street trees have helped to improve urban conditions in spa towns and seaside resorts and also in visionary initiatives such as the model villages, garden cities, garden suburbs and new towns. While much of the book focuses on the social and cultural history of our street trees, the last three chapters look at the practicalities of how these trees have been engineered into concrete landscapes. This includes the many threats to street trees over the years, such as pollution, conflict with urban infrastructure, pests and diseases and what is probably the greatest threat in recent times Ð the dramatic growth in car ownership. Street Trees in Britain will have particular appeal to those interested in heritage landscapes, urban history and the natural and built environment. Some of its themes were introduced in the authorÕs previous work, the widely acclaimed Trees in Towns and Cities: A History of British Urban Arboriculture.
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