“Together With the Body I Love”

James F. Ross

There are four options for personal survival of death and bodily resurrection: (i) dualism, that a person is not really a body, but uses or naturally inhabits one that can be reassembled or replicated; (ii) that, though humans are living bodies, their "separated souls" endure after death, during the death-gap till the Last Judgment, when their original bodies are reunited or reassembled; (iii) that the 'death-gap' is merely apparent because the General Resurrection is your next experience after death; (iv) or that there is a human metamorphosis (either natural or miraculous) at death, by which there is bodily personal existence until the General Resurrection and everlasting body.

The first, dualism, yields a false definition of human beings, making the body a natural accoutrement of an independent being. Not satisfactory, despite weed-like adaptations..

The second, "separated souls" can explain resurrection of the same person by re-embodiment, (within a general hylomorphic theory) but conflicts with the religious requirements of particular judgment upon death, the role of the saints and of prayers, alms and Masses for the dead. (An unresolved anomaly for Aquinas and Scotus.)

The third, that the General Resurrection, and Last Judgment is the very next experience after one's death accords with a hylomorphic theory and with religious belief, provided the "death-gap" and the intercessions, miracles and prayers of and for the dead, are interpreted as belonging to our "time-situated" appearances, but not to the explanatory reality that is timeless..

The last, and my preferred option, is that humans materially metamorphose upon death and endure as whole persons, bodily, through the death gap until the General resurrection, with continuation of the phenomenal person and character and memory, and undergo the particular judgment, purgatory and the like, and at the end of the world are again, this time, miraculously transformed into the renewed and everlasting creation and glorified body.

The metamorphosis option fits well with general hylomorphic understanding of nature and of the foundations of physical science. Both it and the third option require that any matter informed by my soul is my body; there is no reassembly or recovery of old parts.

The steps of the above reasoning are traced out in detail, and the fit with and need for a hylomorphic account of nature is sketched at the end. The outcome is that if there is to be a resurrection, as Christians believe, the best hypothesis to explain personal survival after death is natural metamorphosis. It turns out that there cannot be a resurrection for me unless I will live forever "together with the body I love."

James Ross.

[The notes and citations are integral and will be posted with the full text later.]