Alternative Explanations of After-life Existence

Arvan Harvat

There are, roughly, several hypotheses on the subject of the afterlife:

1.  The Materialist stance

2.  The Animist, with a few subvariants, spanning from some sort of immortality of one ( or more ) soul(s) among the entire spectrum of an individual, via survival in a tribe/group ( "antlike immortality" ), not as an individualized conscious subject ( because one hadn't been one during his earthly life, just a part of a group ), but as an "atom" or "cell" in group soul of a tribe, to the more familiar dungeon-like shadowy anemic quasi-existence in Hades/Sheol.

3.  "Ethical immortality": after death, one either enters in a cataleptic hybernation, or is "judged" ( by his deeds or faith, doesn't matter ) once or many times.  This is frequently set in a resurrectionist framework with heavens and hells.

4.  Fall into matter and return into the source.  This scenario can be staged only once, or many times ( reincarnation ).

5.  In the case of reincarnation, it is either illusory ( Buddhism, Advaita ) or real.  Also, it can be interpreted as a wheel meaninglessly circling, or as the crucial means of gaining experience, ethical perfection and so on ( various branches of theosophy ).

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For a comparative look at different religions and their understanding of the afterlife see

web pages History's afterlife beliefs - James Lewis' afterlife religious studies - has a page on every religion
part of the external link Near-Death Experiences & the Afterlife site

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content by Arvan Harvat
page uploaded 10 March 2000, last modified 19 September 2005