This is a brief survey of beliefs about an after life from the earliest times. No one or two formulae can capture the structure or motives of such beliefs. Many beliefs in a future existence go with extreme pessimism about what form it might take (e.g. the ancient Sumerians, Homeric Greeks). Belief in post‐mortem existence may arise not from hopes individuals have for themselves, but in fear of the continued existence after death of others—as in ghost cultures and animism. The chapter touches very briefly on ideas of Plato, Lucretius, Aquinas, Spinoza, and Nietzsche to suggest that philosophical accounts of belief in survival have no tendency to converge.
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