What is death? Is there an afterlife? These are questions we all ask ourselves. The apparency of death is that the person completely ceases existing.. Why? Because their body becomes inanimate. The person no longer responds, he/she no longer behaves. The inevitable decay, from the moment of death, of his or her body into dust is a testament to its having become insignificant. But is this the final answer? One should wonder.. One typically takes for granted that the death of the body is the death of the person. Why? Because we’re habituated to thinking of, seeing, and interacting with said person in terms of their body.
But is the body really “the person”? If we thought of a person as merely their body, then a person who “changes dramatically” should have a marked physical change in their body; the change should be a noticeable physical change. Similarly, if a person were merely their body, death would merely be a change in behavior. I.e., the body is still there, therefore the person still exists! That is, the person has merely changed his or her behavior to, say, not responding to anyone and cultivating bacteria. Yet clearly, the essential part of what we call the person is, presumably, not there anymore after death (hence our saying, “they died”).
So therefore, what we call the person is, by way of direct reference, not their body. And if “the person” is, by definition, something other than their body, then what evidence do we have that the person dies when the body dies? Obviously, the only evidence of death, in the broadest sense, that we have in the event of what we call “death” is no more and no less than that of the death of the body, thus leaving the life of the person completely in question. (The fact that it happens that we can no longer attend and interact with them—by physical means, anyway—is already accounted for by the observation that one’s body is our primary instrumentality for attending and interaction with them antemortem.)