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Derek Parfit quotes (showing 1-7 of 7)

“My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, and at the end of which there was darkness. When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air.”
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons
“What am I more than elaborate sentience?”
Derek Parfit, On What Matters
“What now matters most is that we avoid ending human history. If there are no rational beings elsewhere, it may depend on us and our successors whether it will all be worth it, because the existence of the Universe will have been on the whole good.”
Derek Parfit, On What Matters, Volume Two
“This part of Kant's view is, I believe, a profound truth. We can be morally responsible in several other ways, or senses, but no one could ever be responsible, I believe, in any way that could make them deserve to suffer. Nor, I believe, does anyone deserve to be less happy.”
Derek Parfit
“If there were no such normative truths, nothing would matter, and we would have no reasons to try to decide how to live. Such decisions would be arbitrary. We would not be the animals that can understand and respond to reasons. In a world without reasons, we would act only on our instincts and desires, living as other animals live. The Universe would not contain rational beings.”
Derek Parfit, On What Matters, Volume Two
“Criticizing himself again, Sidgwick writes: I am not an original man: and I think less of my own thoughts every day.”
Derek Parfit, On What Matters
“What now matters most is how we respond to various risks to the survival of humanity. We are creating some of these risks, and discovering how we could respond to these and other risks. If we reduce these risks, and humanity survives the next few centuries, our descendants or successors could end these risks by spreading through this galaxy.

Life can be wonderful as well as terrible, and we shall increasingly have the power to make life good. Since human history may be only just beginning, we can expect that future humans, or supra-humans, may achieve some great goods that we cannot now even imagine. In Nietzsche’s words, there has never been such a new dawn and clear horizon, and such an open sea.

If we are the only rational beings in the Universe, as some recent evidence suggests, it matters even more whether we shall have descendants or successors during the billions of years in which that would be possible. Some of our successors might live lives and create worlds that, though failing to justify past suffering, would give us all, including some of those who have suffered, reasons to be glad that the Universe exists.”
Derek Parfit, On What Matters: Volume Three


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