There are many different ideas about what death actually is and what, if anything occurs thereafter. religions in general tend to propose some form of afterlife. there are, in contrast, philosophers and scientists who propose that there is nothing beyond death. Religious ideas are often dualist, meaning that the body and sou (mind) are in some way separate. The scientists and philosophers who see death as the end of existence, when both the connected mind and body perish, have been classified as materialists. Both categories however, have followers who do believe in a an afterlife and so it is not the case that all materialists are atheists. Dualists, nevertheless, are believers because the existence of an immortal soul presupposes an afterlife. .
Dualism, is the idea that the body and soul are separate entities, and is not as straight forward as it sounds. Different religions and thinkers have proposed a variety of ways in which the mind or soul survives following the demise of the body. Even as far back as ancient Greece this debate was alive, with plate and Aristotle taking very different lines of thought. Plato was a dualist and he said the real identity of a person lies within their soul. He says that the body and the mind are in opposition and often demands of the body take over. He says that the soul has existed prior to being in the present body and on death it leaves the body. Plato created four arguments for the existence of the soul: linguistic, recollection, knowledge and cycle of opposites. Stephen Evans and Magee were supporters of plato's arguments. .
A later theory of dualism was arrived at by Rene Descartes. He coined the famous phrase 'i think therefore i am'. As a result, Descartes believed that there is a separate, non physical mind whose essence is to think. According the dualists our mind/soul is the only thing that is essential to us. Plato compares the soul to the chariot driver in the chariot analogy which is trying to direct the two horses of the chariot.