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Old September 18 2013, 09:38 PM   #247
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Re: What Happens After Death

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Sorry for the confusion, but I think you do have a burden of proof. To assert your claim that people got it wrong and your new definition is the right one, you have to slog through all the ancient and medieval philosophers' work, to be certain that your revised definition really captures what they were talking about, whatever misconceptions they had aside, and you have to be sure that there isn't something else that is valid, which their definition encompasses but yours does not.
No, you're still using the Appeal to Antiquity as the foundation of your claim. There is no validity in a claim just because it has been believed by many people over a long period of time. As I demonstrated with the examples in my previous post, we have a habit of getting things wrong a lot more often and for a lot longer than getting things right. The burden of proof is still on those who are making new assumptions about reality.
Otherwise, and this is the key point, you can't assert that your version of it is really a correction, as opposed to something similar but also something else entirely.
Except that my assertion is not made to correct previous beliefs, it just happens to do so. It is an observation based on scientific experimentation. My assertion makes no new assumptions about reality, it simply states what has thus far been observed (there are no souls, there is no afterlife).

As an analogy, imagine that I did not know that the Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the center of the mind and the brain was a cooling system. Imagine I wanted to figure out which organ produced the mind, so I conducted a series of observations and experiments that showed me that stimulating, changing, or damaging the brain causes changes in thought and personality, but changes to the heart and other organs do not change thought and personality. From these experiments I concluded that the brain is where the mind is generated, and the heart is not. Would you say that this conclusion is wrong because for thousands of years many people believed the mind came from the heart? Bearing in ming that Hypothetical tsq has no knowledge of the Egyptian belief, would you consider her hypothesis as an attempt to correct that belief? If Hypothetical tsq were to meet an ancient Egyptian and he asserted that the heart is the organ of the mind, then would not the burden of proof is upon him?

For another analogy, take Russell's Teapot. Russell said there is a magical teapot in orbit around the earth that is undetectable by any instrument or technique, and this teapot magically affects human activity. Russell added something to nature by claiming there was a teapot, and so the burden is upon him to prove the teapot. Likewise, by claiming there are souls, you are adding something to nature, and so the burden of proof is on you.

Additionally, it's as if you wanted to redefine God as, say, the Big Bang. Doing that doesn't get you anywhere, and moreover things remain mired in the superstitious. It seems a bizarre and needless thing to do.
You're begging the question, in other words, your conclusion is in your premis. I am not redefining the soul, I'm describing natural phenomena that have been mistakenly described as the soul. People used to believe that giraffs were the result of a camel mating with a leopard. Recognizing that the giraffe is a distinct species does not change the animal, it just improves our understanding of it.

Again, the notions of gods and souls are unnecessary. We can explain things without them, and to accomodate them, we must add unnecessarily complicated new assumptions about reality.
ETA: A better analogy might be Santa Claus. Imagine you have never heard of Christmas. You observe that treats left out overnight are eaten, and gifts appear under the tree in the morning. You have no knowledge of the myth of Santa, so next Christmas you conduct an observation, and watch as the parents eat the cookies and leave the gifts. Later you learn that the kids believe that a magical figure called Santa is responsible. You remember your observations and think "Oh, Santa, along with all his magical powers, was made up to explain phenomena the kids didn't understand." I look at souls and think, oh, there's the mythology people invented to explain what they didn't understand. Their mythology has no relevance to my observations.

I think there is some aspect in the irrational usage according to #2 that could be valid but which is not captured by your rationalization in #1, or I might not care as much. Ancient and medieval philosophers got a lot wrong, but they were still, by and large, just as intelligent as we are.
When have I claimed that they were less intelligent? One of my major points is that it is human nature to get things wrong. Fortunately, we developed a tool that works pretty darn well to counteract that nature: science.
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Last edited by thestrangequark; September 18 2013 at 09:56 PM.
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