Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Into Darkness, Sep 2, 2013.
One of those girls is, IIRC, Jane Leeves.
Well, everyone imagines Heaven in their own way.
Well everyone has really sucked at it until now. Most of it seems like attempts to con poor people into accepting their position in life so they don't try to do anything about it. Given that religion usually asks for money, this is probably exactly what is really going on.
I want my own pocket universe as an afterlife, with designer star-systems and turnkey Dyson spheres.
Hey, I'm only God...
I'd have fun in a pocket universe. Kinda like "What dreams may come", but with more starships.
I think that part of the difficulty in comprehending consciousness from a scientific perspective is precisely because consciousness is an internal and personal experience. One way of coping with this difficulty has been by sidestepping the problem of dealing with internal experience altogether, as is done in the approach of behaviorism.
While being concerned with observable behavior is certainly a valid approach, denying the reality of internal experience, simply because we don't currently know how to observe it objectively, is unwarranted. For me, this internal experience under discussion is in fact my total experience. To me, it makes no sense to say that my personal experiences are unreal, simply because others can't experience them. I am therefore left with the conclusion that the primary aspect of my own experience is currently beyond the ability of science to comprehend, and similar statements apply to everyone else.
That said, I know of nothing about this primary aspect of my experience that I would expect to remain forever beyond the grasp of science. My total experience supports the assumption that scientific theories can one day be developed to account for consciousness. However, my experience also supports the assumption that such theories would be revolutionary, in no small part because of their scope. I therefore have an expectation that a successful theory of consciousness will have novel content that does not resemble that in any scientific theory in use today.
This brings me back on topic to make the following point. The conscious experience of dying is necessarily a personal experience, and discussing that personal experience scientifically suffers from at least the same difficulties that discussing all other personal experience does. Provisional estimates of the way consciousness relates to the physical world support the reasonable hypothesis that consciousness must stop at death because nervous activity ceases, but how can we test this hypothesis scientifically?
The film Brainstorm (1983) focused on a scientist's quest to replay his colleague's personal experience of dying. Taping personal experience and sharing it, as if replaying a movie on a VCR, as done in the film, would provide an ultimate standard by which we might agree that we have scientifically comprehended at least an important part of the physical nature of personal experience. Though there are some indications that machines such as those depicted in the film might someday be possible, I don't think we're yet ready for anything like that.
Short of this Holy Grail of taping and replaying personal experience, how could we scientifically test the hypothesis that consciousness ceases at physical death?
There was another movie - Strange Days - with Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett that did a similar thing, although it wasn't as focused on as in Brainstorm. They had these devices that could both record and play back personal experiences as clearly as if it was one's own. Experiences could be bought and sold just like Blu-Rays, but it was largely an underground movement channeled through the black market due to the technology's origins from strictly military applications. Civilian applications were largely more...recreational in nature. However, there was a sub-genre of snuff-film variants, kind of like Faces of Death, but via first hand-experiences. They were called "black jacks" and highly illegal, IIRC. Made in 1995 and takes place during Y2K. Yes, dated, but cool movie - very underrated.
As of now, we cannot scientifically determine anything. We don't know if there is such a thing as a soul. And if there was one, we don't know if it ceases to exist, if it goes into another realm, or if it returns to the body of a newborn. Of another species. On another planet.
Measurable activity in the brain stops. That's all we know. We do not know if there is something greater that is independent from pure brain activity.
Even if you could record brain activity/personal experience at the moment of death and replay it, you could still not say anything about the experience AFTER death. Death is indeed the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveler returns.
So any debate is purely philosophical, there is no right or wrong.
This is completely wrong.
I love when people bemoan the failings of science on the internet, on a computer, plugged into an electrical outlet...
As to closed caption's post and whether or not we can test whether consciousness continues after death...I feel like you're asking the wrong question. It's a non sequitur, a massive leap really, to suggest that because science cannot fully explain the nature of consciousness as yet, consciousness might continue after death. These two ideas don't really have anything to do with each other -- after all, science cannot fully explain metabolism or the immune system as yet, but we don't go around suggesting that these things continue after death. Think of it this way: if you let go of all the mythology and religious or spiritual baggage about life after death and look only at the evidence, is there reason to believe that the consciousness goes on? It's been ingrained into us historically and culturally that we are something more than our brains, but that's not what the evidence suggests.
That's not entirely fair. What's been discussed is closer to what happens to generated memories (what I would consider the closest thing to a soul), not to be confused with stored memories, after the body ceases. I don't think a persons metabolism or the immune system has anything to do with souls.
Is the sum greater than its parts when it comes to consciousness, or not? You cannot say that as of now, you don't know. There is not enough evidence to make that statement. There's not even an exact definition what consciousness/awareness/sentience is. Thus consciousness can't be measured either, otherwise there wouldn't be any debate about animals or artificial intelligence. Instead we could clearly say: this thing is conscious, this thing is not.
We are biased because, clearly, something is going on with us. But if you ignored for a minute that you KNOW that you are conscious, does outside evidence tell you that you are? Can you prove that another person has a consciousness and is not just a sophisticated drone running around? That is a distinction you cannot make for certain as of now. As stated, this is more a philosophical debate as of now. You can say that brain activity ceases, but you cannot say that brain activity is the root of consciousness. That one has not been proven.
I hope there is a Missing the Point Championship somewhere. I would hate for such talent to go wasted.
I disagree, I think it is completely fair. There is no reason to think that souls are anything but made up. We could just as easily make up a magical energy created by metabolism and claim that it continues after death -- some cultures have. How would this be different? We know the metabolism uses and produces energy...why not postulate that my individual energy continues after death, leaving my corporeal form and spreading throughout the universe (or something like that). We could even twist facts to vaguely support the notion, just like people do with the notion of souls. The only difference is that culturally we are conditioned to believe that consciousness goes on, and there are numerous examples of science disproving other paradigms people were culturally conditioned to believe.
I also don't quite understand what you mean when you differentiate between "generated" and "stored" memories... all memories are generated, some are stored (at least in a sense, though our perception of a sort of memory bank is pretty inaccurate: any time a memory is accessed it is changed, so they are very mutable and impermanent).
Non sequitur. The same one I noted before. The exact nature of consciousness (which I've never claimed is yet fully understood) and the notion that consciousness is not rooted in the brain are two unrelated concepts. We can easily demonstrate that consciousness is brain-based (and I've already noted in this thread multiple ways in which this has been done).
Of course I can. Seriously, just read a teeny bit of neurological research, just a teeeeeeeny bit!
If you don't know the nature of consciousness, how can you say anything about its root? That's a contradiction.
^No, it is not a contradiction. We don't fully understand the nature of the immune system, but we safely understand it's roots are biological. We don't fully know the nature of type 1 diabetes, but we know its roots are in an inflammatory immune response. We don't understand the exact nature of consciousness, but we know its roots are in the brain. As I said before, just because we don't know everything about something doesn't mean we discard what we do know.
If we don't know everything, how can we know anything? If we don't know anything, how can we know something? If we don't know something, how can we know everything? If we don't know everything, why should we know?
I'm having stonester's flashbacks.
^^^ I got one for you - It is all too easy to know what we know and not know what we don't know, stemming from knowledge and ignorance, respectively.
The challenge is in knowing what we don't know. Therein comes wisdom.
No, the real challenge comes from not knowing what we know. Try that, if you can.
Separate names with a comma.