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Is the afterlife arbitrary?

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I realize that the standard objectivist answer is that the afterlife/reincarnation is arbitrary, but is it really? 

After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet. Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again? 

Edited by Severinian
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8 minutes ago, Severinian said:

. . . We know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet. Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again? 

No. The notion is only a childhood brainwashing holdover. More is required for possibility than lack of surface contradiction. Isn't it possible that cellular life is possible only through attendance by a non-physical life force? No. 

Genuine inquiry about brain/consciousness - real possibilities

 

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Sev,

There is another formulation of immortality that does not invoke a conveyance entity and is argued as a certainty, not a possibility. That is Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence'. This is not a situation in which the recurrence of one's self and same life would be felt as sameness to prior same-existence(s), but the situation of recurrence can be reasoned to. The argument goes that because the future is infinitely long, all the things composing the sequences of the world and one's life and person in it must eventually recur. Even granting the assumption of Nietzsche's day, that the chemical elements will be capable of forming the molecules of life for an infinite time to come, the recurrence Nietzsche envisioned is impossible. The failure is not realizing that there are different sizes of infinity. The infinity of real numbers is larger than the infinity of integers, such that the probability that a number picked randomly from the real numbers will be an integer is nil (zero). Similarly, the infinity of future hours (we are going along with as assumption in the setup for the doomed argument) is a smaller infinity of courses of hour-fires I can have in my fireplace and smaller than the infinity of life-courses I can have in front of any particular course of fire in the fireplace. The hour of life I have just now passed will never recur. 

 

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Your conclusions don't seem to follow from your premises. How is it relevant that there are different kinds of infinities? Nietzsche's eternal recurrence does seem logical, assuming that it's physically possible for things to turn back the way they were. After all, eternity is eternal... So sooner or later, it will happen.


But that's also a separate issue than the question of life after death. 

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On 10/11/2021 at 5:44 AM, Severinian said:

After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet. Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again? 

Look at it this way.

 

Although we don't yet know exactly what consciousness is or how it works, we do know that it lines up almost precisely to brain activity.

We can measure waking and sleeping brainwave patterns, as well as that of various emotions and mental states. Technologies like fMRI imaging look pretty likely to eventually allow us to remote control our gadgets by thought alone, and possibly develop truly reliable lie detection. The reason any of that works is because changes in mental states have a very good correspondence to changes in brain activity.

Furthermore, breaking the brain in various ways leads to permanent mental changes. I assume you've heard of Phineas Gage, the railroad worker who survived the loss of his frontal lobe in a workplace accident and went on to be described by his friends and family as a totally different person.

Anyway. So if we can assume that the mind IS what the brain DOES in a certain sense (and I just outlined a few reasons why this seems quite likely) then we have to ask what happens to brain activity upon death - namely, that it all just stops.

 

So all of that taken together provides what I consider to be a pretty good inductive argument against any sort of afterlife. It's not irrefutably bulletproof, of course - and neither is any kind of REAL knowledge. But I have yet to come across any worthwhile bullets against it.

 

Memento Mori.

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On 10/11/2021 at 3:44 AM, Severinian said:

Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again?

And what is this "entity which contains the essence of your consciousness"? Here you suggest a thing without evidence for that thing, which makes it arbitrary.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Arbitrary: there is an afterlife in Heaven where we will be reunited with our loved ones, or where God will meet our justice.

Wild speculation: maybe the huge filaments of galaxies we can see are analogous in scale to what sub atomic particles are to the human brain, tiny fundamental components of some greater superstructure, existing within the universe and still bound by the laws of the nature capable of recording and recreating the fact of an individual human consciousness. 

Logical conclusion: there is no reason to believe anything other than that your consciousness is extinguished upon your death.

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  • 2 months later...
On 10/11/2021 at 6:44 AM, Severinian said:

After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet.

How do we know it's real if you don't have a scientific explanation? I'll make a comparison to.. intelligence. We can predict intelligence using IQ, but it is not one definable thing. If you want my personal diagnostic, intelligence is the group effort of many different function occurring in our brain systems, but as always, that's debatable. Maybe consciousness makes sense, it can accurately explain physical events and actions, but it is not proven. Doesn't this remind you of god? God says he made plants, animals, and humans. and wow, it's true! around us, we see plants, animals, and humans, so God must have made these things? see, it explains easily why these things exist, but because there is no proof, it is not true

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Recognizing consciousness in oneself is implicit in every act of cognition.  Thus any attempt to deny or question it is self-contradictory.  We summarize this by saying consciousness is axiomatic.

Thus recognizing consciousness in oneself precedes any proof or explanation of anything.  This is implicit at first, but should eventually become explicit.

Inferring consciousness in others is different.  So is scientific study aimed at understanding how consciousness is possible and how it works.

 

 

Edited by Doug Morris
clarification
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2 hours ago, OfficerBacon said:

@dream_weaver I'm not sure what you mean. In order to prove consciousness, you must first believe it to exist?

Consciousness is required to perform the conscious act of proving/proof. Consciousness is required to perform the act of consciousness identified as belief.

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On 1/24/2022 at 10:18 AM, Doug Morris said:

Thus recognizing consciousness in oneself precedes any proof or explanation of anything.  This is implicit at first, but should eventually become explicit.

This also applies to verbal definition.

Axiomatic concepts like consciousness must be defined ostensively.

For a fuller explanation, I recommend Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, especially the section on axiomatic concepts.

 

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On 1/19/2022 at 6:14 AM, OfficerBacon said:
On 10/11/2021 at 3:44 AM, Severinian said:

After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet.

How do we know it's real if you don't have a scientific explanation?

Introspection. If you're like me then you are aware of your own consciousness. You know that you're aware of this sentence. You don't need people in lab coats to perform an experiment on you and publish a paper on it. Science is for stuff that cannot be known introspectively, like the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

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7 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Introspection. If you're like me then you are aware of your own consciousness. You know that you're aware of this sentence. You don't need people in lab coats to perform an experiment on you and publish a paper on it. Science is for stuff that cannot be known introspectively, like the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

I disagree with you. Our minds are too unreliable to just say and make true, all things must be proven

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23 hours ago, OfficerBacon said:

I disagree with you. Our minds are too unreliable to just say and make true, all things must be proven

Are you always high on drugs or something? Why is your mind unreliable? Even if I had scientific proof of your own consciousness, you would need to use your consciousness to look at the proof presented. That was Dream Weaver's initial point.

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On 10/11/2021 at 6:44 AM, Severinian said:

I realize that the standard objectivist answer is that the afterlife/reincarnation is arbitrary, but is it really? 

After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet. Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again? 

As a rebuttal to the claimed arbitrariness of an afterlife/reincarnation you make a very big assumption, namely: that consciousness is in the nature of an "essence" which may be "contained" by an entity.

You then hypothesize the possibility that such a container may again be formed and the result is that it "gives you a life as a living being again".

 

There seems to be no evidence from any direct or indirect perceptual data nor any rigorous scientific thought applied to such data, which would imply something as complex as consciousness is an "essence".  In fact almost all of our experience in reality leads in the opposite direction.  All things act and interact as they do in accordance with their natures, i.e. their attributes, properties.  The more complex the structures and configurations of a thing more more complex behaviour and function result from those attributes and properties.  But those complexities of interactions are not essences of the entity, and in no way are contained by it.  They are an inexorable manifestation of identity, the complex structure, the attributes and properties, and causation.  By necessity the entity exhibits the complex functioning which is consciousness.

The concept of an "essence", which may be contained, attempts to sneak into the concept of Identity a little taste of "duality"... essence, not a thing in itself, attempts to becomes a sort of rogue property or attribute.  After all, a container can be empty of some essence... and a disembodied essence can be awaiting a container to occupy.  But this is nonsensical, there are no disembodied attributes and properties.  No attributes devoid of those things being which exhibit them (and no things without attributes for that matter).  Things are their attributes.

All evidence suggests that consciousness is a manifestation (not a separate semi-disembodied essence) of a sufficiently complex brain in full operation doing what the brain does... all evidence shows that nature is identity, and that to act, live, and to think, is to BE.

Hence, the only way to live again, is literally to BE again, in all the complexity and nature of you as you are now, with all your structures and chemicals and functioning, all your capacities and limits, all your strengths and flaws, all your memories, all the quirks, growths, and scars of the mind which are what you are and not what someone else, anyone else in the world is, or any one else has ever been.

 

You, not just anyone, not your son or your doppelganger, and not your twin, but YOU, are the only you and utterly unique in the universe.

As surely as there will be "life after you", it cannot BE you.

 

 

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On 1/28/2022 at 7:50 AM, MisterSwig said:

Are you always high on drugs or something? Why is your mind unreliable? Even if I had scientific proof of your own consciousness, you would need to use your consciousness to look at the proof presented. That was Dream Weaver's initial point.

Agreed if we accept the definition dream weaver provided from him, but I don't think that's the same definition OP was using 

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8 hours ago, OfficerBacon said:

Yes clearly, but more what I mean is.. We had an established concept of consciousness, and the one I was referring to was the one severinian was as well

You mean the concept of consciousness transference hypothesized by Severinian? 

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