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  #151  
Old 11-02-2011, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
I agree with this, and I don't particularly like "burden of proof" arguments, in any case, but...


There are only the first two options.
Any way you look at it there are 3 positions: yes, no, and we don't know.

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Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
(3) is just a statement about the extent of our knowledge,
It's a position.

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Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
and it glosses over the fact that we can have varying degrees of certainty based on observation of the relationship between awareness and brain activity in living beings.
It doesn't gloss over anything. If anything it puts all of the above in it's proper perspective. To say that you personally feel that the evidence for your position justifies a certain amount of certainty is fine. But "We can" doesn't mean "we must" or even "we should".

The viability of the available evidence as well as what it all adds up to is an individual, subjective judgement call.

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Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
That's not quite right. My Myself said that no evidence can support the claim, not just that we do not know.
Support is a vague term and considering the topic, whether or not the evidence supports the claim is completely subjective. That being the case as far as I'm concerned MeMyself's post still fits under option 3.

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Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
I disagree with this for the reasons laid out in the OP and my other posts. We can observe awareness in living people and its relationship to brain activity. Brain trauma tends to lead to loss of awareness, and death is the ultimate brain trauma. It is therefore reasonable to project that brain death leads to permanent loss of awareness.
If by "project" you mean "propose" or "consider", sure. We should do that with all the options, IMO.

In any case, putting aside the probability of any of the options for a moment, the whole point of the post of mine that you responded to was this:

If someone claims that there is no life after death, or even that it's more likely that awareness ends with death, it's up to that person to explain why they believe that.

If someone challenges that claim, it's up to the claimant to defend it. If all the claimant does in defense of their claim is point to the opposing side and suggest that it's up to them to disprove his claim, otherwise it has to be considered valid by default, no, sorry. That's a completely invalid defense.

Claimant: "Life/awareness ends with death"

Challenger: "Show how the evidence suggests this"

Claimant: "I don't have to, it's up to the other guys to prove me wrong".

See what I'm saying?

I realize MeMyself's proposition was a little more definite than the Challanger's in this scenario, but it's basically the same situation.
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Last edited by Quagmire; 11-02-2011 at 08:31 PM..
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  #152  
Old 11-02-2011, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Madhuri View Post
It is a different way of conceptualising. Sometimes by subtly changing the way we think about something gives us a better understanding of it. To think about this concept in terms of 'more than the body' gives an impression that the body is first and foremost and this something 'more' is just a part of it. This wording stands out for me because I grew up being taught, not that I am more than this body, but that I am not this body at all.

Yes, of course. Or more specifically, that 'people' (the individual) are not their body. The body is a temporary instrument. The Gita compares it with clothing that is discarded. See, wording can be significant.
So you believe that when you die, no aspects of Madhuri continue? No memory imprints, no personality imprints, at all, etc? Because if you do believe those do continue in some form, or can be involved later in some way, then this body and mind are a part of you, right?

If I recall, you take a more dvaita interpretation. So rather than believing you will eventually turn into some pure oneness or pure consciousness, you believe you continue to have some form of identity, correct?

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It doesn't make any sense to me. The idea of a God who sets up a world to test us and then judges us seems unfair and unusual.
Doesn't make sense to me either, but you've made statements that extend beyond your religion and specifically into all religions when you've suggested that people in general, across religions, don't believe mental activity occurs without brains.

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As to your question, you would have to ask a believer of such a god to explain this. I don't think it makes sense, but they might have a decent explanation.
And most of the explanations I've seen of them involve significant aspects of the mind surviving in some form, therefore the relevance of this thread.

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For every 'paranormal' example I could offer a differing explanation. If we are talking about ghosts specifically, I have to say that in my religious background, ghosts are considered to be material bodies linked with the physical form it passed from.
As for deceased ones watching over from 'beyond', these would be explained by bringing in the concept of astral bodies. There is an idea within Hinduism of heavenly realms where individuals remain for some time before reincarnating. Like a stop over place. Here the bodies are astral.

As for my own beliefs regarding this, I don't have any.

I will point out that many of the people who are into alternative or new age ideas and believe in the 'ghosts' that cross over and look over us, the concept of astral bodies is common.
Astral bodies with minds that are directly related to the mind that's currently in the brain. It's another example of a mind still being relevant after the brain has been destroyed, and therefore directly related to the OP.

Quote:
Could you elaborate? Are you asking me to comment on 'those' people or the idea itself or to explain what that idea is?
Sorry for the lack of clarity in my question- I was asking you to comment on your previous statements regarding what people believe about mental activity and the necessity of brains- and how people that propose that awareness or consciousness can exist independently of having any body at all, relates to those statements.

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Yes, I have explained throughout this thread that there is a mind. It is not the same mind that you are thinking with right now. When this body dies so does the mind that developed with it. But you shed one body and there remains another. The concept of samskara means that the things that happen to you in this body make impressions within the deeper 'layers' of Self. It goes both ways: the soul influences the physical mind and the physical mind influences the soul-consciousness.
So what is the form of information transfer involved? How does it take physical information- like that stored in memories or personality or experiences, and encode it onto an astral body or other medium? As soon as an explanation involves the material world in some way, which this seems to, it enters the realm of evidence and testability.

And a subset of this has to do with a mind surviving death of the brain. If impressions from life are being stored and kept on some other medium, and those things have anything to do with personality or memories, then it's a matter of mental activity surviving and existing to some extent independently of the brain.

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Are you familiar with the concept of astral body and chakras? There is no mind transfer. The spiritual, astral and physical bodies are layered. They influence each other.
Depends on what tradition one speaks from. I'm familiar with Buddhist descriptions of a being consisting of deeper and deeper layers, like that of an onion, which they wish to unravel and explore, and how some of these are said (by those I've talked to) to survive death and dictate rebirth, while others are far more temporary.

As for astral body- maybe you could specify a bit more. I know of multiple people from various backgrounds that believe they'll exist as a body but not a one made of matter. (Which I'd refer to as a placeholder, as it's a description of a concept rather than a description of detailed content.)

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A spiritual body, or spirit, is Sat-chit-ananda: existence (ie/ life-force), consciousness (knowledge/awareness) and bliss (purest or deepest form of Love). These are the properties of spirit, according to specific religious teachings of course. I do not know how other religions define it.
Is there any mental activity involved in the spirit body? Does it think, having feelings, experience things, or no?
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  #153  
Old 11-02-2011, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Proof?

Evidence?
I can't even prove it to myself, what makes you think I can prove it to anyone else? This is an experience, not a logical conclusion. You have to actually go through a death and rebirth in order to 'get it'.

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And yet it's a major part of religions. This is Religious Forums. Afterlives stopped concerning me quite some time ago, but discussions of what people have to say about it still interest me, as religions in general still interest me.
I would go so far as to say that it is the central part of religion. My religion is based on it nearly completely. The idea that life does not end with death, I mean. Afterlife is simply a term used to describe life after this transformation.

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No, I'm just asking people to be careful with their terms and that those terms:
a) mean something substantial
b) have some sort of basis in evidence before being asserted as claims
I know science does not value experience as stand alone evidence, but that is all the evidence you are ever going to get with this kind of thing. These words we use to describe this don't make the subject any clearer, just point us in the right direction with metaphors. They mean almost nothing compared to actually experiencing what they describe.

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With this sort of topic, it's methodology that people use that intrigues me more than what their conclusions are.
Are you talking methods of thinking, rituals, or what? I enjoy learning different ways to 'get' this life after death thing. Cultures have thought of a few quite interesting ways to teach this, and I can tell you none of them involve making sure the logic is correct, or any evidence of the correctness of their way.
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  #154  
Old 11-02-2011, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
So you believe that when you die, no aspects of Madhuri continue? No memory imprints, no personality imprints, at all, etc? Because if you do believe those do continue in some form, or can be involved later in some way, then this body and mind are a part of you, right?

If I recall, you take a more dvaita interpretation. So rather than believing you will eventually turn into some pure oneness or pure consciousness, you believe you continue to have some form of identity, correct?
The soul/Self has and develops an identity. The journey through material existence is an evolution, where the physical body is an instrument to help develop that permanent identity. 'Madhuri' is only temporary and illusory.
My philosophical understanding is somewhere inbetween dvaita and advaita.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Doesn't make sense to me either, but you've made statements that extend beyond your religion and specifically into all religions when you've suggested that people in general, across religions, don't believe mental activity occurs without brains.
The statements I made regarding other religions comes from what I've learned from people within those religions. I know from them that many do not believe what the OP claims 'most' believe. How they justify that with other aspects of their belief systems is still a mystery to me.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
And most of the explanations I've seen of them involve significant aspects of the mind surviving in some form, therefore the relevance of this thread.
I think this may be for 2 main reasons (correct me if I'm wrong):
1) they may not provide in-depth explanations and definitions, causing confusion. We've already seen this occur within this thread.
2) They are Christian or Muslim.

My immediate objection to the OP was in that he claimed 'most religions' have such a belief. But so far I think eastern religions in general, and Judaism as well do not have the belief the OP thinks they do. Granted that Islam and Christianity have the largest followings. But the OP stated most 'religions'. This is even discounting the fact that there are some members of Islam and Christianity who also would refute the claims of the OP (as some Christians already have in this thread).

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Astral bodies with minds that are directly related to the mind that's currently in the brain. It's another example of a mind still being relevant after the brain has been destroyed, and therefore directly related to the OP.
I'm not sure about that. As an example, the world around us affects our material mind. In a similar way, all that affects the material mind affects the astral mind. Similarly, anything affecting the astral mind affects the spirit/soul. There is a relationship between each layer of self, by they are also quite distinct.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Sorry for the lack of clarity in my question- I was asking you to comment on your previous statements regarding what people believe about mental activity and the necessity of brains- and how people that propose that awareness or consciousness can exist independently of having any body at all, relates to those statements.
I am not sure that awareness can exist without any sort of body. Even monists think of themselves as merging into the 'body' of God.
I should clarify that a soul is not just consciousness. But consciousness is a major aspect of soul/spirit.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
So what is the form of information transfer involved? How does it take physical information- like that stored in memories or personality or experiences, and encode it onto an astral body or other medium? As soon as an explanation involves the material world in some way, which this seems to, it enters the realm of evidence and testability.
I have no idea, unfortunately. It may have nothing to do with memory for all I know. Spiritual progression (I am not necessarily speaking of that caused by religious practice, but simply the natural evolution of the self) opens the individual to all sorts of things outside of the confines of time and space. For all that anybody knows, a person remembering their past life may actually be experiencing a memory from someone else's life. The realm of spirit is characterised by knowledge/awareness. Tapping into it means becoming aware of absolutely anything and eventually even everything. Yogic practices are designed to open that awareness (the physical body is the instrument to make this happen). Eventually, that other reality comes to seem much more real than the material world, which allows the individual to become detached from material nature.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
And a subset of this has to do with a mind surviving death of the brain. If impressions from life are being stored and kept on some other medium, and those things have anything to do with personality or memories, then it's a matter of mental activity surviving and existing to some extent independently of the brain.
It's like a mind connected to a mind until one mind (the material) dies. I have no idea about the mechanics.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Depends on what tradition one speaks from. I'm familiar with Buddhist descriptions of a being consisting of deeper and deeper layers, like that of an onion, which they wish to unravel and explore, and how some of these are said (by those I've talked to) to survive death and dictate rebirth, while others are far more temporary.
There are layers also in Hindu thought, though I do not know how it compares with Buddhist philosophy. Layers in Hinduism are not so many. There are the three main ones I have mentioned so far. It is much more complex than I have explained but I am not so well educated. My knowledge is very basic.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
As for astral body- maybe you could specify a bit more. I know of multiple people from various backgrounds that believe they'll exist as a body but not a one made of matter. (Which I'd refer to as a placeholder, as it's a description of a concept rather than a description of detailed content.)
Exactly, astral is different from matter just as it is different from spirit. Spirit is the original or permanent. Astral is a derivative of spirit and matter is a derivative of astral. All that means to me is that it comes from, but I cannot explain more than that due to my lack of knowledge. One thing I can remember about astral bodies is that they can appear similar or the same as the physical body it last was linked with but it can transform. The closer you get to spirit, the more of your world will be influenced or transformed through consciousness/will.

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Originally Posted by Penumbra View Post
Is there any mental activity involved in the spirit body? Does it think, having feelings, experience things, or no?
I think yes, with the exception of monists who believe they merge into God. I have much less knowledge about spirit experience. I can tell you that there is complete awareness, so that the individual may be consciousness of all things in the same or similar way that we think God does. There is the experience of Bliss, or love, which is the sense of being united wholly with all of existence. I cannot comment on how thought and experience difference relative to our current form of thought and perception.
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  #155  
Old 11-03-2011, 04:57 PM
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  #156  
Old 11-04-2011, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Quagmire View Post
Any way you look at it there are 3 positions: yes, no, and we don't know.
Nonsense. There are only the first two options. The state of our knowledge is what it is regardless of those options. So "we don't know" is not an alternative position. Nobody here is claiming to know for certain whether the mind can survive death, but we can observe causal relationships between brain activity and awareness.

Quote:
It doesn't gloss over anything. If anything it puts all of the above in it's proper perspective. To say that you personally feel that the evidence for your position justifies a certain amount of certainty is fine. But "We can" doesn't mean "we must" or even "we should".
Feel free to propose alternative hypotheses to explain observed facts. If you take a position in an argument, people will expect you to defend it. If you choose not to engage in the discussion, nobody is holding a gun to your head.

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The viability of the available evidence as well as what it all adds up to is an individual, subjective judgement call.
I suppose it would be too much to ask you to try to address or refute the specific reasons I gave for my position. You cannot deny the fact that brain trauma tends to lead to loss of consciousness. Self-awareness and other advanced cognitive activity in humans and other intelligent animals can even be correlated with the physical development of the prefrontal cortex. The evidence is pretty overwhelming that mental activity is caused by brain activity.

Quote:
Support is a vague term and considering the topic, whether or not the evidence supports the claim is completely subjective. That being the case as far as I'm concerned MeMyself's post still fits under option 3.
My position also fits under "option 3", because it isn't really an option. We are talking about why it is reasonable to believe that minds depend on working brains for their existence, and the evidence I have provided is not subjective. You are simply denying the obvious.

Quote:
If by "project" you mean "propose" or "consider", sure. We should do that with all the options, IMO.
Yes. That's a novel idea for you. We could consider actually have a discussion rather than just dismissing opinions without weighing the arguments given in support of them.

Quote:
In any case, putting aside the probability of any of the options for a moment, the whole point of the post of mine that you responded to was this:

If someone claims that there is no life after death, or even that it's more likely that awareness ends with death, it's up to that person to explain why they believe that.
Yes. I did that in the OP and have been doing it with people who have raised specific objections.

Quote:
If someone challenges that claim, it's up to the claimant to defend it. If all the claimant does in defense of their claim is point to the opposing side and suggest that it's up to them to disprove his claim, otherwise it has to be considered valid by default, no, sorry. That's a completely invalid defense.
And that is a completely false picture of what has been going on here. I have not argued that people who believe in life after death have to meet a burden of proof. I have given specific reasons why I think that the mind ceases to exist when the brain dies, and I have tried to defend my points to those who have challenged them. You, OTOH, have said nothing specific at all on this topic--just that you reject my argument.

Quote:
Claimant: "Life/awareness ends with death"
Challenger: "Show how the evidence suggests this"
Claimant: "I don't have to, it's up to the other guys to prove me wrong".
See what I'm saying?
Absolutely, and it is an utterly false characterization of my argument. If you have thoughts about what I have actually said, I'm sure that we'd all love to hear them.
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  #157  
Old 11-04-2011, 11:51 PM
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Most religions depend on the belief that mental activity can occur independently of brains. What one thinks of as the "soul" or "spirit" is a thinking being that can operate independently of a body. Nevertheless, the evidence continues to mount that there is absolutely no mental activity that occurs independently of brain activity. It does not contradict the idea of dualism to say that minds are dependent on brains for their existence, but it does contradict the idea that a mind can survive brain-death.

In the last few decades, scientists have been able to explore the tight connection between thought and brain activity through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. MRI merely shows where blood concentrates in the brain when mental activity is taking place, and scientists can actually take videos of dynamic activity in the brain during specifically targeted thinking patterns. Scientists have now, for the first time, correlated dreams with volitional behavior. While this kind of experimental evidence does not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that mental activity depends on brain activity, it does seem to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Can you prove that you are not the only mind in the universe and all the rest (including the guy who posted this) are just zombies?
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  #158  
Old 11-05-2011, 01:29 AM
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Can you prove that you are not the only mind in the universe and all the rest (including the guy who posted this) are just zombies?
If you exist, then I don't need to prove it. If you don't exist, then I needn't bother trying to argue with you.
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Old 11-05-2011, 02:23 AM
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If you exist, then I don't need to prove it. If you don't exist, then I needn't bother trying to argue with you.
Just a little bit of tongue and cheek there, but what sits best with me is the Anthropic Principle in its weaker with the mind just being an emergent property of heightened complexity and the brain just happens to be the most complex known entity in nature. So it is no surprise that we find expression of mind there. I should think that if your parents had never met (which is a near impossibly lottery anyway that they did happen to meet) you would be born to some other parents. You cannot be the least bit aware of any of the failed states to exist and the failed states of existence outnumber the successful states by such a large exponential number it would be virtually impossible to calculate. Even if the unsuccessful states of one's existence outnumber the successful ones in the order of a “googolplexian” you still cannot be aware of one nanosecond of them.

Just think for instance of the 13.7 billion years from the Big Bang to your birth you would have no concept of just a great delay of your non existence if you had never read up on any of the scientific findings such as the measuring of the Hubble constant with the brightness of Cepheid variables in distant galaxies. In keeping with the Athropic principle there really only needs to be the one mind for the universe to generate awareness of its own existence which happens to be you but who’s to say that as soon as that is switched off at death then totally oblivious to you, you switch to another brain in other timeframe which could well be in the past relative to this life and not the future until you personally experience every person that ever existed and ever will exist as daunting as that may seem. With no possible memory recollection of this life when you die you will have no idea which timeframe you belong to.

Time is not a force that drives reality forward, in fact time is not a force at all but rather it is just a static dimension like the other three physical dimensions.
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Old 11-05-2011, 10:55 AM
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St. Giordano Bruno, I have no idea why you think that the "Anthropic Principle" is relevant to this discussion, so I have no comment on that. "I" would not be born of other parents, because what makes me "me" is my physical body--grown according to the specification of my DNA--and my unique interaction with my physical surroundings. A different body and set of circumstances would produce a different individual. Everyone is unique, and everyone goes through their own periods of consciousness and sense of self. There is no reason to believe that minds such as ours would be anything other than emergent properties of physical brains.

You may try to speculate that the universe is something like a gigantic physical brain that produces a "mind" of some sort, but I just don't see any justification for it. Our intelligence is unique to moving bodies--animals that compete for survival in a specific type of environment. Brains evolved over time as guidance systems that served the survival needs of our types of bodies. Minds, among other things, specialize in imagination--an ability to predict future outcomes. They make it possible for our type of animal to find nourishment and avoid danger long enough to produce offspring. The universe itself just isn't the kind of thing that would likely develop or need a mind to survive.

Last edited by Copernicus; 11-05-2011 at 10:58 AM..
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