Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


The Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales posted 14 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionThe Case of the Blind Brain and Other Strange Tales by TakLoufer, Candidate

NorthernPlato wrote: I've always believed that the concept of 'soul' as a property that distringuishes individuals to be out of synch with the rest of nature. After reading Plato's Republic many years ago, I was intrigued by his imagery of an afterlife, though it seemed to be counter to what he argued via his idea of forms. Anywho, that night while watching stars cross the sky instead of sleeping, I envisioned a vortex to which we returned when we die. More of an image or concept instead of a concrete place; similar I believe to what nitrogen might perceive itself to be if it could ponder the idea of nitrogen fixation. My belief in the concept of souls is based on the idea that in a closed system energy cannot be created or destroyed (like a law of thermal-dynamics for souls). Basically, at creation, all of the 'energy' that can be used to create a 'soul' already exists and that every person (animal/plant/etc.) does not bring a 'new soul' in existance. Instead, each living organism posseses or accesses a portion of that 'energy'.

Well, this is, in effect, the main gist of Panexperientalism - except, the energy is "alive" with [primordial] experience.

However, because the system is closed and because new organisms are created/destroyed they 'recycle' that energy, leaving an imprint of what came before. This would be why some people might experience what they perceive to be moments of a previous life/existence.

Having read some of Steohen Hawkins' writings on physics and given the idea of time as a constant (if that's the word i'm looking for) that has neither a beginning nor end, (excecpt for how we perceive it) than every possible moment in time already exists for every possible decision we can possibly make.

This isn't to say that free will is percluded, but that it's analogous to a computer program - a user can only make choices that are available to be made according to the program.

Well, pan-ex-ism follows a "process" view of time. Time = process. At every "occasion" of experience, a "prehension" is made; which is a sort of decision. With every decision, a moment of "time" passes. The present is build upon the past. Of course, this doesn't preclude the existence of alternate universe or "might have been" worlds.

The user isn't forced to any particular action, but the ability to chose to perform the action is accounted for. Similarlly, one isn't limited to make choices of which they are aware, it is possible to perform actions one didn't originally understand to be possible. But I seem to have gone off on a tangent here.

Right now, the only misgiving I have had is that existence would therefore not exist as anything more than an instant - that there was never a 'begining' to the system, simply that the existance of the system perpetuates itself, that there is no 'after' for an individual, at least not as we could perceive it. Because we would all be part of the system, we are therefore one and the same at the most basic level. Hence our need for community, language, culture, development, laws,religion,etc. which can be seen in almost all forms of life on earth and arguably in larger scale via planetary systems, galaxies and their specific anatomy.
I could go on typing for hours really, and sometimes I believe that perhaps I should, but frustration at wanting it just to be done (re: laziness, not a very positive attribute in an asipiring author..ha!) always seems to get in the way and I lose the will to continue. If one continues the argument long enough, it becomes a justification for rules of conduct with others, as any wrong done to others it a wrong done to the self.

Thank you for bearing with me and I'm interested in hearing the thoughts of everyone here. Not many people I know have a penchant for such discourse.

Interesting. Here are a couple links to pages that involve a rather intriging argument from an materialist atheistic perspective. It involves the enduring nature of subjectivity. While I disagree with the materialist assumptions, the underlying idea is that the "I" is, in effect, immortal. Memories may come and go, personalities . . . lives, being a man, women, dog, bacterium . . . but the "I" remains.




Replay wrote: Well it really comes to just what you mean when the subject of a soul if brought up. If you mean that each of us has some individual thing that doesnt change and moves from life to life, I would argue against that. But if you are talking about something that is inate to all of us, then I would perhaps agree.

Keeping with the whirlpool analogy, you could say that the universe (or more specifically, that which moves it) is like a river (though i prefer to think of it more as an ocean) and that when certain conditions arise, a whirpool is formed in it just like a normal river. This whirlpool travels along the river for a while, moving around and changing shape as other bits of the river come into contact with it. Soon though it begins to run out of energy and starts to disipate. And where there was once a whirlpool, now there is just the river again.

What I am saying is that the soul or spirit is the river itself, and that deep down, all we are are just manifestations of it. It also shows an interesting point that in a way there really is no such thing as death, because if we are the river itself, we know that we will born again in infinite different forms.

Now how this relates to the afterlife, i've no idea. If there is such a thing, it could perhaps be that when the main body of the whirlpool disipates, some residual energy is left over, and thus we have what are called spirits. But I would perhaps argue that in the end, even these will finally disipate and one again become part of the great river of life.

I've been thinking about this. On one hand, the evidence, taken as a whole, does suggest that personalities can survive death. OTOH, people with brain damage, on drugs, Alzheimer’s, etc, suffer memory loss and changes in their personality. <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->

If one sticks with a "defocusing of consciousness" hypothesis, then one must explain the existence of EVP (and "ghost" phenomena in general), the mediumship of Leonora Piper and D.D. Home (among others), Ian Stevenson's reincarnation case studies - not to mention veridical (and, admitingly, anecdotal) reports of out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences (both of which can be explained in terms of telepathy). Read Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality by Griffin and Immortal Remains by Braude for more evidence - the evidence, to my dismay (sort of, I'm more annoyed/excited) seems to hold up pretty well under scrutiny.

But, if one takes the position that the personality survives, then they must explain why we appear to need a brain to maintain our identity.

I think I have a theory that may serve as a solution, sort of.

The ganzfeld experiments, which, IMO, have, for all intents and purposes, proved the existence of telepathy, show that "thoughts" (and, by extension, memories) are "nonlocal" - they can be "picked up" in any location, and can, apparently, even be "sent" beyond time (maybe).

Ever wake up, and know you just had a really weird dream, but you just can't remember any of the details? I have a feeling that our brains "focus" our consciousness and make our minds more "defined," but, as a result, more limited. Take, for example, being knocked unconscious. For the sake of argument, assume that when you are knocked unconscious, you "revert" to your "higher self," "astral body," whatever. You, in this less limited form, do whatever it is you do (fly around, talk to dead people, whatever). Then, your body retains "consciousness." As your mind seats itself back into its brain, it has no memory of its out-of-body-experience while the body was unconscious. Why? Because the brain is not able to access these memories. They're there, but, while you are in your body, are inaccessible to you. Therefore, from your perspective, while you are in your body, you were in "oblivion" while you were "unconscious." Much the same way an amnesiac will view their entire life as "oblivion," or a "blank slate" . . . memory makes all of the difference.

Also, while in the brain, a mind is affected by whatever the brain "accesses." If a drug is administered, the neuronal individuals of the brain will create certain occasions which will cause the mind (the compound individual) to experience certain effects. If the brain is damage, the mind will suffer certain limitations as its ability to access certain memories and mental skills is diminished - however, "out" of the brain, these memories and abilities may be more accessible, just as they can be accessed through telepathy and (possibly) mediumship.

Of course, a skeptic will say this theory is begging the question as it assumes the mind can survive, in some personable coherency, apart from the brain. If one takes this assumption, then one can come up with any number of theories. But my theory is merely trying to make sense of the evidence. I admit that "defocusing" or "melting" back into the universal consciousness is more sensible.

Of course, no doubt you are right that this does happen, inevitably. Though, if one regards the evidence, it appears this process of depersonalization may occur gradually. view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown