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Am I dead?


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Take a period in my past: I have documentary evidence and ( probably  but not necessarily )some memories  that show I was alive .

 

Now  take any moment in that timeframe  and the odds are that I have no memory at all of it and yet  logically I must have been alive then because this moment occurred in the middle of a timeframe in which I know(and it can be shown) I was alive.

 

So if I was alive at that particular moment  has that person who was alive then now died?

 

To extrapolate ( or just generalize) are our lives a succession of experiences characterized   by a feeling of being an individual ,each one of which effectively   dies unless it is remembered  later on with sufficient  force to create an apparent (misleading?) link with the later  individual  doing the  remembering ?

 

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1 minute ago, geordief said:

To extrapolate ( or just generalize) are our lives a succession of experiences characterized   by a feeling of being an individual ,each one of which effectively   dies unless it is remembered  later on with sufficient  force to create an apparent (misleading?) link with the later  individual  doing the  remembering ?

 

It might be simpler to compare yourself to a tree. It was a seed, then a seedling, then a sapling, then a tree, for some period of time - maybe as long as 4000 years, maybe as short as 20. As far as we know, it has no memory of any of that time. But birds lived in its branches, ate its fruit, spread its seeds. People and other animals have rested in its shade. It has taken nutrients from the soil and shed leaves on it. It may harbour all manner of insect life which would have n habitat otherwise. 

What is present in the world, alive or not, is in the world, exactly as itself; it affects the world around it exactly as itself and not some other entity, whether it's aware or not, whether it retains knowledge of the experience or not. And if it's alive, it goes on being alive while it's asleep, unconscious or suffering from Alzheimer's, right up until the moment that it dies. The continuity of the individual doesn't depend the individual's knowledge, only its presence.

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No. Consider a camp fire. Does it go out, each time a stick is burnt? No. The fire is an event, not an instantaneous thing. You can't have a camp fire, without lighting it, feeding it and eventually letting it burn out. 

People are like the fire. We are an event, not an instantaneous thing. So we have a beginning and an end and exist over a time period.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

It might be simpler to compare yourself to a tree. It was a seed, then a seedling, then a sapling, then a tree, for some period of time - maybe as long as 4000 years, maybe as short as 20. As far as we know, it has no memory of any of that time. But birds lived in its branches, ate its fruit, spread its seeds. People and other animals have rested in its shade. It has taken nutrients from the soil and shed leaves on it. It may harbour all manner of insect life which would have n habitat otherwise. 

What is present in the world, alive or not, is in the world, exactly as itself; it affects the world around it exactly as itself and not some other entity, whether it's aware or not, whether it retains knowledge of the experience or not. And if it's alive, it goes on being alive while it's asleep, unconscious or suffering from Alzheimer's, right up until the moment that it dies. The continuity of the individual doesn't depend the individual's knowledge, only its presence.

Yes  , thanks and that is convincing.So my problem really is just with memory?

Whilst an amazing tool ,when it lets you down  it can give the illusion that the former "you" has died .

Mind you ,I think it may be a genuine philosophical  question as to whether the past is completely " dead"or if it "lives on" in an unfolding present(too hard for me)

 

....unless that is just the same question

12 minutes ago, mistermack said:

No. Consider a camp fire. Does it go out, each time a stick is burnt? No. The fire is an event, not an instantaneous thing. You can't have a camp fire, without lighting it, feeding it and eventually letting it burn out. 

People are like the fire. We are an event, not an instantaneous thing. So we have a beginning and an end and exist over a time period.

Actually, I would be more inclined to use the term "event" to describe the more instantaneous occurrences of  an ongoing grouping of connected events (a fire or a life )

 

So I would not say our lives are events.

 

But this is the philosophy section and so words here mean just what we want them to mean ...

Or ,this is the philosophy  section and we have to pin down each word and each meaning every step of the way

 

:)

Edited by geordief
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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, geordief said:

Yes  , thanks and that is convincing.So my problem really is just with memory?

Whilst an amazing tool ,when it lets you down  it can give the illusion that the former "you" has died .

Mind you ,I think it may be a genuine philosophical  question as to whether the past is completely " dead"or if it "lives on" in an unfolding present(too hard for me)

I imagine a clear sky out into space and the photons reflecting out into space all the visible events occurring on Earth, like a never ending movie. We are the stones thrown into a pond, and our actions are the ripples on the water, which move through time long after we are gone. Even when we are dead there will still be ongoing consequences from our existence.

Edited by StringJunky
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2 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

I imagine a clear sky out into space and the photons reflecting out into space all the visible events occurring on Earth, like a never ending movie. We are the stones thrown into a pond, and our actions are the ripples on the water, which move through time long after we are gone. Even when we are dead there will still be consequences from our existence.

So many consequences and so little import.

 

Like a  Heston Blumenthal  recipe.

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Perhaps our self is a bit like the Ship of Theseus.  Many parts change, are lost, are replaced, but there's a continuity we call "me."

 

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3 minutes ago, TheVat said:

Perhaps our self is a bit like the Ship of Theseus.  Many parts change, are lost, are replaced, but there's a continuity we call "me."

 

I think that is the "received wisdom" that I was questioning.

It was feeling to me as if part of that Ship was sunk without trace.or got lost in its Bermuda Triangle.

 

But my line is now that it is a trick of the mind  because we rely so much on memory for our sense of identity(well it makes practical sense too)

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, geordief said:

I think that is the "received wisdom" that I was questioning.

It was feeling to me as if part of that Ship was sunk without trace.or got lost in its Bermuda Triangle.

 

But my line is now that it is a trick of the mind  because we rely so much on memory for our sense of identity(well it makes practical sense too)

Memory gives us the flow of time. A friend's mother, who is about stage 3 of 4 Alzheimer's has a memory of just a few minutes, is repeatedly executing the same thoughts and actions. Every minute she hums, before that it was "Oh God".  Gradually steering towards a single perpetual moment, surrounded by nothing.

Edited by StringJunky
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Well you may question it.  The dimension of time seems to be critical, in this inquiry.   If a person is seen as a temporal 4D worm extending through decades, then some segments could be not be accessed by our awareness but we still may have a broader awareness of the worm.  Maybe it's not so much a trick of the mind as it's the natural extension of the mind through time.  Like if I'm at the beach and parts of my body are buried in sand yet I still sense that I'm a complete body.  That will seem more than a trick of tactile and proprioception and so on.  But, yes, we could all be deceived on this, all too easily.  (Now I must extend the worm of "me" into the kitchen)

10 minutes ago, geordief said:

I think that is the "received wisdom" that I was questioning.

It was feeling to me as if part of that Ship was sunk without trace.or got lost in its Bermuda Triangle.

 

But my line is now that it is a trick of the mind  because we rely so much on memory for our sense of identity(well it makes practical sense too)

 

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12 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Memory gives us the flow of time. A friend's mother, who is about stage 3 of 4 Alzheimer's has a memory of just a few minutes, is repeatedly executing the same thoughts and actions. Every minute she hums, before that it was "Oh God".  Gradually steering towards a single perpetual moment, surrounded by nothing.

Yes ,what do they say ...

 

a picture  is worth a  thousand words.

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1 hour ago, geordief said:

Actually, I would be more inclined to use the term "event" to describe the more instantaneous occurrences of  an ongoing grouping of connected events (a fire or a life )

No such thing as an instantaneous occurrence. In a zero time interval, nothing can happen.

I know what you mean, a lifetime can be considered a series of events. But that applies to any event, you can break it down to smaller events. But in the context of the age of the universe, a human lifetime is a very brief event, of no consequence at all, and not worth dividing up into smaller events. 

So the word event is flexible. But the one thing it doesn't mean, is an intantaneous snapshot.

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1 hour ago, geordief said:

Mind you ,I think it may be a genuine philosophical  question as to whether the past is completely " dead"or if it "lives on" in an unfolding present(too hard for m

'The past' is a whole different concept from 'the individual'. Individual entities, sentient and living or mineral and inert, exist in time. The past exists nowhere except in language, imagination, memory - in abstract creations of the mind. The past, speed, love, philosophy, grammar, civil rights, evil, the taste of potatoes - none of these concepts exist in the way that a physical entity exists.  The past can be neither alive nor dead (nothing that has not been alive can be dead); it is the nebulous product of memory.

 

1 hour ago, geordief said:

But my line is now that it is a trick of the mind  because we rely so much on memory for our sense of identity

Yes, we do. Identity is not the same as memory, which is not the same as individuality. These are aspects of self, while we are selves, but we may not claim them or own them or rely upon them to last as long as our bodies do.

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10 hours ago, geordief said:

I think that is the "received wisdom" that I was questioning.

It was feeling to me as if part of that Ship was sunk without trace.or got lost in its Bermuda Triangle.

 

But my line is now that it is a trick of the mind  because we rely so much on memory for our sense of identity(well it makes practical sense too)

It's a question I've pondered for a while now: I love my food, the taste, the texture and being completely satisfied, the enjotment is X 1000 when I'm very hungry; so I tend to starve myself throughout the day (not very healthy but YOLO), the problem is, I also enjoy a JD.

Now here's the rub; I sometimes have one too many and then eat; the problem is, the next day I can't remember the meal, I know that while drunk my enjoyment of the meal is no different to when I'm sobber (don't ask me how, it's a long explanation and tangential to my point).

I'm me in the moment, but I'm also me because of my memories, so given this spectrum there has to be a point where the meaning of me is meaningless.

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Consciousness is not required for Life.

Many organisms are alive, which are not conscious.

So too, you live a life, and despite being unconscious of some aspect of it, does not mean that you were dead or died (yet).

 

Perhaps the better question is really when you die, and how?  Is death merely the loss of your consciousness?

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People can lose consciousness for the rest of their lives (Coma), yet still live bodily (heart beating, lungs breathing).

But to that person, subjectively, they would not think themselves to be alive as-if life were predicated on consciousness.

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6 minutes ago, Tim Barber said:

Objectively speaking, whatever a person in a coma thinks or does not think is irrelevant. (I spent a week in a coma many years ago after a car wreck). 

So there is a difference between life and consciousness, subjectively experienced versus objectively known.

People tend to focus on Consciousness, as-if it predicates Life.

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