Jump to content
Yoseph

Reincarnation

Recommended Posts

If you just think that you have an Infinite amount of time to be reincarnated, how can your conciousness not come about again? In whatever form it may be, maybe in some bizarre universe completely different from ours. Surely anything can happen in an infinite amount of time? Or is that changing the question to "is there an infinite amount of time?"...

How does having an infinite amount of time guarantee anything happening a second time? Or even a first? What is the logic that leads from 'infinite time' to 'come about again'?

 

How does an infinite amount of time lead to 'anything happening'? Given an infinite amount of time will the physics of the universe change?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reasoning by analogy and extension from it gives us very good grounds for saying that consciousness is entirely tied to its material foundation in the nervous system of the human body. If you suffer a small injury to the physical basis of your consciousness you will become temporarily unconsciousness and experience nothing for a while. If you suffer a larger injury to this physical basis yoy may not only become unconscious for a while, but also wake up with permanent neurological deficits which forever more make you less conscious than you used to be. If you suffer a very much larger injury to the material basis of awareness you may well enter a permanent state of unconsciousness in a persistent vegetative state. Finally, if your head is exploded in some accident and you suffer the ultimate undermining of the physical basis of consciousness, then there will be no positive evidence that you are conscious -- which seems logical, since in all the previous stages, the greater the insult to the physical basis of consciousness, the more your consciousness was reduced.

 

So the most natural inference from this continuum is that the ultimate injury to the physical basis of consciousness, i.e., death, will also mean the ultimate suppression of consciousness, i.e., utter nothingness. So we have no reason to posit the existence of a soul or any awareness that persists beyond the physical support of awareness, and so there is no persisting platform of consciousness beyond the physical body to support the connection between a dead person and one now alive, as reincarnation requires.

What about these stories you hear of people having near death experiences and looking at themselves from outside their body? Obviously that could be a type of dreaming that occurs in a state of trauma as the brain attempts to subconsciously distance itself from pain. However, what if indeed consciousness is something that seeks out bodies because of the special functionality that comes with having sensory input combined with motor-control over appendages for manipulating material objects? Granted, you would expect that if this was possible, there would be some empirical trace of consciousness when it transcends a body, but then how can we know exactly what to look for either? Certainly it's easier to dismiss the possibility as implausible, but what happens when you start speculating about possible channels, however implausible? E.g. you could ask how a temporarily dead person could see their bodies during an OBE if they didn't have eyes to look through, but what if consciousness can project visual images to go with sounds heard or other energy it can somehow receive? When you are dreaming, for example, your sub-conscious can create visual images to go along with sounds/voices you hear while asleep.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about these stories you hear of people having near death experiences and looking at themselves from outside their body? Obviously that could be a type of dreaming that occurs in a state of trauma as the brain attempts to subconsciously distance itself from pain. However, what if indeed consciousness is something that seeks out bodies because of the special functionality that comes with having sensory input combined with motor-control over appendages for manipulating material objects? Granted, you would expect that if this was possible, there would be some empirical trace of consciousness when it transcends a body, but then how can we know exactly what to look for either? Certainly it's easier to dismiss the possibility as implausible, but what happens when you start speculating about possible channels, however implausible? E.g. you could ask how a temporarily dead person could see their bodies during an OBE if they didn't have eyes to look through, but what if consciousness can project visual images to go with sounds heard or other energy it can somehow receive? When you are dreaming, for example, your sub-conscious can create visual images to go along with sounds/voices you hear while asleep.

 

This is the thing about trying to understand reality. We have imaginations, very powerful imaginations. We can posit an impressive array of explanations for any given phenomenon.

 

How we can start to tell which explanations might be true requires parsimony, aka "Occam's Razor". If we don't need an entity to explain a phenomenon, we should leave it out. This doesn't mean that such entities have been debunked or dis-proven, simply set aside as unnecessary.

 

This should leave us with only that which we have some evidence for, albeit sometimes with with un-evidenced entities that can be falsified.

 

As for the subject itself, I am leery of accepting anecdotes as even suggestions of evidence because of the subject matter - that of the instinct driven avoidance of death, in this case by positing one can transcend it and live again. There is simply far too much room for denial, projection and disassociation (as well as straight up lies and deception) for anecdotes to be considered.

 

All we have left, then, is the evidence we can re-observe and the experiments reproducible. Change the meat, change the personality. Watch the personality act, see the meat act. Affect the meat, affect the personality. The self seems to be the meat. Thus, no evidence for reincarnation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me, reincarnation has to do directly with the experience of seeing someone else dying quietly. The one moment, the old relative is there in his bed, talking. The next instant, he is dead. Life has abandonned his body. What has changed? Why is it impossible to input back "life" in a dead body, as dreamed by Dr Frankenstein? Where is life gone? Where is the energy gone, that made the elder think and speak a moment ago? It must be somewhere, it is impossible to be gone just like that... and there comes reincarnation.

 

What to say against that.

It is very bad feeling for the ones next the lifeless body. Total incomprehension. Most of the time, they are continuing to talk to the dead person for a while. Some continue talking after burrial. Some even talk to round tables and to playing cards.

 

The thing IMHO is not to step from incomprehension into belief. It is one thing to not understand something, and another thing to accept any explanation just because you don't understand what is happening.

If one comes to you and say that life is retained by soul, and that each soul goes to Valhalla, you wouldn't like it. If someone else tells you souls go and burn for infinity into Hell, you woudn't like it either. You would prefer the good solution of being reborned and live again.

 

That will be your choice. That will not be an explanation.

 

How does having an infinite amount of time guarantee anything happening a second time? Or even a first? What is the logic that leads from 'infinite time' to 'come about again'?

 

How does an infinite amount of time lead to 'anything happening'? Given an infinite amount of time will the physics of the universe change?

 

Very interesting question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How we can start to tell which explanations might be true requires parsimony, aka "Occam's Razor". If we don't need an entity to explain a phenomenon, we should leave it out. This doesn't mean that such entities have been debunked or dis-proven, simply set aside as unnecessary.

I understand the logic of Occam's Razor but ultimately it is an aesthetic of thought and not a physical law. Nothing about nature dictates that things will have any less complexity than they do in practice. DNA code, for example, doesn't consolidate itself by editing down to the shortest possible code sequence any more than computer programmers do.

 

This should leave us with only that which we have some evidence for, albeit sometimes with with un-evidenced entities that can be falsified.

Yes, the goal of science should be to generate falsifiable theories and testable hypotheses, not insistent logics that attain veracity in practice by being convincing in their plausibility, etc.

 

As for the subject itself, I am leery of accepting anecdotes as even suggestions of evidence because of the subject matter - that of the instinct driven avoidance of death, in this case by positing one can transcend it and live again. There is simply far too much room for denial, projection and disassociation (as well as straight up lies and deception) for anecdotes to be considered.

Denial of death is a funny accusation. After all, materialism has worked very hard to assert the primacy of material objects over subjectivity. So obviously that philosophy has an interest in insisting that the body and the entity are coterminous, that subjectivity/consciousness are nothing more than superstructures of the material body, etc. That can't be ruled out, but I also think it's not good argumentation to begin with an a priori assumption that the body is everything and then accuse any belief that regards consciousness as exceeding the material body as denial of its own death. The fact is that it's simply impossible to observe the death of consciousness because it is impossible to observe the life of consciousness except from one's own perspective as a conscious being. Body death IS observable, which provides positive certainty that is tempting to apply to subjectivity/consciousness as well.

 

All we have left, then, is the evidence we can re-observe and the experiments reproducible. Change the meat, change the personality. Watch the personality act, see the meat act. Affect the meat, affect the personality. The self seems to be the meat. Thus, no evidence for reincarnation.

I don't really understand what you mean by actions of personality vs. meat. How can "the meat act" without that simultaneously being an action of the personality? The part that makes me skeptical of consciousness transcending the body is I just can't figure out a plausible physical form that could travel around outside of a body, e.g. patterns of static electricity. There would have to be some way for consciousness to leave the body and propagate itself externally until it could find a fetus of suitable developmental age to implant into.

Edited by lemur

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I understand the logic of Occam's Razor but ultimately it is an aesthetic of thought and not a physical law. Nothing about nature dictates that things will have any less complexity than they do in practice. DNA code, for example, doesn't consolidate itself by editing down to the shortest possible code sequence any more than computer programmers do.
Good thing I never claimed that.

Thought it's not an aesthetic - it's a useful tool. Keeps one from chasing shadows.

 

 

Denial of death is a funny accusation. After all, materialism has worked very hard to assert the primacy of material objects over subjectivity. So obviously that philosophy has an interest in insisting that the body and the entity are coterminous, that subjectivity/consciousness are nothing more than superstructures of the material body, etc. That can't be ruled out, but I also think it's not good argumentation to begin with an a priori assumption that the body is everything and then accuse any belief that regards consciousness as exceeding the material body as denial of its own death. The fact is that it's simply impossible to observe the death of consciousness because it is impossible to observe the life of consciousness except from one's own perspective as a conscious being. Body death IS observable, which provides positive certainty that is tempting to apply to subjectivity/consciousness as well.
What?

I'm talking about the observed and demonstrable behavior of the majority of human beings - where the nexus of the instinct to preserve one's self with the ability to predict the inevitability of death induces a state of denial.

 

 

I don't really understand what you mean by actions of personality vs. meat. How can "the meat act" without that simultaneously being an action of the personality? The part that makes me skeptical of consciousness transcending the body is I just can't figure out a plausible physical form that could travel around outside of a body, e.g. patterns of static electricity. There would have to be some way for consciousness to leave the body and propagate itself externally until it could find a fetus of suitable developmental age to implant into.

Not versus, the personality is the meat. Or, more accurately, the personality is an emergent property of the meat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good thing I never claimed that.

Thought it's not an aesthetic - it's a useful tool. Keeps one from chasing shadows.

But it's an aesthetic reason to avoid chasing shadows. If someone really wants to chase shadows, science provides the means to investigate what the actual effects of a shadow can and can't be.

 

What?

I'm talking about the observed and demonstrable behavior of the majority of human beings - where the nexus of the instinct to preserve one's self with the ability to predict the inevitability of death induces a state of denial.

In order to call something denial, you have to know that it is true. You are implying truth by claiming denial. That's putting the cart before the horse. Or maybe I should say you're claiming denial of a shadow where there's no proof of light to begin with.

 

Not versus, the personality is the meat. Or, more accurately, the personality is an emergent property of the meat.

I know that materialism postulates that subjectivity is an emergent property of the physical body, but what basis do you have for claiming this as an objective fact that goes beyond the axioms of the paradigm? Really, I'm not denying the plausibility of your claim - just questioning the ultimate scientific veracity of it b/c I don't think there's any positive proof available to make any conclusions about the relationship between body materiality and subjectivity.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But it's an aesthetic reason to avoid chasing shadows. If someone really wants to chase shadows, science provides the means to investigate what the actual effects of a shadow can and can't be.
:rolleyes:

 

 

In order to call something denial, you have to know that it is true. You are implying truth by claiming denial. That's putting the cart before the horse. Or maybe I should say you're claiming denial of a shadow where there's no proof of light to begin with.
One only has to believe to deny, no need to actually know. Frankly, the behavior can be triggered without even belief, just a fear that it might be true.

 

 

I know that materialism postulates that subjectivity is an emergent property of the physical body, but what basis do you have for claiming this as an objective fact that goes beyond the axioms of the paradigm? Really, I'm not denying the plausibility of your claim - just questioning the ultimate scientific veracity of it b/c I don't think there's any positive proof available to make any conclusions about the relationship between body materiality and subjectivity.
You mean the repeatable experiments of modifying the brain (structurally or chemically) that then modifies the personality, observable via behavior? Evidence as basis for a conclusion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:rolleyes:

All that attitude accomplishes is to make subjective aesthetics of plausibility a filter for what should and shouldn't be subject to scientific rigor. I think you should separate the dogmatic aspects of materialism as an epistemological paradigm from the application of science as empirically accountable critical philosophy.

 

One only has to believe to deny, no need to actually know. Frankly, the behavior can be triggered without even belief, just a fear that it might be true.

I don't think anyone denies that material bodies die, hearts stop, etc. What is denied is that bodily death automatically amounts to death of consciousness/spirit. But you are denying my point about denial, which is that to accuse someone else of denying something, it has to be a proven fact to begin with. Otherwise you're just implying factuality by claiming denial.

 

You mean the repeatable experiments of modifying the brain (structurally or chemically) that then modifies the personality, observable via behavior? Evidence as basis for a conclusion?

How does that prove that consciousness doesn't enter and depart the body? This webpage applet (at least I think it may be an applet) enters my computer and leaves it when I push the send button. It gets modified while in my computer but it doesn't die in my computer unless it is still in the RAM when the power goes off. How can we know that consciousness doesn't upload from and download to bodies when the RAM conditions are ripe for it?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about these stories you hear of people having near death experiences and looking at themselves from outside their body?

 

Hallucinations! Or…

 

1. There is some other sensory mechanism.

2. It is self observing memory of self creating a composite experience creating the illusion that it is an OBE.

There also reports of children that remember past lives which supports the reincarnation idea. In my opinion, NDEs, current life memory, memories of past lives, ghosts, etc., are just part of similar conscious phenomena involving memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The human ego most profoundly fears anything that suggests that it is not eternal. This is ultimately what builds pyramids and cathedrals. It is not surprising, then, that when the ego realizes it has come close to dying, it seeks to paper over its terror at its own extinction by vigorously imagining experiences like having risen up over the body to see its dying physicality below it.

 

The silliness of that story is palpable, however, given that the whole idea that the afterlife or heaven is 'up' relative to ordinary life, so the spirit of the dying person sees its body from above, is just a cultural artifact, since there is no true 'up' or 'down' in space. The Ancient Greeks would have told you the afterlife is 'down' relative to where we live ('the underworld'), so no doubt their own near-death experiences would have them looking up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The human ego most profoundly fears anything that suggests that it is not eternal. This is ultimately what builds pyramids and cathedrals. It is not surprising, then, that when the ego realizes it has come close to dying, it seeks to paper over its terror at its own extinction by vigorously imagining experiences like having risen up over the body to see its dying physicality below it.

 

The silliness of that story is palpable, however, given that the whole idea that the afterlife or heaven is 'up' relative to ordinary life, so the spirit of the dying person sees its body from above, is just a cultural artifact, since there is no true 'up' or 'down' in space. The Ancient Greeks would have told you the afterlife is 'down' relative to where we live ('the underworld'), so no doubt their own near-death experiences would have them looking up!

You're taking this in the philosophy/religion direction. If I did that, I would be accused of hijacking. Still, I think it would be worth discussing the non-arbitrariness of up vs. down metaphysics but it should be a thread in philosophy.

 

As for the bit about ego fearing its own death, that's valid but you could just as easily hypothesize that the ego is a mechanism that drives consciousness to escape the body at the moment threat of destruction becomes too great to stand. The question continues for me: if it could escape the body, where/how would it travel?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

As for the bit about ego fearing its own death, that's valid but you could just as easily hypothesize that the ego is a mechanism that drives consciousness to escape the body at the moment threat of destruction becomes too great to stand. The question continues for me: if it could escape the body, where/how would it travel?

 

 

 

I really don't see why reincarnation must involve your soul actually exiting your body as some sort of spirit and entering into another fetus as people keep saying. I guess the problem really lies with what conciousness actually is, which I'm not sure we know just yet. If you take it to be neural patterns and behaviour which is specific to each person, then I don't see why the same brain activity couldn't be recreated in another brain/medium. I wouldn't like to say that you'd be able to remember your "previous lives", I just can't understand there being an eternal nothingness. As the old saying goes, nothing lasts forever, this should surely include nothing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't see why reincarnation must involve your soul actually exiting your body as some sort of spirit and entering into another fetus as people keep saying.

If the soul doesn't exist, or is not separate from the body, is there any way for the consciousness to move from one body to the next though? While one can imagine, as you suggest, the same mind being "rebuilt" after an eternity or two, would it then be the same mind, or just a similar copy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the soul doesn't exist, or is not separate from the body, is there any way for the consciousness to move from one body to the next though? While one can imagine, as you suggest, the same mind being "rebuilt" after an eternity or two, would it then be the same mind, or just a similar copy?

 

After a long enough time the same, to be honest this is an idea I came up with the other day, I'm still running with it. I was hoping your guys ideas would help mine, I like to learn rather than try and teach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't see why reincarnation must involve your soul actually exiting your body as some sort of spirit and entering into another fetus as people keep saying. I guess the problem really lies with what conciousness actually is, which I'm not sure we know just yet. If you take it to be neural patterns and behaviour which is specific to each person, then I don't see why the same brain activity couldn't be recreated in another brain/medium. I wouldn't like to say that you'd be able to remember your "previous lives", I just can't understand there being an eternal nothingness. As the old saying goes, nothing lasts forever, this should surely include nothing?

So you think that a person could be endowed with similar enough knowledge and personality culture that they would basically be the same person as another person? If that was the case, then why couldn't the same person be "reincarnated" while they were still living?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if we viewed names as descriptions rather than as proper names? Thus if the way I now think and feel is quite close to the way that the historical figure of Diogenes once actually thought and felt, perhpas my name should now be Diogenes(20th cent). Or if Lemur and I are in fact similar in many ways, perhaps we should have names that indicate that similarly, such as Lemur(1) and Lemur(2). If our personal histories and psychologies are nearly the same but our characteristic thought-patters are quite different, then perhaps we should be called Lemur/Marat(p, t(a,b)). Perhaps we should even be made responsible for each other's debts and crimes, credited with each other's training and university degrees, or regarded as being married to each other's spouse, etc., according to how similar or dissimilar our relevant predicates are. Why treat the limits of the physical body as the ultimate reason for distinguishing the assignment of blame, responsibility, friendships, professional ties, and associations to one person or another, rather than letter the more wide-ranging phenomena of a common personality, a common thinking style, or a common emotional history be the reasons for referring these responsibilities to one person or another?

 

When a criminal commits his crime let us say that he has personal history, psychological make-up, and characteristic thinking patterns A. But when he is caught, tried, and punished for his crime, perhaps many years after the criminal act itself, he is now quite different in personal history, psychology, and thought-patters, so let us call his new self B. Then the question arises, what is the justice of punishing B for what A has done, given that these two 'persons' are quite distinct?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When a criminal commits his crime let us say that he has personal history, psychological make-up, and characteristic thinking patterns A. But when he is caught, tried, and punished for his crime, perhaps many years after the criminal act itself, he is now quite different in personal history, psychology, and thought-patters, so let us call his new self B. Then the question arises, what is the justice of punishing B for what A has done, given that these two 'persons' are quite distinct?

Let's say that since no one is born bad, that the original psychological state is passive, so it should be "A" and does not create problems. However if "A" is threatened, then "B" kicks in. Because...

"B" is the self-defense mechanism (and trouble-maker) for the preservation of "A". Therefore...

 

A + B = U

 

Under these conditions, how could you only punish "B" because it is a part of "U"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What if we viewed names as descriptions rather than as proper names? Thus if the way I now think and feel is quite close to the way that the historical figure of Diogenes once actually thought and felt, perhpas my name should now be Diogenes(20th cent). Or if Lemur and I are in fact similar in many ways, perhaps we should have names that indicate that similarly, such as Lemur(1) and Lemur(2). If our personal histories and psychologies are nearly the same but our characteristic thought-patters are quite different, then perhaps we should be called Lemur/Marat(p, t(a,b)). Perhaps we should even be made responsible for each other's debts and crimes, credited with each other's training and university degrees, or regarded as being married to each other's spouse, etc., according to how similar or dissimilar our relevant predicates are. Why treat the limits of the physical body as the ultimate reason for distinguishing the assignment of blame, responsibility, friendships, professional ties, and associations to one person or another, rather than letter the more wide-ranging phenomena of a common personality, a common thinking style, or a common emotional history be the reasons for referring these responsibilities to one person or another?

 

When a criminal commits his crime let us say that he has personal history, psychological make-up, and characteristic thinking patterns A. But when he is caught, tried, and punished for his crime, perhaps many years after the criminal act itself, he is now quite different in personal history, psychology, and thought-patters, so let us call his new self B. Then the question arises, what is the justice of punishing B for what A has done, given that these two 'persons' are quite distinct?

 

You could say consciousness is something we all share, and some people are closer consciously than others. That does not mean to say that you could be punished for each others crimes, as when it comes down to the crime there is a choice in doing it, and there's no way of predicting what someone else would choose, no matter how close consciously they are to the person who did the crime.

 

B is a result of A having gone through prison/punishment. A and B are just different instances of the way someone is, realisticly you're changing with every thought you have. You could say that if the time between A and B was only 1 day, by which point B was really regretful about the crime he did and would never do it again and was really sorry, is it unfair to keep in jail? Which I would say no, jail is actually there to stop people doing crimes in the first place, you don't commit a crime without knowing how long you'll go down for if you get caught.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.