Scientific conjecture about an atheistic conception of the afterlife

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by entelecheia, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. wstewart Registered Member

    I think I didn't understand you there. Could you expand on those thoughts, applying all to Old/New Paul explicitly? (keeping in mind the assumed conditions of unfelt time-gap and retrograde amnesia)

    Thank you, and I hope participants are finding this discussion thread helpful.
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  3. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    Well, the reason we think that it is still the same subject even though he doesn't remember his old identity (and could even have a completely different personality) seem to be that it is still the same structure (otherwise we could equally well assume that some new existence is now the subject of Paul, as if it was, structurally, a completely different body).

    The idea of the unfelt time gap, and continual existence seem to rely on structure. Old Paul is New Paul because it is the same structure. If that is the case, that Old Paul and New Paul is the same subject because it has the same structure, then it seems that the subject finds itself in New Paul exclusively because the subject has properties that belong to that structure.

    If that is the case, that the subject is unique (to that structure) - which it, in my view, has to be, as otherwise all kind of subjects could occupy that same structure, and we can only have one subject per body - then it seems that the subject itself has properties (and the consequence would be that any structure that shares these properties could occupy that subject).
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  5. wstewart Registered Member

    Cyperium's "same structure" criterion of unfelt time-gaps

    re: granting passage of Old Paul to New, without memory

    I think we'd agree that when Old and New Paul are considered in isolation, as in the essay illustration, Old Paul's passage to New is plausible.

    Some correspondents have asserted that episodic memory is necessary for the closure of time-gaps: they say with James, essentially, "Peter's present instantly finds out Peter's past, and never by mistake knits itself on to that of Paul." (The assumption being that Peter has episodic memory after his time-gap, with which to "knit" present onto past.)

    But of course the Old/New Paul illustration subtracts that memory through retrograde amnesia. When I emphasized that loss to correspondents, and asked them if it prevented closure of the Old/New Paul time-gap, they abandoned their assertions. None have raised objection to passage from Old Paul to New. They grant it, even without memory.

    If I read you correctly, you also grant it, yes?


    re: the "same structure" criterion

    There remains the question of bodily uniqueness, or the "same structure", which is your sole criterion of the unfelt time-gap; your unique set of "properties" whereby Nature joins, and passes, Old Paul to New.

    A problem I see with that criterion is that it overlooks the dynamic nature of living organisms. Metabolism continually replaces atoms, and some organs are entirely regenerated, cell-by-cell, over a few years; the entire epidermis over a mere two weeks. Therefore New Paul's body cannot be quite the same structure that sustained Old Paul the day before.

    To get past this problem one might narrow the criterion down to the most essential organ - the brain - and assert that some substructure of the brain has persisted without cellular turnover through the night. (This is your "minor modification" option.)

    The first candidate brain structure that comes to mind may be that of the hippocampus, with its associated cortical traces of episodic memory.

    But that structure was explicitly disrupted in the illustration: hence New Paul's retrograde amnesia.

    What then remains of the "same structure" criterion?
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
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  7. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    It does seem plausible, but I think it seems plausible because of structure. Then again, the same structure could potentially (at least) be in existence at the same time (like identical twins, but even more identical). This would too be a downfall for the structure argument. But then what arguments remains?

    It is my sole criterion in this set of arguments, of course there can be other sets of arguments which has some other criteria of what passes Old Paul to New Paul.

    It could potentially be some other structure than the hippocampus. It could also potentially be some kind of "sum" of all the structures, which remains - at least more or less - the same even though we modify a part of it.

    As I said before though, identical structures occurs all the time in the universe, so it is not very plausible that structure is the main criterion, the criterion should be as unique as the subject, we can't have two unique subjects that are identical (it would be a contradiction), it seems very likely that a subject has to be unique. The trouble is that I don't find any physical criteria for a subject to be unique (at least not without going as far down as the quantum world and the Pauli exclusion principle).

    Does this mean that the process of "who is in which body" has to be unphysical or depend on some physics that we don't yet understand?
  8. wstewart Registered Member

    The same-structure criterion for unfelt time-gaps does seem intractably problematic, at least to me. By what natural means could the criterion be applied?

    1. If some aggregate property were to tag the structure as "essentially the same" across time, that property would persist outside the physical structure itself; "unphysical" as you said. That runs afoul of metaphysical naturalism, and likely Occam's Razor, too.
    2. Alternately, if no such tag were posited, Nature would have to perform some comparison of the structures on either end of the unfelt time-gap. That would call for a calculation and a decision of some sort, and what's worse, time-travel.
    3. And of course there's the ambiguity of sameness across time, as illustrated with debates on the Ship of Theseus. If sameness of the structure is ambiguous for an inanimate object like a ship, how much more so for animates?

    Such problems lead me to think the same-structure criterion just doesn't work.

    Identification of the individual is easier if we look not to static properties, but to the critical and dynamic neurocomputational process of subjectivity. The recursive thalamocortial connections of passive awareness are so vital to personal identity that I think we're justified in associating the individual with their "self-entrant" activity. I don't know how to speak of the individual in the absence of awareness, except poetically.

    An advantage of this "subjectivity criterion" is that identification is not challenged by bodily changes, as the process does not require any particular degree of structural sameness across time. Also this criterion requires no obvious external or incorporeal enforcement.

    However because the self-identification is dynamic, disruption of the dynamic process breaks it.


    Question: Would this disruption of self-identification also disrupt the operation of unfelt time-gaps?

    Keep in mind the fact that this post proposes no alteration to the physical state of things. There's no physical change from previous illustrations, just a different and I think more plausible criterion for self-identification and unfelt time-gaps.
  9. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I think we can agree here that it doesn't depend on structure, however, it isn't obvious how the dynamical process identifies a person. For example; we have two bodies, if we rule out the structural criteria then we have only the dynamical process that makes them unique and different from eachother, keep in mind that the unfelt time-gap is just the same as the gap between two persons (especially since the dynamical process is disrupted), now how the dynamical process could go on after being disrupted into the same "pattern" must depend on the body having the same structure (so we are back to the structural problem). Otherwise a process of subjectivity being disrupted would just as likely occur in any other person in the world (and actually also in any other person in time).

    Indeed we also have a problem of the same dynamical process occuring somewhere else in the world, any physical process or structure can be duplicated, even if they in time would deviate from eachother we still have a time where one subject are two bodies - which is clearly a paradox.

    In my thinking, it seems that there must be a entity or a process which cannot be duplicated in the background of subjectivity. Occam's Razor isn't applicable in this case as we have no simpler solution which explains as much or more. To be honest, I'm not sure if science itself is applicable unless we have a physics at rule which cannot be duplicated (but that goes against a fundamental rule of science - that the results can be duplicated, it would be weird if that wasn't valid of structural systems or dynamic ones).

    Also, come to think about it, Pauli exclusion principle doesn't hinder two identical systems from existing apart from eachother - if I remember correct that was some misunderstanding made more or less popular.

    In quantum entanglement and teleportation it is said that the original is naturally destroyed by the process, perhaps a clue to the underlying process of avoiding two identical copies can be found there?
  10. wstewart Registered Member

    re: enforcing sameness in passage

    The process could conceivably resume in the same body, as with Old/New Paul. And when we consider Old/New Paul in isolation, resumption of Old Paul as New is the most reasonable inference.

    However that illustration intentionally omitted any means of enforcing passage of Old Paul specifically to New. (There was no alternate terminus in the illustration; hence no question of sameness, comparison or enforcement.) Now, you view enforcement of sameness as a given, and as a process in need of explanation, hence exempt from Occam's Razor. But explanation and exemption would be called for only if that enforcement exists. And there's no obvious reason to think it exists.

    Enforcement only seems reasonable until scrutiny opens the box of chaos that enforcement presents. Incorporeal barcode taggers, time-traveling sameness auditors, teleporter clone wars -- can you imagine a philosophy conference devoted to selecting the best enforcer? It would make Burning Man look like a Sunday social.

    No, that chaos could not be the way forward.


    re: And if there were no enforcer, what then?

    I wrote Old/New Paul as an intermediate scenario, one that connects James' Peter-and-Paul to the essay's Nicos-and-Thanos. Old and New Paul present the conditions of conscious end and beginning in James' psychological time-gap terms, which readers typically accept. Afterwards, Nicos and Thanos present these conditions in other terms which readers also typically accept.

    Then I show Old/New Paul to be the contrived and perforce rare case, and Nicos and Thanos to be the more natural and common case -- leading to the inference of existential passage.

    No enforcement of sameness is required, or posited.

    Instead, Nature closes the time-gaps entirely passively, in temporal order, as by default.


    Cyperium, whether you agreed with the reasoning of Ch. 9 or not, was it at least understandable to you? Before moving forward I want to be sure you're presenting a different view, and not a misinterpretation of the essay view.
  11. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    Instead of saying that I understand it or not, I will instead explain what I understand and you can be the judge if I understand it or not. Naturally if I misunderstand something that might not be obvious for me, but might be obvious to you.

    I will outline the most basic aspects of it, that should show my understanding of it (without elaborating on it too much), it is my understanding that...
    1) ...existential passage is the passage of subjective existence from being to being while in-between it is non-existent.
    2) ...there is no limit in time of not being that would hinder the passage from occuring.
    3) is the same existence even though the state before and the state after can be very different (loss of memory, different personality, different identity).
    4) ...the same can be said about the passage from death to birth, that objectively they seem seperate but subjectively there is no seperation.
    5) ...that the passage from subjective being to subjective not-being back to subjective being in the same body is the same as two different bodies (so that Old Paul and New Paul is directly comparable to Nicos and Thanos).

    However, the article leaves some blanks (if I have understood it correctly, which I will assume for the sake of reasoning); for example, the article says that Nicos passes to Thanos, that Nicos time-gap has now ended with Thanos birth, but assume that there were twins involved, that Thanos had a twin brother that was born the same moment. Which of these would Nicos subjectivity become? That the time-gap closes passively gives no further understanding into which one Nicos would become and hence require some kind of explanation. If there was only one line of life and death and new life, then the argument holds water, but we are many that exists parallel to eachother and therefor we need some selection process (which one of all the people that are born more or less simultaniously should Nicos pass on to? If it really was Thanos amongst all of them then what is special about Thanos so that Nicos subjectivity should pass on to him instead of all the other newborns?).
  12. wstewart Registered Member

    Thank you for trying a summary of your understanding there. Maybe your example will encourage others to post summaries of their own current understandings of this hard-to-express concept.

    One of the hard things to express is the relation of subjectivity to the concept of existential passage, as in:

    Readers might gloss (1.) as poetry, or perhaps just lacking meaning. This is a common problem of summaries of the concept.

    To get past the problem in essay I used James' unfelt time-gap for framework and terminology, to ground the reader in something familiar and acceptable. I think that helped, but to increase familiarity with subjectivity, and to show subjectivity as natural and common, I presented something of its neuroanatomy and neurocomputation, chasing subjectivity down toward its recursive root. If the reader followed all that, the idea of existential passage might then come forward not as a gratuitous addition to the natural order, but, correctly, as only a consequence of subjectivity's common, natural process. And I think you see that, but you can say.

    Are you looking for an enforcer here? Something to force a choice between the two simultaneous events?

    We have no evidence that such a choice is made, and no obvious reason to expect it.

    Here as in the previous post, I'll be consistent in rebuffing the incorporeal barcode taggers, time-traveling sameness auditors, and the other chaos of enforcement, which would only grow worse if enforcement were to grow its remit to simultaneous choice. How after all could a correct choice be made, and by what would it be made and enforced?


    To answer your question: if we posit no such enforcer, the result is split passage, the least common of the essay's inferred passage types.

    Passage types are given in Ch. 11.

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  13. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    But you also have a enforcer, which is time. There is no reason to assume that time goes on after you die (unless a non-existent subject can be bound by objective time). Subjectively there is no time, subjectively there isn't even a world to have time. Nothing is nothing, for time to transcend nothing would require that nothing isn't actually nothing (but actually has time or is a entity that follows time).

    If nothing is a entity that follows time then it leads to the notion that every subject has their own nothing, this leads to nothing being diversified which also leads to redefinition of nothing (as nothing cannot hold any properties that diversifies it).

    Though, I have to note that if the universe isn't of infinite extent (timewise or spacewise) then time or space already transcends what we call 'nothing'. This redefinition should be stated though if that is what holds the arguments true.

    If we posit no such enforcer (but rely only on time as a enforcer - assuming that my argument that time doesn't go on is false) then indeed the one person would split into two, I don't see how this is not a paradox. One person can't become subjective as two persons at the same time. Merging is fine though, also the passage to the already living is ok (there could potentially be many subjectivities in one person). BUT two persons cannot be one subject, subjectivity has to be unique for each person, I can't imagine living two lives at the same time - which is what this suggests. In the chapter you said that you wouldn't stay on that subject as it was a very rare condition (which is true), but it really needs more explanation as it does seem impossible (for many reasons) but even though the fine granularity of time the conditions isn't impossible.

    Also, I'd like to add that there is a possibility that subjectivity may not be formed on an instant so the granularity of time may not be that important, after all why must existence be either on or off, couldn't it be half-way in-between at the moments it is "building up"?

    Even though I may oppose some of the things the article states, I still think that it is a step forward (it is towards truth in my opinion), but I don't think that it is the final solution. My opinion on the idea is that it is a good framework to consider the subjective implications of subjective nothing. I'm also grateful that the article explains nothing as it should be explained (not a gap of emptiness, or darkness), indeed when I was very young I looked up to the ceiling pondering my existence and thought that if I don't exist when I die then I couldn't exist now (as when I die, not only do I seize to exist, but also my entire life seizes to exist - and with it also the universe and the rest of existence).
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  14. wstewart Registered Member

    That view elevates the subjective experience of time above the objective fact of time. It's solipsism. The existence of 13.7 billion years of pre-human objective time speaks against that solipsistic view with sufficient authority. If you feel a need to argue for the solipsistic view, please try the literature before innovating.

    Your conception of enforcement is a decision which compels unfelt time-gaps to occur only in a same-structure body. It requires some active, if incomprehensible, enforcer, who (or what) does something. There's no good argument for such an enforcer.

    The flow of time isn't an active decision-maker, like your enforcer. It is just an ordering which happens to contain James' unfelt time-gaps, passively.

    You misread the essay there in Ch. 11. Subjectivity is unified throughout the essay, with no deviation from standard clinical descriptions.

    The inferred passages are not alterations to subjectivity. Subjectivity itself is not being split or merged. The splits and mergers are only temporal conditions on the non-subjective interval of the time-gap.

    As I put it in essay, when introducing merged passage:

    If you still feel that something is wrong here, you're free to try to isolate it. But note well that there's nothing one can point to in the subjective experience of any passage participant that leads to a paradox. Putting it another way, there is nothing the participants could report that would constitute a paradox.

    Thanks. I'm glad others also find it a good framework for addressing the issues.

    btw, what did you make of the old Druze precedent (Ch. 2, Ch. 10)?
  15. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    My view, which I haven't yet found any reason to doubt, is that my subjective is just as real as anything else in the world. There are differences though, the subjective is (as it seems at least) temporal, as it relies on a process. However, that doesn't make it less real, it exists just as much as a stone exists, or anything else in the objective world. The subjective is also (as far as we know) a delicate process which seizes to exist when that process is severely altered, or stopped (though the remains of the process goes on into other forms).

    Do you disagree on the above view of what subjectivity is?

    Now, if we break a rock then that rock is still a part of the world but in smaller pieces, but if we break the process of subjectivity then the subjectivity that the process offered is no more a part of this world though the pieces of the process is (in other forms).

    The consequence is that subjectivity can no longer be bound by time, as it doesn't exist. Something that doesn't exist is not a part of the world anymore, and therefor the world is not a part of the subject either (therefor the world ends, for the subject, but we can equally well say that the subjectivity is before the world begins as before and after have no existence for the subject).

    I've never said that it had to be a active enforcer, it can be a natural process but my argument is that it can't be physical, as all physical things can be duplicated (even if the odds are slim).

    That ordering requires that objective time still exists for the subject. There is no reason to distinguish physical nothing from subjective nothing, nothing can't be diversified so objective nothing (after the end of existence or before the beginning) is the same nothing as subjective nothing is. Could you provide any argument why this isn't so? How is one nothing different from another?

    I understand that subjectivity itself isn't being split or merged, a subject is a whole and can't be split. I already said that I agree that mergers could be possible, they don't lead to a paradox, I can myself have many existences within me that does exactly what I do and perceive exactly what I perceive without my knowledge of it. However, there is a huge difference between that and me existing as two persons, perceiving two lives, doing things through two bodies. That is what I am having a difficulty accepting and is also the argument that the idea isn't complete (although, as I said before, it is a good approach and is also a good framework, and has a potential of becoming complete with some modifications, mainly about the nature of 'nothing' which must then be 'something' or existence must be unique in a way that every existence is their own "mini-universe" and that they are...well...their own 'nothing', but I'm having trouble grasping that concept right now, it seems to rely on a underlying structure if that was the case).

    If I was subjective as two persons then I would report it, not as a paradox (as obviously then I couldn't say that it couldn't happen) but as a severe oddity.

    Indeed, perhaps it doesn't seem like a paradox, we have two hands after all and can control them independently, two eyes and can see through both at the same time, etc., but while it may not seem like a paradox if we judge through experience, I still believe that we will find that it is still a paradox, I mean there are no obvious connection between those two persons besides being born at the same time, and our timelines diverge (time goes slower when we move, so we all live in slightly different times), but subjectivity has to be consistent so even though our timelines diverge, were you a subject of a body then you will always be the subject of that body, otherwise we would be slipping in and out of other peoples lives as we happen to cross their timelines and that just doesn't happen.

    You're welcome. It appealed to me on a very deep level and I've thought about these things for a long time (as I said before I knew about the unfelt time-gap even as a child and was terrified of it, but at the same time awed, many things have happened since that got me thinking about it and I've taken small steps to reach an idea that I believe can't be argued against, even though I let it be put through arguments all the time - I could be wrong, but I doubt it).

    I have read about solipsism earlier but it doesn't encompass my idea fully, I do believe that others exists alongside me, but for that to be the case there are two mutually exclusive options; 1) we have a soul (which in this case is defined simply as a objective subjectivity and might or might not be the same as the religious soul and is almost certainly not physical) 2) we all live the life of all else (when I die I become someone else, that doesn't need to come after me but can be before me or at the same time as me), this means that all the objective persons that I encounter do have a subjectivity but it is my own self in different settings. This idea needs a unphysical "queue" to determine which I'm going to be next.

    I'm in favor of the soul, because I dislike the idea of talking to myself all the time lol (j/k), I guess that Occam's razor would favor the queue though as it doesn't need a soul for each individual, it just needs a unphysical process of determining the next object to be the subject (so to speak), I have no clue as to what that process would be like (or if it is active or passive).

    Well, the ideas are sound, but it does make assumptions which needs to be sorted out, for example; does it really need to be a "fall from grace"? Do we really need to come down from the heavens? What if we started on earth as we had neither sin nor any good? Needless to say we all sin, but if the good can outweigh the sins or if we are somehow cleansed by the death of our body (which could be where the sins originate after all) then couldn't there be grace again? So there are flaws in the ideas but still a good read.

    As I closing word I'd like to say that I do believe that there can be many existences, but that there can only be one nothing, the same nothing that was before existence and the same nothing that comes after existence. With existence in regard to nothing I mean existence itself as the container of all other existences (subjective or objective). To say otherwise is also to say that each existence has their own nothing, which means that the world is far different from what we thought (or at least from what we are taught).
  16. wstewart Registered Member

    re: subjectivity

    In that much I expect my cited authorities would agree. Some of your other statements on subjectivity are muddled.

    re: the incorporeal

    Unfortunately, neither you nor I have the foggiest notion of what a non-physical thing would be. The incorporeal and its equivalents are formally meaningless.

    When you invoke the incorporeal you invoke a magical spell. I wouldn't expect that spell to work on this crowd. And of course existential passage reasoning has no need of it. To the contrary.

    re: the enforcer

    Speaking of magic:

    Any "enforcer" -- even your minimal "queue" enforcer -- must make a decision, which entails work and increase of entropy, per the Second Law of thermodynamics. For an enforcer to operate without violating the Second Law -- without invoking magic -- it would have to be a true-life Maxwell Demon.

    But those demons do not exist.

    re: split passage

    No inferred passage type has any effect upon an individual participant, regardless of passage outcome. A participant in a split passage would not "perceive two lives", as perception -- awareness, subjectivity -- is not present during the timeframe of the split unfelt time-gap. Likewise, no participant would perceive merged, unitary or ex nihilo time-gap conditions. To assert otherwise is only to introduce a verbal confusion.

    re: Druze precedent for existential passage reasoning

    Other thread participants might wonder what you're referencing there. It's a Druze quotation introduced in Ch. 2, then extended in Ch. 10. The Druze author tries to look at our situation from two perspectives, either of which, to his mind, argues for some form of reincarnation back into the world:

    So he's not really arguing for the fall from grace, but is instead contrasting it with "what Reason spells out": i.e., man's advancement within this world, and his reincarnation return to this world wherein advancement is possible. The Hellenistic genesis of Druze transmigration thought is evident in the quotation. (Ref. Plato's Myth of Er, right?)

    The Hellenism is more explicit in other Druze quotations of Ch. 10. There Druze transmigration reasoning takes on some exceptional and perhaps unexpected Hellenistic thoughts, especially in the 16th-century transmigration synthesis of Abdul Ghaffar.

    Multiple parallels with existential passage reasoning are present in the quotation, which is a unique historical synthesis. Do you see the the parallels?

  17. wstewart Registered Member


    There's another way of reading that formulation, you know.

    If curious, see the link at the end of the essay dedication.

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  18. wstewart Registered Member

    "We welcome your feedback."

  19. wstewart Registered Member

    Enforcement and freedom

    The enforcement of sameness across unfelt time-gaps may seem a curious notion, and as far as I can tell it really is an unworkable one. Each proposed implementation has at least one crippling flaw. Yet it is this unworkable "enforcer" that backstops common objections to existential passage.

    If one says, for example, "Nicos cannot encounter existential passage to Thanos because the bodies differ," that is an application of the enforcer. Here the enforcer is performing a time-traveling audit: comparing Thanos' present body to that of Nicos' past body, and rendering a negative judgment on their sameness. And of course such a time-traveling audit does not make sense. It doesn't even work for Old/New Paul, where readers seem always to grant a positive judgment in the face of the enforcer's negative judgment; flaunting their own enforcer's judgment as a dead letter, unworkable or otherwise irrelevant.

    Yet many essay readers, and possibly many readers of this thread, are still submitting to some mad enforcer's negative judgment of Nicos and Thanos.

    Why do you suppose that is?

  20. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    It's only some of the characteristics which I thought was relevant.

    The non-physical process would be a queue, and the non-physical "thing" would be a soul. Metaphysics By Default seem to rely on a queue with time as a passive enforcer, however, in my view time is a bad enforcer as no moment is unique. Not only is that something to consider but also that time just doesn't exist subjectively when the subject doesn't exist, it has no relevance what comes next or what was before.

    If it would come down to pure logic without anything unphysical then we would end up living our own life again and again, because our life is what happened the last time we were nothing, if we become nothing then why would that fact change? It is the same nothing after all. Our own life is the only thing of which we can be certain.

    A process of subjectivity would not need to change in any way in regard to the subject, there would be no difference physically if you exist as my body or if I exist as my body, no physical change means no increase in entropy. If there is unphysical work done then that obviously wouldn't increase physical entropy.

    Where did I assert that the time-gap was in question? Obviously I mean the result. So how could one subject that lives the life of two persons not perceive two lives? Do you mean that after the time-gap they are individualised? But then what is it that selects which one should be the original nicos subjective? Which one does Nicos existence pass on to?

    That was the original question, I haven't got a clue where you got it from that I would have questioned the unfelt time-gap.

    Yes I do see the parallels, but it doesn't surprise me, existential passage (in other words, reincarnation) is a old thought after all and as in any religion many possible branches stem from the general idea, perhaps all branches that can be considered has been considered at some point. Spiritual advancement seem consistent with thoughts of reincarnation as well.


    Do you mean anything special with posting a link to the trailer of 300 or was it just for fun?

    That's simply because we identify ourselves with our bodies of course. It isn't a bad thought, take Old Paul and New Paul for example; what would happen if a newborn baby was born in the middle of the existential passage? Then Old Paul would become the newborn baby instead, and New Paul would have a completely different existence (perhaps completely new). It doesn't seem obvious to me that the timing should be all there is to it. Also we still have the problem of every moment not being unique so that one person could exist as two if they were born at the same moment, or even three or four, there is no limit to the possibility of people being born at the same moment. It is also not obvious what it is with time that should differ between one subjective existence and another, especially while they don't exist, there still seem to be a selecting action going on "this subjective goes here because this body came first, oh no two bodies came at the same time, which one to pick??", and so on. No matter how we construct any theory there is always some selection process and if it isn't unique by guarantee then there will always be the possibility of a active process instead of a passive. Time is not unique.

    Also, we need to consider what is keeping us in this body if time is the only ruler and sameness has no relevance.
  21. wstewart Registered Member

    I'm afraid you've made a hash of it there.

    This "non-physical" talk is meaningless, formally. Repetition of your bare assertions adds no meaning.

    Moreover your proposed non-physical entities are redundant. There's no need for a non-physical queue to order things when the objective flow of time does itself order everything, including the events of subjective/objective transition that constitute unfelt time-gaps. There's no need to posit that a non-physical soul identify the individual, when self-identifying processes are already seen within the physical body. So, again, these proposed entities are not only meaningless but redundant, and of course no substitute for direct apprehension of the relevant sciences.
  22. wstewart Registered Member

    So much for all that. All that... "metaphysics"...

    In the previous post I said that Cyperium's "non-physical" talk was meaningless. I should add that I don't think this is really Cyperium's fault. Any incorporeal entity, when described in functional detail, shows itself to be meaningless. This is because the only examples of function known to us are corporeal. Functional description of an incorporeal thing must therefore mimic the description of a corporeal thing. The result is an incorporeal duplicate of the corporeal thing. This duplicate can simply be renamed as its corporeal original and returned to the corporeal world with no net gain or loss of meaning.

    It can take a while to demonstrate the truth of this proposition. Consider Proclus' "reversion" (epistrophe) from essay Ch. 3 - Ch. 7:

    For Proclus, reversion just had to be an incorporeal thing. But when we look at his attempts at functional description, we see that his incorporeal reversion is actually describing a known function (recursion) of corporeal bodies, human and other. It took about 1500 years to assemble the necessary scientific knowledge, but today it is known.

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    (Fig. 6.9. An autoassociator of the type theorized for the hippocampal CA3 region. An example of reversion as corporeal recursion.)

    And so the incorporeal Neoplatonic reversion shows itself to be a poor duplicate of corporeal recursion, hence meaningless.


    So much for all that. All that... "metaphysics".

    And metaphysics generally?

    What mustn't be forgotten is the fact that not every metaphysics is a meaningless incorporeal construct. Metaphysics can be a set of mere inferences on -- interpretations of -- the corporeal functions known to us. If we discipline metaphysics by this rule, we find that our metaphysical inferences need not collapse into meaningless duplicates of corporeal things, need not break any natural laws, need not... well, flee our knowledge of the natural world.

    No. Instead, we find that our knowledge of the natural world can now inform our metaphysical thoughts. These thoughts integrate understandings that would otherwise remain needlessly isolated.

    This is the milieu of Metaphysics by Default.


    Is everyone clear on this?

    Any doubts?

    Any problems with the choice of masthead?

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    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  23. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    The questions raised are relevant though and does not depend on unphysical things. If the only possible answer to those relevant questions are unphysical then that's where we end up, we can't change that.

    My questions are important but you have avoided answering most of them, you haven't given a clear answer to what would happen if two people were born at the same moment, you have simply stated that both become the subject of the person that died previously. It is impossible for a subject to be two persons! This is a flaw in your theory, avoiding the flaws are not a good idea!

    Answer this one at least!
    Is there a limit to the distance between the person that dies and the person that is born? If a person dies and the next person is born a year after in a galaxy a billion lightyears away then the timegap should be closed instantly between them. Now, how can something physical travel that distance in such a short time? It goes against physics, so if it were to be true then it must be unphysical.

    So that's the fact of it, if Metaphysics By Default were to be true then it needs to deal with something unphysical (as any other theory of existence after death). Ignoring the points I make won't make the theory true, cause they are valid points.

    To say that there can't be anything unphysical is to say that we have knowledge about how the unphysical would operate (in order to rule it out), but we have no such knowledge. Therefor any objections that the unphysical can't exist is inherently flawed. That we can't examine it objectively doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

    All things physical can be duplicated. The subject of a person cannot, need I say more?

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