Scientific conjecture about an atheistic conception of the afterlife

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

  1. wstewart Registered Member

    You answer the question of subjective order with an incorporeal "queue," but the question was answered previously by the fact of objective temporal order. You're denying that fact, but without reason. There is no reason to think that subjective events occur outside objective temporal order.

    Distance is irrelevant, in existential passage as in any supposed unfelt time-gap. In essay the unfelt time-gaps are understood not to be closed by some "physical transfer", but by the nature of subjective/objective transitions. Obviously this doesn't "go against physics".

    In contrast, the operation of "enforcers" would violate physics at any number of points. (Magic <> physics.) This would be true of your queue enforcer. It would also be true of the enforcer I noted in previous post, that would deny passage of Nicos to Thanos by performing a (magical) time-traveling audit of structural sameness.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
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  3. wstewart Registered Member

    Limits of personal identity

    We have some scientists in this forum, and possibly in this thread, so I'd like to put up a scientific question for discussion.

    I attempted a taxonomy in '99, classifying entity types by personal identity criteria. The taxonomy sketches tentative limits of personal identity criteria, in other species and in some non-species entities. In the years since publication some new scientific knowledge may have rendered my references outdated. Conceivably new knowledge could have rendered the taxonomy itself outdated.

    Here is the taxonomy, from essay Ch. 17. Judging only from essay references, all central nervous system (CNS) creatures appear to satisfy all criteria of personal identity. Other creatures and entities appear not to.

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    But that was back in '99. So I ask: Do any references come to mind, to improve or challenge the taxonomy?
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  5. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    But there are no subjective events when the subjective doesn't exist. Why should it matter then who is born next? It is true that there is a order of objective events, but in physics the only direction of time is the increase of chaos (of entropy), it is unclear how this fits with connecting the subjective existence between two bodies (the newly diseased and the newborn).

    We don't yet know how one moment passes to the next (in the most fundamental level), if time is in discrete units then there should be a gap of nothing between them and as such your idea may fit with that. But we don't know exactly how that works yet so we can't derive anything with full confidence. In my own thinking I suspect that the gap of nothing between moments are filled with uncertainty, so that there really isn't a gap of nothing but only a uncertainty if something exists there (in accordance with the heisenberg uncertainty principle).

    If there is no passage then what's the point? Either there is a passage (which is the same as transfer) or there isn't. If it isn't a physical transfer then the transfer is unphysical.

    It would not violate physics at all, if the sameness argument is false then there would be no physical difference and therefor no need for physical violation of cause and effect or increasing entropy or anything like that.

    I say again; all things physical can be duplicated but the subjective cannot. So if the sameness argument is false then the unphysical argument is true (considering that the argument is true that all things physical can be duplicated). I have yet to see anything that shows that something physical cannot be duplicated, therefor the statement as it is today is worthy as a argument and not something to ignore.

    There is no axiom that all things must be detectable or that all things must be able to be duplicated, in other words, reality could hold any number of unphysical things without it contradicting anything. If the sameness argument is false then there *must* be something unphysical, at least as we understand what is physical today.

    I hope you know that I'm not opposing your essay for the fun of it, but because I truly believe that there are gaps that needs to be filled in (no pun intended), it is a very interesting subject for me so I can't just let things go if I see them, it is of course a possibility of me misunderstanding something fundamental in your theory but I have tried to cover as many possibilities that I could find.

    Maybe our differences is because of the concept of the nature of the subjective/objective transitions. What is the nature of that?

    BTW; interesting chart, I'm not qualified to answer your question about it though.
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  7. wstewart Registered Member

    re: a needless multiplication of entities

    That's not the case; not in any formulation of existential passage reasoning.

    Consider Old and New Paul. Everyone seems to agree that Old Paul passes to New. From Old Paul's perspective, this passage occurs.

    When we ask why this is, spurious criteria may appear:

    • The same-structure criterion has appeared in this thread, and we've seen that it cannot be a true criterion because New Paul's structure must differ from Old Paul's.
    • A memory criterion sometimes appears, but it cannot be a true criterion because New Paul lacks Old Paul's memory.
    • A continuity criterion sometimes appears, but it cannot be a true criterion because the very thing one would need to continue - recursive subjective process - is discontinuous in the unfelt time-gap, as by definition.
    When we inventory the necessities of Old Paul's passage to New, we're left with no criteria other than the subjective/objective transitions themselves, and their relative order in time.

    Likewise with Nicos and Thanos, and the inferred unfelt time-gap of existential passage.

    Now, were one to posit some incorporeal entity in the passage of Nicos to Thanos, for consistency one would need to apply that same entity to the passage of Old to New Paul, as the critical events are the same in both cases. And then one would have to examine less extreme cases, in which New Paul's injury is less severe, and try to determine which cases require incorporeal "help", and which do not. And of course these determinations would be decisions, requiring information and energy, extracted and used by countless incorporeal enforcers of whatever type. The result is an unavoidable multiplication of metaphysical entities, none of which are obviously needed, all of which can go under Occam's Razor.


    re: the problem of incorporeal function

    Try to describe the function of your incorporeal queue enforcer -- its actual interaction with the physical world -- and you'll quickly find yourself contradicting more authorities than you know. And like it or not, no enforcer can enforce without physical interaction.

    Proclus was a talented philosopher, and his incorporeal reasoning was imaginative, perhaps inspired. Even so, when he tried to describe the function of his incorporeal "reversions", he opened himself to direct refutation. (And you saw how that worked, right?)

    Similar problems will afflict your reasoning for incorporeal enforcers, if you dare to describe them in functional terms. And lest anyone think this is just a difficulty of transmigration arguments, know that the same problems afflict enforcer-arguments designed to prevent Nicos' existential passage to Thanos.


    re: subjective/objective transitions

    As argued in Ch. 8 and Ch. 9, at some length. If something catches your eye there, you might make note of it. Please see also endnote [29] for alternate formulations by other writers.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  8. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    Yes, but the order in time is deceiving, even if you are passed out for any number of hours or in a deep coma you would still feel that existence was continuous, people have waken up from a coma several years after and thought it was the next day. So the criteria of their relative order in time does not hold either. Any number of people have been born or have had timegaps during that time, why didn't he wake up as them instead?

    So to your list you should add that the order of time has no relevance.

    I am pretty confident that you will end up defeating all the physical criteria if you just look hard enough, and it is the responsibility of the one making a theory to consider all options, not just the ones that suits the theory.

    As I said before; Occam's Razor is only applicible if it reduces to a simpler theory that can explain as much or more. The "enforcer" whether it be a unphysical system or as a soul would be there all of the time and not just when specific conditions are needed.

    Why not? If the soul is described as simply identifying itself with a system then no physical interaction is needed because it is simply being the system. No change in the system itself is needed for this to occur. If the sameness argument is false (as your essay suggests) then any subjective existence could exist as a specific system without any change in the system (cause a change in the system based on which subjective existence possesses it would imply that the system was suited for that subjective existence which would make the sameness argument true).

    I haven't seen any such problems with my reasoning. Whatever happens in the unphysical reality of the soul is of no consequence to the physical world, so whatever is the basis for the picking of system it doesn't matter physically. As I said before, no physical change is needed if the sameness argument is false. Any problems with the reasoning with a incorporeal entity would make the sameness argument true (as it would imply a physical change which could only occur because the system fits the subjective).

    I'm going to show you where my understanding of it fails (I already read those chapters and I get most of it but I don't see the connection between some of the statements).

    1) Objectively there is a gap of time (and possibly space) between Old Paul and New Paul.
    2) Subjectively there is no gap of time nor space, obviously since the subject doesn't exist.

    So far so good...

    If we assume that it is proven that Old Paul always passes to New Paul then what can we make of that? That it is the order of events seem to be the conclusion of the essay, it doesn't depend on structure or even that it is the same body. What fails me is that any number of people can be born during that time which Old Paul would become, and any number of people could die that New Paul could become. So then we can't assume that Old Paul always passes to New Paul. It is as such inconsistent.
  9. wstewart Registered Member


    I could be misreading you, but it seems you posit an incorporeal soul to "improve upon" the corporeal self-identification of subjectivity.

    You posit an incorporeal queue to improve on the natural ordering of the objective flow of time.

    And you posit incorporeal enforcers to improve on nature's indifferent arrangement of subjective/objective transitions, and the associated passage types which you dislike.

    Moreover you posit that all these incorporeal entities operate without physical interaction, so that no magic is required, supposedly. Yet you propose existence of the incorporeal entities as complement to the corporeal entities, so some physical interaction is assumed; else the incorporeal entities wouldn't know whether or not to exist, now would they?

    It seems your system constitutes an entire shadow universe of incorporeal entities, each an imagined improvement over the imperfect or imperfectly-understood corporeal equivalent. Should you try to specify some function for an incorporeal entity, I expect the imitation of corporeal function will become overt, ending the charm of the incorporeal entity. I'd suggest you try to detail the enforcement of your proposed incorporeal queue, to illustrate.


    And for comparison, consider Neoplatonic hypostases: they've been tried and found wanting, yes?

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

    There is no improvement to the physical system, being a system doesn't need to change it in any way. I won't dwelve into theories of incorporeal entities because I don't think it is necessary and you should see that if you faced the arguments that points to a unphysical entity instead of trying to refute the unphysical entity itself that the arguments does lead to a unphysical entity. How else could the sameness argument be false? Even time have moments that are the same.
  11. wstewart Registered Member

    I don't think that statement will be viewed very charitably in forum. It's better to say you don't know how to proceed, if that's the case.

    A better approach is to demonstrate understanding of an argument, and then demonstrate the impossibility of some argument assertion. "This one thing is impossible, and for the following reason..."

    If you see some logical or nomological impossibility in existential passage reasoning, you might argue against it. At present I think you're trying to argue from a number of self-styled laws, some of which might not be clear, some of which might not be true. So if you're going to make your case -- one specific case -- you'll need to spell everything out; using unambiguous terms and citing laws that are widely accepted as true. That will help the discussion.
  12. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I have given examples of what the unphysical entity could be - which are based on logical implications, but it is impossible to know exactly how such a entity would operate, at least at the time being. The first step is to find out if it is true, the next step is to examine it in any way possible (where parts of the answer to those questions will come by the arguments which shows it to be true).

    Ok, isn't it widely accepted as true that a subject can't exist as two persons at the same time? Isn't it widely accepted that no moment in time is unique? Yet your essay states that two persons would exist as the same subject if they were born at the same moment.

    Both the structures and the processes can potentially be reproduced, and we've agreed that the sameness argument is false. So, wouldn't it be widely accepted that if no physical change whatever is needed to account for which existence is present as the subjective, then the existence that is present as the subjective isn't at all physical (as it isn't at all physically represented).

    What is illogical in these questions? Can you answer any of them?
  13. wstewart Registered Member

    Split passage

    If two persons were born truly simultaneously, both would be temporally positioned to close an unfelt time-gap, and both should be expected to do so. The essay just acknowledges the possibility of this outcome. Ref. Dacia and Beatrice in Ch. 11.

    What can be said about the inference of split passage?

    • No participant would be aware of the split passage, as it is inferred between subjective events, when awareness is not possible.
    • No subjective function would be divided by the split passage; subjectivity remains unified where it exists.
    • No particular natural law forbids the split passage.
    • No paradox emerges from the reports of passage participants.
    • No novel metaphysical entities are posited by split passage.
    What else?

    I just don't see a problem requiring incorporeal solution. Does anyone?
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  14. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    So what is it that selects which one Thanos is going to exist as? He can't continue the existence as both. Don't you see any problem at all with this? I'm sure everyone does (though I don't like appealing to the crowd, it has no advantage and the crowd is often wrong and filled with myths of all kind).

    Also, you failed to answer this question:
    Both the structures and the processes can potentially be reproduced, and we've agreed that the sameness argument is false. So, wouldn't it be widely accepted that if no physical change whatever is needed to account for which existence is present as the subjective, then the existence that is present as the subjective isn't at all physical (as it isn't at all physically represented).
  15. wstewart Registered Member

    reductio ad absurdum

    Thanos? You meant Magnus?

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    Magnus encounters the split passage in essay, but by essay reasoning his individuation is lost with subjectivity and personal identity at the start of an unfelt time-gap. We can't speak literally of Magnus as having or being any of these things after the start of the unfelt time-gap. And that's not an issue because subjective continuity across the unfelt time-gap does not require persistence of any individuated properties.

    It seems you're trying to persist something across the time-gap, and base an objection on that persistence.

    Temporal order is given to us, gratis. That's why no "physical change" is required for the ordering of existence, including the ordering of subjective/objective transitions that appear to constitute unfelt time-gaps.

    But to say, "the existence that is present as the subjective isn't at all physical," is to make a very obscure and likely meaningless statement, irrespective of whatever criticism you're trying to level against my own thoughts. I'm reminded of Proclus' incorporeal elaborations, which went further than he acknowledged. Premising his propositions 15 and 17, Proclus could have concluded that all self-moving bodies are incorporeal.

    The conclusion follows, yes?

    But Proclus did not compose that syllogism. Why not? I don't know his reason, but I can see that self-motion is a principle with broad application. Conceivably, at some level Proclus may have sensed that this syllogism would also have had broad application, unavoidably. It would have forced him to pronounce much of existence (even all?) incorporeal.

    It's a reductio ad absurdum, which is where your own incorporeal pronouncements are heading.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  16. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    So there are no continuity of subjective existence for Magnus? Then what is your essay all about anyway? You mean that you want to sacrifice the point of the essay (which is subjective continuity across timegaps) just so that you can be right on this argument?

    So in your reasoning the subjective existence that Thanos had didn't continue with Nicos either?

    This is not about the ordering or the timegap at all, this is about the subjective existence of a particular person. You say that it wouldn't be any change if I was that person or if you were that person. If there is no physical change then the subjective existence must be unphysical.

    Which is irrelevant as an argument to the particular question I have, if anything unphysical is impossible then your essay is wrong as it depend on unphysical entities (or entity).
  17. wstewart Registered Member

    from confusion to incorporeality

    There is. It's reasoned as subjective continuity without the persistence of individuation, which subjective continuity does not require. We've seen already that no particular persistent thing is a necessity, or criterion, of the unfelt time-gap.

    I say those words? No. If you want to point out some problem in the essay, you should quote the essay text, and fairly. Otherwise you're fabricating straw-man arguments, which are fallacious.

    You're not the first man to reason from confusion to incorporeality. Proclus serves as a warning from the distant past, viz:

    "It ends badly."
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  18. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    So if there is continuation of the subjective existence of Magnus, then which one of the twins would it continue as?

    If individuation is not persisting then why should it be with Nicos and Thanos?

    You said that it doesn't matter structurally which subjective existence is in a body. We've called this that the sameness argument is false.

    In other words, the same structure could hold any subjective existence. It is independent from structure.

    That means that there would be no structural differences if I existed as a person or if you did. So where is the difference?

    If the difference is in the process of subjectivity then we are back to the structural problems because a process can likewise be duplicated.

    There is no confusion, I don't necessarily mean the same thing Proclus meant. If you want to point out anything specific that goes against my arguments then do so. I don't necessarily agree with Proclus arguments, so if they were proven to be invalid then that doesn't necessarily mean anything to my own. Instead you should find the arguments that make mine invalid instead of pointing me to some ancient discussion.

    One question that you never answered me, was if you think that there is anything physical that can't be duplicated. Possibility of duplication is a clear argument against subjectivity as the subject can't be duplicated.
  19. wstewart Registered Member

    As both. True simultaneity would set up the conditions for subjective continuity in both, and we've no reason to demand that an indifferent nature cease being indifferent in this one, uncommon case. Where conditions for both outcomes emerge, both outcomes can be expected, indifferently. No law forbids it.

    It's not. Nicos' individuation ends with the start of the unfelt time-gap. Subjective continuity does not require its persistence, as argued previously.

    The same-structure criterion demands that the bodily structure be the same at both ends of an unfelt time-gap. And we've seen that this demand cannot be met, not even with Old and New Paul, due to the incessant changes brought about by metabolism. And so the criterion falls.

    This is by no means to say that "subjective existence... is independent from structure". To the contrary, each subjective process is uniquely positioned in a thalamocortical structure and contains unique mental content, resulting in unambiguous self-identification. Only, this self-identification is contingent on the subjective process, and cannot persist apart from it. The subjective/objective transition must therefore be a limit for self-identification.

    I didn't answer because the objection seems a muddy non sequitur. I will say that existential passage reasoning does not argue for "duplication" of any particular mental content. Instead, the recursive assembly of subjectivity is seen to be the same wherever it occurs: i.e., a universal in the sense of common process, indifferently granted in nature. One searches in vain for any criterion whereby nature would prefer one recursive start over another, to preferentially end unfelt time-gaps. Time provides order, only.

    You'll notice that your incorporeal arguments are no clearer than his. Proclus' thought is ancient, but his example is perfectly relevant. There's a reason why you can't advance beyond mere incorporeal assertion into functional argument, and I've talked a bit about that, citing Proclus as illustrative example. Try as you might, in your arguments you won't be able to do more than point out some imperfect understanding of corporeal things. None of these imperfections will lead to any particular incorporeal conclusion.
  20. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    But Nicos subjective existence is now individualised as Thanos. Otherwise it would not be the same subjective existence. It is impossible for James subjective existence to be individualised as two persons as it is the same subjective existence.

    Let's see it from their perspective instead, I believe that it is said in the essay that in the perspective of Nicos he is not to expect 'nothing' but to expect no interruption in his existence, even though he has no memory of being Nicos, instead he is now Thanos, in Nicos perspective his existence has never ended.

    So if the same reasoning should apply to James and the twins, then he is expected to continue existing, but as which of the twins? Obviously in his perspective he can't continue to exist as both.

    The process of subjectivity itself is dependent on structure of course, but the existence that will perceive that subjectivity isn't. Otherwise it could be duplicated.

    It doesn't matter if we duplicate any structure, even if it can give rise to subjectivity generally. However, any specific subjectivity can't be copied (that is the continuation of a specific subjectivity, if it is in the same body or in a different body).

    It becomes confusing since we have used subjectivity as a term for both general subjectivity and specific subjectivity. In my notions of subjectivity I always mean a specific subjectivity and not a general one if not stated. A specific subjectivity (that which is in a specific person) cannot be duplicated, but the general subjectivity can (that which is the phenomena of subjectivity itself that isn't specific to any one person).

    However, it is unclear if there exists any general subjectivity, that would be the same as God really, omnipresent and all that.

    No mental content was implied. Only the specific subjective existence that is a person (not the identity or individuation of that person). That is what can't be copied, and that is a good reason to assume that it isn't physical at all (cause anything physical can be copied, at least potentially, and two moments in time can be the same, etc.).

    I really have no wish to argue about the non-physical entity itself. It is only clear that it must exist because of reasoning about the physical. If it must exist then we will find the arguments why. Let's first see why the arguments I have must be wrong in order to rule out anything unphysical from this.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  21. wstewart Registered Member


    Until you demonstrate the corporeal impossibility of some important function, you haven't really begun an argument for incorporeality.

    By my understanding of the history of philosophy, such argument cannot be made. But that's your business.

    Implicit in that statement of "sameness" is some persistent identification of Nicos across the unfelt time-gap. But by previous reasoning no such persistence is thought possible. Subjective continuity does not require it, so the unfelt time-gap need not adhere to it.

    "Perceive that subjectivity"? To be clear, subjectivity is concomitant with perception. It is not a perceived object.

    This concern with "copying" is unrelated to essay reasoning, and it corresponds with no counter-argument that I or my fellow writers have yet seen.

    You seem to think some corporeal impossibility is entangled within the assertions, but you haven't made a case. You haven't specified why things must or mustn't be copied, or how they should be copied, or what exactly can or can't be copied. You're only speaking in vaguest terms of the impossibility of copying "specific subjective existence", which you hold apart from "identity or individuation". Yet subjectivity is intimately associated with personal identity and individuation, for obvious reasons. It doesn't make sense to speak of copying one of these intimately related things, and not the others.

    I can only conclude that you're making a distinction without a difference, and without justification. Beyond that, the meaningful "how" and "why" of this copy-business are, again, unspecified.

    And I think I know why that is.
  22. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I have demonstrated it in many ways, but you haven't understood it yet.

    There is no identification with Nicos needed, Nicos is forgotten (just as the amnesiac had forgotten Old Paul) but in the perspective of Nicos his subjective existence continues with Thanos; as you said in the essay chapter 9 (part 2):

    ``Nicos' supposedly interminable time-gap has actually reached its end with Thanos' birth. Nicos has passed, imperceptibly, to Thanos; and the amnesiac new man who is Thanos lives unknowingly as a continuation of the life of his father Nicos.´´

    So who does unknowingly live as a continuation of James? Which of the twins? Both can't live unknowingly as a continuation of James as the singular subjective existence of James can't recover as two persons.

    Do you see that now?

    Sorry, I worded it clumpsy. What I mean is basically that if I copied my brain and my body then I won't exist as two seperate bodies, even if I copied all the information within that brain. I would still only be subjective as myself and the other person would perceive itself as I do, but he wouldn't be me.

    That's the issue with copying and what shows that subjectivity can't be physical, even though what gives rise to it can be physical.

    The concern of copying is related in that it shows that subjectivity can't be purely physical. The essay version of copying is that of two (or more) people being born the same moment, as the time of birth seem to be the only criteria of which subjective existence the newborn should be a continuation of.

    To understand why time can't be the only ruler, one has to understand that the concept of copying is a impossibility for subjectivity cause subjectivity can only ever be singular.

    You made the distinction between them when you said that Nicos subjective existence passes on to Thanos, but not his individuation. If subjective existence is something physical then it can be copied. However it is obvious that I can't be two persons at the same time, and hence I can't be copied. The subjective can't be objective.
  23. wstewart Registered Member

    Duplicators and other magic

    And if he said that you were the copy, how would you prove otherwise, even to yourself?

    It's an unoriginal comment, of course. "Google: duplicator philosophy: About 2,410,000 results (0.16 seconds)." Fwiw.

    But this is sci-fi, requiring the perfect and magical duplication of the body. Like all other magical philosophy scenarios, it proves nothing. Time is better spent in the study of relevant factual subjects (e.g., subjectivity in homo sapiens and other species).
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013

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