• Banno
    12k
    Cheers, Sam.

    Granted, not understanding the physics - if there is any - of the process does not rule it out. I agree. Note however that it's not just the absence of a process that is at hand, but that any process must apparently involve something quite new to physics. It's not like the water tank is leaking and we can't find the leak. It's like the water in the tank is turning into wine. It is an extraordinary claim, and hence requires very, very good evidence.

    You say that what gets reincarnated is "your consciousness, viz., whatever it is that makes you, you, for example, your memories and your experiences."

    It is apparent that only a very few people claim to have memories of previous lives. So if we take them at their word, reincarnation is a very rare thing indeed. Further, it follows that one cannot claim that one is the reincarnation of Napoleon, for example, and yet that one has no recollections of being Napoleon. I certainly have no memories of a previous life, and hence, if what is reincarnated is one's memories, I have not been here before.

    There's also the issue of the distinction between self and memory. Suppose that on his death, Napoleon's memories become disembodied, drift around the cosmos and enter the body of a child named Fred. Will we choose to say that Fred has Napoleon's memories, or will we choose to say that the child is Napoleon? This to draw attention to the fact that one's self is not equivalent to one's memories.

    I am aware of your strong interest in NDE's. I've read a bit about them, bit I remain unconvinced. While it is a topic that I keep one eye on, the absence of an explanation of the way in which a mind might be disembodied is a huge problem. All we have had so far is hand-waving talk of energy, fields and quanta.

    Doubtless I will be accused again of scientism; better that than credulity. These are physical phenomena that are being described. A physical explanation is called for. In its absence, I remain unconvinced.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Here's the question again: what is it that is reincarnated?Banno

    This is the question, and it has no philosophically satisfactory answer.

    Nothing has changed since Socrates addressed this in the Phaedo. He gives two answers. The first is the one that will quiet the "childish fears" of his friends by presenting myths, metaphors, and arguments that appear to prove the continued existence of the soul after death. Only to those who can follow the arguments carefully enough he also points out how all the arguments fail. This leads to his second answer, which has two parts: a) we do not know what will happen, and more troubling to those who wish to preserve hope, b) there is no coherent idea or concept of the individual soul that is not tied to an actual individual. The question itself then is incoherent.

    The same problem arises with those who replace soul with energy or consciousness.
  • Wayfarer
    12.1k
    And they claim (at the link) that they can prove all of this with the scientific method.baker

    The fact that 'they say it' doesn't provide any reason to believe it. The only science they mention is NDE, but they don't cite any actual science. It was just this kind of Hindu 'eternalism' that the Buddha rejected.
  • Wayfarer
    12.1k
    Nothing has changed since Socrates addressed this in the Phaedo.Fooloso4

    Nevertheless, the prevailing view of the Phaedo is that Socrates accepts, and argues in favour of, the immortality of the soul, even if he admits he doesn't necessarily understand the soul's destiny.
  • Banno
    12k
    Interesting, isn't it, that folk suppose that because "I am convinced", it follows that "Hence, you ought be convinced". Going both ways. "I am not convinced, hence, you ought not be convinced".
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Nevertheless, the prevailing view of the Phaedo is that Socrates accepts, and argues in favour of, the immortality of the soul, even if he admits he doesn't necessarily understand the soul's destiny.Wayfarer

    Yes, this is the prevailing view and it had a strong influence on Christianity, but follow the arguments rather than prevailing opinion if you want to see what is really going on. But if you are going to do so I suggest you use a good translation such as West's Four Texts on Socrates. His commentary is pretty good too.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Nevertheless, the prevailing view of the Phaedo is that Socrates accepts, and argues in favour of, the immortality of the soul, even if he admits he doesn't necessarily understand the soul's destiny.Wayfarer

    Yes, this is the prevailing view and it had a strong influence on Christianity, but follow the arguments rather than prevailing opinion if you want to see what is really going on. But if you are going to do so I suggest you use a good translation such as West's Four Texts on Socrates. His commentary is pretty good too.
  • Manuel
    638
    Nevertheless, the prevailing view of the Phaedo is that Socrates accepts, and argues in favour of, the immortality of the soul, even if he admits he doesn't necessarily understand the soul's destiny.Wayfarer

    What does the soul amount to in this? Would in be analogous to something like consciousness or experience.

    For this to be plausible, consciousness would have to be something seperate-able from matter. Putting aside the topic of considering if consciousness is physical or not, I don't know how can one speak of experience absent all matter.

    I mean, would you be speaking of a kind of mind stuff than can be instantiated in different people or something like that?
  • Wayfarer
    12.1k
    Be aware of ‘objectification’. Questions about ‘what kind of thing or stuff’ are exactly that.

    One of the suggestions in the Phaedo is that what is immaterial can be understood in terms of the ideas. Likewise, what the soul ‘remembers’ are ideas that were understood before birth. And those are principles that are grasped by reason. I don’t think such ideas are objectively real. Whereas for us, what is objectively real comprises our cognitive horizon.

    (I’m off to work, back later.)
  • Banno
    12k
    ,
    There is a category error at hand here - as I think you indicate, presented by those who have said the mind is an object.

    Mind is to brain as digestion is to gut. That looks pretty clear to me, if still debatable.

    Suppose that someone were to suggest that digestion could become disembodied. That the digestion from one body could move to another.

    Would you think this idea had conceptual issues?

    Those are much the same as the conceptual issues I see in reincarnation.
  • Manuel
    638
    what the soul ‘remembers’ are ideas that were understood before birth. And those are principles that are grasped by reason. I don’t think such ideas are objectively real. Whereas for us, what is objectively real comprises our cognitive horizon.Wayfarer

    Sure. And we can speak of such terms today in terms of genetics, though we have no clue how genes could contribute to the kind of innate knowledge we have.

    As for cognitive horizons, I'm a little unsure what you may mean. If you'd said something like "the world is my representation.", then I'd have no objections.

    Have a good day at work. :)



    Yes. I agree. Mind is residue of the brain somehow.

    Nonetheless, granting that, we could imagine mental processes leaving the brain entirely, and we'd have a zombie of sorts. Not that this actually happens, just pointing out the much postulated zombie.

    For substance dualists, it is not an irrational belief to say that mind is qualitatively different from matter. I don't agree this formulation is entirely coherent, but it was an intuition back in the 17th century.

    Suppose that someone were to suggest that digestion could become disembodied. That the digestion from one body could move to another.

    Would you think this idea had conceptual issues?

    Those are much the same as the conceptual issues I see in reincarnation.
    Banno

    Initially, it faces the same problem as the mind does with the brain.

    I assume we could have physiological problems with our gut in such a way that we couldn't digest things. But this doesn't imply that digestion is something over and above what some organs do in species.

    Yes, I think that there are conceptual issues here. But I allow for the possibility of dualism, even if I think it's quite unlikely in regards to the mind/brain.
  • frank
    7k
    One of the suggestions in the Phaedo is that what is immaterial can be understood in terms of the ideas. Likewise, what the soul ‘remembers’ are ideas that were understood before birth. And those are principles that are grasped by reason — Wayfarer

    Plato solves one problem and makes another.

    If your innate knowledge comes from a previous life, then either the chain of people is infinite, or there was an 'Adam' who learned without previous lives.

    If this Adam could do it, anybody could. IOW, this Adam is an alternate solution to Meno's paradox, upon which Plato builds his case for anamnesis.

    Or maybe the Soul he's talking about isn't like a chain of lives, but instead is an atemporal well. Straight New Age, there.
  • Apollodorus
    531
    It is apparent that only a very few people claim to have memories of previous lives. So if we take them at their word, reincarnation is a very rare thing indeed.Banno

    Not at all. Your second statement doesn't follow from the first. If only a few people claim to have memories of previous lives this may simply mean that only a few have the capacity to remember those lives not that those lives didn't happen.

    That's exactly the position of Buddhist and other texts. Everybody has had past lives and everybody can develop the capacity to remember them by following certain mental training techniques as explained in my previous posts. If thousands of Buddhist monks had done those mental exercises for centuries without any result whatsoever, then I'm sure the truth would have come out by now.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    If your innate knowledge comes from a previous life, then either the chain of people is infinite, or there was an 'Adam' who learned without previous lives.frank

    Good point. But if there was this Adam then the myth of anamnesis cannot be taken too seriously, because it would not then rely on recollection from a previous life.

    The single best work on this is Jacob Klein's Commentary on Plato's Meno. It is a powerful example of how to read a Platonic dialogue.
  • frank
    7k
    Good point. But if there was this Adam then the myth of anamnesis cannot be taken too seriously, because it would not then rely on recollection from a previous life.Fooloso4

    You could rework it so it only seems like a chain to temporally bound beings. The soul is like a touchstone for multiple lives playing out. Anamnesis is that connection to the eternal.

    This is what I thought Plato meant when I first read Phaedo.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Anamnesis is that connection to the eternal.frank

    This would mean an eternal regress to past lives, there could be no life that was not a recollection from a previous life, so no life in which knowledge of the Forms first gained.

    It is instructive to compare the myth of recollection of the Forms with intellection of the Forms. It is curious that in the Republic knowledge of the Forms occurs through direct apprehension of them with the mind in the present, but the discussion of past lives in the Republic says nothing about knowledge of the Forms through recollection.
  • frank
    7k
    This would mean an eternal regress to past lives, there could be no life that was not a recollection from a previous life, so no life in which knowledge of the Forms first gained.Fooloso4

    Dammit, I just explained that. Why are you explaining it back to me? :joke:

    The alternate soul is atemporal. Out of time. Or like the anima mundi, impersonal.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k


    You suggest an Adam, but if knowledge is recollection there would have been no previous life to recollect. Hence knowledge cannot be recollection.

    I don't see how there can be recollection without some prior life that is recollected.
  • frank
    7k
    You suggest an Adam, but if knowledge is recollection there would have been no previous life to recollect. Hence knowledge cannot be recollection.Fooloso4

    Once again, you're telling me what I told you.

    "Eternal" sometimes means atemporal. Are you familiar with that idea?
  • Banno
    12k
    Yes, I think that there are conceptual issues here. But I allow for the possibility of dualism, even if I think it's quite unlikely in regards to the mind/brain.Manuel

    Yes!

    What could it mean to say that my digestion was happening in your gut?
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Once again, you're telling me what I told you.frank

    This is what you said:

    If your innate knowledge comes from a previous life, then either the chain of people is infinite, or there was an 'Adam' who learned without previous lives.frank

    Now it may be clear to you but based on what you said it may not be clear to others that an infinite regress makes knowledge impossible.

    There can be no Adam who gained knowledge without previous lives if knowledge is recollection from previous lives. This too makes knowledge impossible.

    "Eternal" sometimes means atemporal. Are you familiar with that idea?frank

    How can there be atemporal recollection of what is learned in a previous life? How can there be a previous life that is not in time? What does previous mean atemporally?
  • Banno
    12k
    Not at all. Your second statement doesn't follow from the first. If only a few people claim to have memories of previous lives this may simply mean that only a few have the capacity to remember those lives not that those lives didn't happen.Apollodorus

    You missed the bit where this was a reply specifically to the assertion that what is reincarnated is memory.

    If what is reincarnated is memory, and you have no memory of a previous life, you have not been reincarnated.

    If some activity - prayer or whatever - subsequently gives you those memories, then still, that is not evidence that you have been reincarnated, but that the memories have been reincarnated...

    You now have Napoleon's memories; that doesn't make you Napoleon.

    Again, memories are not synonymous with the self.
  • Banno
    12k
    The notion that we need reincarnation to explain innate knowledge strikes me as perilously ad hoc.
  • frank
    7k
    Now it may be clear to you but based on what you said it may not be clear to others that an infinite regress makes knowledge impossible.Fooloso4

    I don't think the infinite regress would make knowledge impossible. It's just that humans have only been around for a few million years. We'd have to come up with some bizarre explanation for the infinite number of people. Not metaphysically impossible, but definitely in need of some good reason to believe it.

    There can be no Adam who gained knowledge without previous lives if knowledge is recollection from previous lives. This too makes knowledge impossible.Fooloso4

    My point was that if we explain Adam's knowledge in some way, then we've produced an alternative solution to Meno's paradox.

    It's that Plato's argument implodes, not that knowledge is impossuble.

    How can there be atemporal recollection of what is learned in a previous life? How can there be a previous life that is not in time? What does previous mean atemporally?Fooloso4

    It looks previous to us. From outside of time, all the lives are happening simultaneously.

    This is a New Age take on reincarnation. I didn't invent it.
  • frank
    7k
    The notion that we need reincarnation to explain innate knowledge strikes me as perilously ad hoc.Banno

    It's about Meno's paradox.
  • Banno
    12k
    Indeed, it is. There's a better solution in Wittgenstein. There's a way of understanding a rule that is not given in saying it, but in following it.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    I don't think the infinite regress would make knowledge impossible.frank

    The problem is that if we start with the premise that knowledge is recollection then there would never be a time when knowledge was learned. But it cannot be recollected if it had not at some time first
    been learned.

    It's that Plato's argument implodes, not that knowledge is impossuble.frank

    The failure of the argument indicates that knowledge is not possible if knowledge is recollection. Plato offers no way past this aporia. This is not to say that knowledge is impossible, but that it is not possible based on the premise that it is recollection.

    With regard to reincarnation it means that if there is reincarnation the myth of recollection does not support it since it cannot even support its own claims.
  • frank
    7k
    The problem is that if we start with the premise that knowledge is recollection then there would never be a time when knowledge was learned.Fooloso4

    Correct.

    But it cannot be recollected if it had not at some time first
    been learned.
    Fooloso4

    Why? Why not an infinite chain of recollectors?

    The failure of the argument indicates that knowledge is not possible if knowledge is recollectionFooloso4

    I don't think so. It would just leave the conclusion without any support.

    With regard to reincarnation it means that if there is reincarnation the myth of recollection does not support it since it cannot even support its own claims.Fooloso4

    Why do you keep calling anamnesis a myth?
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