• Jack Cummins
    2.3k


    I was reading your thread and find it interesting, although I spent some time really thinking about the possibilities of reincarnation and decided it was very difficult to know for certain. I would much prefer the idea to any other form of life after death, and so much could be learned through many lives rather than the restrictions of one body and one set of life experiences.

    I originally began wondering about reincarnation as a child because one of my earliest memories was being in a cot, with one of my mother's friends offering me a biscuit. I had the thought 'I am coming round again'. It felt like a distinct waking up, not from sleep, but something more.

    I was also compared a lot to my grandfather, who died 6 weeks before I was born and began wondering if I was a reincarnation of him.One particular strange experience which I had was looking for a fairly rare writer on school stories from an earlier time, and my mum telling me that there had been a copy of that book in my grandfather's books which she threw away. I never suggested the idea that I could be a reincarnation of him to anyone in my family because it was not an accepted belief. Of course, I realise that I may have read too much into a coincidence and built up a story in childhood, possibly as a result of my mother's projection of her loss of her father, so shortly before my birth.

    One thing which I have wondered about in thinking about reincarnation memories, is if rather than people remembering specific personal memories, they are tapping into the collective unconscious of memories. However, I am aware that many people on this site find Jung's idea of the collective unconscious as rather unsound.

    But, I do think that it is possible that we are individual beings of consciousness, interconnected with others in time. Perhaps, we all aspects of an underlying group mind. I am not speaking of consciousness as some abstract force, as the idealists describe, but as permeating nature. It could be that nature and consciousness is like a web.So, we may have some connection with previous lifeforms on some level, with some continuity between the generations.

    I like to keep the idea of reincarnation as a matter for contemplation, as a possible way of seeing consciousness existing in other future lives. However, my own understanding is that the Buddha was uncertain about rebirth, so I like to keep an open mind.
  • Manuel
    638
    What could it mean to say that my digestion was happening in your gut?Banno

    Well I mean, you should probably ask for permission first...
  • Banno
    12k
    Good point. Will do.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    Why? Why not an infinite chain of recollectors?frank

    But this is not Socrates argument. See Meno 81c-d:

    Since the soul has been born into this world many times, and has thus been seeing
    the things of this world and the world below, there is nothing it has not learned. No wonder then that it can recollect about aretê and other things, since it knew about these things before; for all nature being akin, and the soul having learned all things; nothing hinders someone, recalling (or, as people call it, learning) one thing only, from discovering all the rest himself, if only he has some courage and does not completely weary of seeking; for the whole of seeking and learning is recollection.

    The argument requires having at some time previous to this life learning what is to be recollected.

    Why do you keep calling anamnesis a myth?frank

    See 81a-b:

    For I have heard from men and women wise in divine
    matters…
    MENO: Saying what?
    SOCRATES: True things, it seems to me, and kalon.
    MENO: What was it and who were the speakers?
    SOCRATES: Some of the speakers were priests and priestesses, who had studied
    how they might give an account of the holy things in their care: Pindar speaks of it also, and many other of the poets are in touch with divine things. What they say is this (consider whether it seems to you that they speak the truth): They declare that the soul of man is immortal, and at one time it has an end, which they call dying, and at another time is born again, but it is never completely destroyed.

    Mythos is something told without logos, that is, without providing an account or defense. This is part of Socrates criticism of the poets. They are the mouthpiece of the Muses, reporting what they have heard but being unable to explain it.
  • Sam26
    1.7k

    There is very little evidence in this thread that reincarnation is a real possibility. I'm not saying there isn't any evidence, only that in this thread there isn't much in the way of evidence.

    I would tackle the problem a bit differently. I would start with, is there any evidence of out-of-body experiences? Because the idea of reincarnation is dependent on whether or not it's possible that one's consciousness can exist apart from our present body. If it can exist apart from our bodies, then we have evidence that consciousness is more than brain activity. Thus, moving into other bodies (reincarnation) would be a real possibility, since we can move in and out of our present body.

    Furthermore, I would still contend that even if we don't understand the mechanisms involved, we have a considerable amount of testimonial evidence that OBEs do indeed happen. It is also true that since the claim is rather fantastic to some, that you need an extraordinary amount of evidence to support the idea that disembodied existence is possible or highly probable. My contention, and I've made this claim in other threads (viz., Does Consciousness Survive the Body), is that there is an enormous amount of testimonial evidence to support the conclusion that consciousness does survive the body.

    I often read, "There's no evidence," it's as if testimonial evidence, is not evidence. While it's true that testimonial evidence tends to be weak, it can also be strong under the right circumstances. What makes testimonial evidence strong is exactly what makes an inductive argument strong. What follows is a list of what makes the argument strong.

    First, number, how many people are claiming to have had an out-of-body experience? Gallop did a poll years ago, and estimated that about 5% of the population had an NDE. Worldwide that's hundreds of millions of people. Now numbers aren't the be-all-and-end-all of inductive arguments, which is why you have to have more than just numbers.

    Next, variety, viz., is it happening across cultures? Are there different age groups involved? Is the experience happening in a variety of circumstances? Has it happened through history? Is it happening to people with differing worldviews? The answer to all of the question is yes, it happens in a wide variety of situations and contexts, even to people who aren't near death.

    Third, consistency of the testimony, the consistency of the testimony has been examined by many, and it has been found to be consistent. People are seeing basically the same things. Moreover, the consistency of the testimonial evidence is just as consistent as any testimonial evidence that involves large numbers of people. There have been many academic studies out of the University of Virginia detailing the consistency of the testimonial evidence. Here is a link to one such paper -

    https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/360/2020/11/Nov-2020-NDE-C-CC.pdf

    The fourth criteria is truth of the premises. To know if the premises are true we need corroboration of the testimonial evidence, a high degree of consistency, and firsthand testimony. In all or most of these cases, it seems clear that we have all three. We have millions of accounts that can be corroborated by family members, friends, doctors, nurses, and hospice workers. Corroboration is important in establishing objectivity to what is a very subjective experience. It lends credence to the accounts. One example of corroboration is given in Pam's NDE out of Atlanta, GA, which can be seen on Youtube.

    Another aid in establishing the truth of the testimonial evidence are firsthand accounts, as opposed to hearsay. There are literally thousands of firsthand accounts being reported by the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS). Moreover, according to polling, there are millions of firsthand accounts of NDEs.

    There are other points that can be made about what strengthens an inductive argument, but this is a good starting point.

    The testimonial evidence, i.e., the various reports are all over the place, but IANDS is a good place to start.

    I don't see how you get more compelling testimonial evidence, it's overwhelming. Do I need to know the mechanism for OBEs in order to know if NDEs are veridical? Do I need to know the mechanism of any experience to know if the experience is real or genuine? Of course not. We have firsthand experiences all the time without knowing the mechanisms involved.

    There are a variety of academic papers on the following site dealing with the subjects of this thread.

    https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/category/academic-papers/
  • baker
    1.3k
    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".Banno
    I am very disappointed in you. I thought you better than you've shown yourself here.


    You're a semantic atomist.
    — baker
    You're a fool.
    Banno
    You apparently believe terms can be understood on their own somehow, completely apart from the context of theories.
    As if terms like "gravity", force", "molecule" could be made sense of without as much as a dictionary definition, what to speak of a scientific theory.
  • baker
    1.3k
    It is true that belief in reincarnation is a cultural taboo, One of Stevenson’s many critics said he was a deadly threat to everything Western culture holds dear.Wayfarer
    Absolutely. It's peculiar how otherwise intelligent people can turn into morons once the topic is reincarnation/rebirth.


    (Personally, I myself don't even believe in rebirth or reincarnation, I'm just familiar with the standard doctrines about them.)
  • Apollodorus
    531
    I don't see how you get more compelling testimonial evidence, it's overwhelming. Do I need to know the mechanism for OBEs in order to know if NDEs are veridical? Do I need to know the mechanism of any experience to know if the experience is real or genuine? Of course not. We have firsthand experiences all the time without knowing the mechanisms involved.Sam26

    Correct. What seems to be happening here is that some people have decided in advance that reincarnation is impossible, irrational and evil, and that any consideration of the possibility should be suppressed by all available means.
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    "Possibility?" Point me to the post (or thread) where a case in principle is made that is logically sound / non-fallacious or warranted by sufficient evidence. Extraterrestrial intelligent life in principle it's warrant to assert is possible because terrestrial intelligent life exists and the chemical precursors needed for organic life such as that constituting Earth's biome are abundant everywhere we make the appropriate observations in the observable universe. So what makes "reincarnation" a factual "possibility"?
  • frank
    7k
    Why? Why not an infinite chain of recollectors? — frank


    But this is not Socrates argument. See Meno 81c-d:
    Fooloso4

    You had asserted that the infinite backward chain makes knowledge impossible.

    Now you're just noting that Plato says the soul does learn.

    My gripe was that you're tossing "impossible" around a little too freely.

    Mythos is something told without logos, that is, without providing an account or defense. This is part of Socrates criticism of the poets. They are the mouthpiece of the Muses, reporting what they have heard but being unable to explain it.Fooloso4


    Anamnesis is not part of the myth of reincarnation passed down by priests. It's Plato's solution to a problem: that teaching is frequently a matter of bringing a person's awareness to what they already know. He's not wrong about that. Some things can't be taught, such as the meaning of "true."
  • Apollodorus
    531
    One thing which I have wondered about in thinking about reincarnation memories, is if rather than people remembering specific personal memories, they are tapping into the collective unconscious of memories. However, I am aware that many people on this site find Jung's idea of the collective unconscious as rather unsound.Jack Cummins

    Well, one thing doesn't necessarily exclude the other. If consciousness can operate outside of and independently from the physical body, then both scenarios are (theoretically) possible.

    One theory I've heard of is that people can pick up "psychic" impressions left by others at their work place, on public transport or other places, which subsequently become activated during dreams, etc. when, like in meditation or contemplation, the mind is relaxed and detached from external objects.

    Living beings can leave minute traces of scent on surrounding objects that can be detected from great distances and sometimes after a long time by other living beings such as dogs, wolves, etc.

    What if thoughts and emotions can also leave similar imprints on the environment?

    And what about out-of-body experiences, telepathy, etc.? As others have pointed out, the cumulative evidence seems to be sufficiently strong to suggest that even scientifically "inexplicable" phenomena may have some truth in them.
  • baker
    1.3k
    Presumably you mean something when you use the word "reincarnation". So what do you mean by it?
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    Besides my best, most charitable, guess on p.1, I'm use the term mostly to refer to the OP which raised it, trying to get it's advocates to tell me/us what they mean by it and wtf gets "reincarnated". So far nothing but woo-ful incoherence and perennial fantasies.
  • baker
    1.3k
    Well, one thing doesn't necessarily exclude the other. If consciousness can operate outside of and independently from the physical body, then both scenarios are (theoretically) possible.Apollodorus
    I think looking for evidence of rebirth/reincarnation or that consciousness can operate outside of and independently from the physical body is a dead end (and bound to be a dead end, as long as one insists on being Humpty Dumpty).

    In Early Buddhism, belief in rebirth is not specified as a primary requirement for practice. The only such requirement is belief in kamma, ie. the belief that what you do matters.

    In such discussions, many people are trying to take far too big steps, no wonder they stumble.
  • baker
    1.3k
    Then why are you discussing this?
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    I'm waiting. Interjecting my own speculations to spice up this idiot stew. 'Why are you asking me why' instead of making sense of this perennial nonsense?
  • frank
    7k
    I'm waiting. Interjecting my own speculations to spice up this idiot stew. 'Why are you asking me why' instead of making sense of this perennial nonsense?180 Proof

    Eh, you're probably just bored.
  • 180 Proof
    3.4k
    No doubt. :yawn:
  • baker
    1.3k
    Eh, you're probably just bored.frank
    A recipe for wasting time, and for confusion.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    You had asserted that the infinite backward chain makes knowledge impossible.

    Now you're just noting that Plato says the soul does learn.
    frank

    From my previous posts:

    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
    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.Fooloso4

    My gripe was that you're tossing "impossible" around a little too freely.frank

    I think it follows from the argument. Knowledge is recollection of what was learned in a previous life, but if it was learned then it could not have been in that case that knowledge was recollected. This a starting point. Recollection then is not an infinite backward chain. At some point each of us had to first learn if there is from that time forward recollection of what was learned.

    Anamnesis is not part of the myth of reincarnation passed down by priests.frank

    Anamnesis (recollection) refers to what was learned in a previous life and can now be recollected. Without reincarnation there can be no anamnesis.

    It's Plato's solution to a problem: that teaching is frequently a matter of bringing a person's awareness to what they already know.frank

    There is a difference between already know and known via an infinite regress.
  • frank
    7k

    So what I didn't make clear is that this is all me. It's my argument: that if my knowledge is recollection, then either there must be an infinite chain of lives and no one ever learns (which would probably fit with some forms of Neoplatonism since it says that our own minds are reflections of the Divine Mind), or there had to be an Adam, whose learning screws up Plato's argument.

    I'm sure somebody else noticed this about Plato's solution to Meno's paradox in the last 2400 years, but I don't know who and I don't know how they dealt with it. So from my point of view, you're continually trying to teach me my own argument and nitpicking at the edges. You're concentrating on how it might screw up what Plato is commonly thought to have said.

    Since it occurred to me immediately upon reading Phaedo, I just reworked his story so that it makes more sense. I guess I was influenced by new age ideas prevalent at the time, but I don't remember thinking of it that way.
  • frank
    7k
    Eh, you're probably just bored.
    — frank
    A recipe for wasting time, and for confusion.
    baker

    Not according to Neil Gaiman. He says step one in creativity is to allow yourself to become bored.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    So what I didn't make clear is that this is all me.frank

    That had crossed my mind, but with your mention of Plato, Meno, Phaedo, and anamnesis I took it that you were discussing the dialogue.

    So from my point of view, you're continually trying to teach me my own argument and nitpicking at the edges.frank

    That was not my intention. My remarks were all made with regard to the attempt to understand Plato's Meno. Perhaps in my eagerness to discuss Plato I missed what you were doing. My apologies.
  • Apollodorus
    531
    In Politeia, Plato presents an account of the adventures of the war hero Er. The story begins as a man named Er, son of Armenios of Pamphylia, dies in battle. When the bodies of those who died in the battle are collected, ten days after his death, Er’s body remains undecomposed. Two days later he revives on his funeral-pyre and tells others of his journey in the afterlife, including an account of reincarnation and the celestial spheres of the astral plane. The account also includes the idea that moral people are rewarded and immoral people punished after death.

    Plato's Er's Near-Death Experience - Near-Death Experiences and the Afterlife

    Personally, I find the story very interesting but I'm guessing that some people just get upset when they hear unusual stories like this one because they contradict their normal expectations and rattle their habitual thought-processes and the way they are used, or have been conditioned, to see things and interpret the world around them.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    So we agree then.Apollodorus

    I'll run with that.
  • god must be atheist
    2.9k
    Not according to Neil Gaiman. He says step one in creativity is to allow yourself to become bored.frank

    True. Daydreaming follows to allay the boredom. You end up either creating the Theory of Specific Relativity, or masturbating.
  • frank
    7k
    That was not my intention. My remarks were all made with regard to the attempt to understand Plato's Meno. Perhaps in my eagerness to discuss Plato I missed what you were doing. My apologies.Fooloso4

    Oh, no problem, we were just getting more and more at crossed purposes.
  • Banno
    12k
    Thanks, Sam.

    I'm aware of your intrigue. I'm only peripherally interested, and responded to the request in the OP for some discussion of the conceptual apparatus around reincarnation. I pointed to the core problem with reincarnation - what is it that is reincarnated - and have not received a satisfactory reply. NDEs and OBEs are a different issue.

    I'm not going to be convinced by anecdotal accounts alone, interesting as they may be, while it remains so unclear what it is that is reincarnated. A more critical browse through the posts here shows a pretence of agreement amongst a tangle of discord.

    I'll repeat what I said about digestion, by way of explaining how the picture I have of mind does not lend itself to reincarnation.

    Following Searle and others, 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.

    Further, if what is reincarnated is memory, and one has no memory of a previous life, one has 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, rather than that those memories have been reincarnated. You now have Napoleon's memories; that doesn't make you Napoleon. Again, memories are not synonymous with the self.

    I'm happy to say that there might be something in reincarnation, but the conceptual background is at best nascent. In that regard the simplest and best explanation for the anecdotes discussed here remains credulence and deception.
  • Banno
    12k
    I am very disappointed in you.baker
    You've completely misrepresented what I have said, both here and in my post history, in order to suit your own narrative.

    You don't rate a reply, only a rebuke.
  • Sam26
    1.7k
    Thanks for the response. I don't have much more to say.
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