• Sam26
    1.4k
    and yet I still fail to see the relevance of NDEs in relation to the question of mortalitysime

    Because a large percentage of NDEs and pre-death or death-bed visions are interactions with the deceased. Therefore, one can conclude based not only on this, but given all the other points that have been made, that we are much more than simply this body (the brain, etc).
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    An important epistemological point is that one of the main ways we justify a belief is through testimony, i.e., we learn things from people who are in a position to know. How do we know that Mary was at the party? Because several of our friends, who were at the party, told us. How do we know that Mr. Smith robbed the bank? Because several witnesses saw him rob the bank. How do we know that quantum physics is a reality? Because scientists have told us that countless experiments have yielded the same results over-and-over again (e.g., the many 2-slit experiments). Most of us are not involved with these experiments, i.e., we take the word of others (testimony).

    The amount of information we learn from others is massive, and much of it is conveyed by testimony. Moreover, we don't doubt most of it, because if we did, we would be reduced to silence. Even our concepts and words are learned from others. Our culture would fall apart if we doubted the truthfulness of all such testimony.

    However, this doesn't mean that everything that is conveyed to us is true. Thus, the need to question testimonial evidence. For example, is the person in a position to know? Were they there? Second, is the person skilled in the area in question? Third, is the person trustworthy? Fourth, does the testimony harmonize with other known truths?
  • sime
    491
    Because a large percentage of NDEs and pre-death or death-bed visions are interactions with the deceased. Therefore, one can conclude based not only on this, but given all the other points that have been made, that we are much more than simply this body (the brain, etc).Sam26

    I don't follow. All that exists are verbal reports and their proximal neurological correlates that are roughly clustered, as is expected by the shared structure of human brains that learn and interact within a shared culture.

    These observations tend to reinforce the scientific usefulness of the Cartesian perspective, that mental states should be considered local, discrete and internal to each and every human brain.

    Certainly there are drawbacks and oversights of the standard Cartesian view, but I don't seem them as being intimately connected to the phenomena of NDEs.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    In trying to revisit some theories relative to EM fields of consciousness :

    "My hypothesis is that consciousness is the experience of information, from the inside. There is a postulate in physics that information is neither created or destroyed – the conservation of information ‘law’. It is however just a postulate, nobody has ever proved it. But, if true, it would suggest that awareness (associated with that information) – in some form – might survive death." JJ McFadden

    There have been some new studies (2007) in physics that I'm looking at now, which I'll report back later on to see if there are some other clues... .

    In the meantime, we all know William James. He had this feeling that the brain filters our access to a vast consciousness that extends beyond the limits of neural activity.

    I guess in both instances, one could analogize to the computer 'cloud server' idea... .
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    In trying to revisit some theories relative to EM fields of consciousness :3017amen

    It's a very interesting topic, but this thread isn't about theories of consciousness. I don't think we have enough information to come up with a good theory. It's fun to speculate, and I do some of that when talking about NDEs. I don't consider my argument to be speculation, but there are some areas of NDEs where we can speculate because there isn't enough evidence to make a good inference.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    No worries, I felt like there was another missing component to the discussion that could be helpful. Thus here was my reasoning below:

    -NDE's have been experienced by people
    -NDE's have been corroborated by third persons
    -NDE's themselves are conscious, subconscious and unconscious phenomena, that happens to people

    -people have consciousness
    - the nature of consciousness is largely unexplained
    -EM fields of consciousness is a concept that tries to explain some human phenomenon (and possibly NDE's)
    -the NDE phenomenon involves conscious states of Being outside the body
    -EM fields of consciousness partly involves theoretical storage of all consciousness states
    -physical theories posit that energy [one's conscious energy] storage include vector space, black holes, or some other unexplained space of possible storage

    So with that said, if the NDE individual has these out of body experiences, yet are presumed dead, how are they able to use their minds to think? Where does their stream of consciousness flow? (How or where does the conscious energy come from without blood supply?)
    Is it a supercomputer that has storage capability?

    These are Metaphysical questions that may not be answerable now, but biophysics/science is providing some new clues of analogous benefit.
  • PoeticUniverse
    803
    NDE tunnels of light and such can be explained by neurology, and OBE’s by a condition called sleep paralysis. They can also be induced, resulting in full blown episodes. Neither, then, are proof of a beyond, but of an altered brain state.

    It is also the case that people of different religions see different religious figures during NDE’s, an indication that the phenomenon occurs within the mind, not without.

    OBE’s are easily induced by drugs. The fact that there are receptor sites in the brain for such artificially produced chemicals means that there are naturally produced chemical in the brain that, under certain circumstances (the stress of an trauma or an accident, for example), can induce any or all of the experiences typically associated with an NDE or OBE. They are then nothing more than wild trips induced by the trauma of almost dying. Lack of oxygen also produces increased activity though disinhibition—mental modes that give rise to consciousness.

    What about the experience of a tunnel in an NDE? Well, the visual cortex is on the back of the brain where information from the retina is processed. Lack of oxygen, plus drugs generated, can interfere with the normal rate of firing by nerve cells in this area. When this occurs ‘stripes’ of neuronal activity move across the visual cortex, which is interpreted by the brain as concentric rings or spirals. These spirals may be ‘seen’ as a tunnel.

    We normally only see clearly only at about the size of a deck of cards held at arm’s length (Try looking just a little away and the clarity goes way down)—this is the center of the tunnel which is caused by neuronal stripes. I am not really dying to go down the tunnel…
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    Robert Kuhn and Sam Parnia have a short talk about consciousness and the death of the body. The following is my response to the talk.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz_4FGdWVF8

    As some of you know I'm not religious, but I do think there is evidence or good reasons to suppose that consciousness survives death (I go further than Sam Parnia). Also, some of you know that my two areas of interest are epistemology and near death experiences (NDEs), which I've been studying for many years. My views on epistemology inform my views on NDEs; and one of the most common mistakes made when I hear people (educated or not) talk about NDEs is the place or priority they give to scientific evidence (sometimes justified, sometimes not) as opposed to other kinds of evidence. The mistaken idea is that if science hasn't answered the question, then we don't have knowledge of the question at hand. This is the mistake that Kuhn makes all the time, and Parnia is making when he talks about the evidence for consciousness surviving death.

    It only takes a cursory look at the way we use the word know to understand that knowledge is arrived at in at least several ways besides experimentation. I surely don't need science to inform me that there is an apple tree in my back yard, or that the orange juice I'm currently drinking is sweet. I also don't need some experiment to inform me that I know algebra, or that German and French are languages. Correct reasoning (logic) also informs what I claim to know, i.e. inductive and deductive reasoning. Finally, one of the most pervasive ways of gaining knowledge is through testimonial evidence, i.e., much of what we know is handed down to us from scientists, historians, mathematicians, and physicists, to name a few, so, there are at several ways of attaining knowledge apart from science. If this is true, and I believe it is, then appealing to science all the time for our fund of knowledge is a fallacy. I'm not saying that science doesn't have an important place in what we claim to know, I'm simply saying that science is not the end-all and be-all of what we claim to know.

    Much of what Sam Parnia claims about consciousness relies on the testimonial evidence of NDEers. If this is true, then I believe that he's either ignoring some of the testimonial evidence, or he doesn't think it's strong enough for some reason he hasn't enumerated. For example, there is plenty of testimonial evidence that supports the idea that consciousness survives for much longer than he concludes. Many people who have NDEs report seeing their deceased relatives, which by definition means that they have survived, in many cases, for many decades after their bodies have decomposed. Moreover, there is other firsthand testimonial evidence that suggests we've been around for many lifetimes.

    The following was taken from page 14 of this thread. I want to reiterate what makes a strong inductive argument based on testimonial evidence. Or, one could ask, what makes strong testimonial evidence?

    As many of you know, the criteria for a good inductive (in this case an inductive argument based on testimonial evidence) argument is much different than the criteria of a good deductive argument. The criteria of a good inductive argument are as follows:

    (1) number
    (2) variety
    (3) scope of the conclusion
    (4) truth of the premises
    (5) cogency

    First, number. It seems rather obvious that if you have a greater number of testimonials that say X happened, then the stronger the argument. This does not mean that the conclusion relies solely on numbers, because numbers in themselves are not sufficient.

    Second, variety. The greater the variety of cases cited the stronger the conclusion. When examining the conclusion of an inductive argument the conclusion is either strong or weak, which is much different from a good deductive argument, where the conclusion follows with absolute necessity. The difference being what is probably or likely the case (inductive arguments), verses what necessarily follows (deductive arguments).

    Third, scope of the conclusion. This has already been covered briefly in the opening paragraph. It means that the less the conclusion claims the stronger the argument. In other words, conclusions that are broad in scope are more difficult to defend. A conclusion that is limited in scope is easier to defend.

    Fourth, truth of the premises. Clearly this means that the premises must be true, which by the way, is the same criteria that makes a good deductive argument, i.e., a good deductive argument must be sound (soundness means the argument is valid and the premises are true).

    (a) Also, since we are dealing with testimonial evidence, in order to know if the testimonial evidence is true we need corroboration, i.e., we need an objective way to verify some of the testimonial evidence. This helps to establish the truth of the testimonial evidence, and since the evidence is testimonial evidence, it helps to establish the fourth criteria of a good inductive argument, viz., the truth of the premises.

    (b) Another important factor in determining the truth of testimonial evidence is firsthand testimony, as opposed to hearsay or second-hand testimony. Firsthand testimony is stronger than hearsay or second-hand testimony, all things being equal.

    (c) Consistency of the reports is another important criterion in terms of getting to the truth. However, testimonial evidence does not have to be perfectly consistent to be credible. When dealing with a large number of reports you will inevitably find some inconsistency. So, inconsistency itself is not enough to rule out the reports unless the inconsistency is widespread, and of such a number that it affects the quality and number of consistent reports. So, although consistency is important, it must be looked at in terms of the overall picture.

    Fifth is cogency. You rarely hear this criteria, but it's very important in terms of effectiveness. Any argument's (deductive or inductive) effectiveness is going to be based on whether the person to whom the argument is given, knows the premises are true. For example, if I give the following argument:

    The base of a souffle is a roux.
    This salmon dish is a souffle.
    Hence, the base of this salmon dish is a roux.

    If you do not know what a souffle or a roux is, then you do not know if the premises are true, so how would you know if the conclusion is true. You may know that the argument is valid based on its form, but you would not know if the premises are true. Thus, you would not know if it is sound. For any argument to be effective, you have to know if the premises are true; and since knowledge varies from person to person, an arguments effectiveness is going to vary from person to person.

    Finally, the main point of this post is to point out that we can know many things apart from what science tells us, and I think this is where Kuhn and Parnia go astray.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    As a matter of fact, Wittgenstein plays an important part in my epistemology. Consider where I talk about the many uses of the word know, which is taken from the PI and especially OC.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    This is a video documentary showing the commonality of NDEs. It's over an hour long, but worth watching.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uDA4RgHolw&t=1996s
  • sime
    491
    As a matter of fact, Wittgenstein plays an important part in my epistemology. Consider where I talk about the many uses of the word know, which is taken from the PI and especially OC.Sam26

    But what about ontics? If the meaning of a proper noun, say "Elvis Presley", is considered to be a family-resemblance of uses across partially over-lapping language-games, then the question as to whether Elvis Presley is dead or alive doesn't have a single definite answer. In Karoake, as far as i'm concerned, if it looks like Elvis and sounds like Elvis, then it's Elvis.

    Our understanding of the "soul" of a person has much in common with our attribution of sense to their name, which is retained after the expiration of a referent bearing that name. If an anti-realist concerning other-minds ontologically prioritises sense over reference, he will answer questions concerning immortality very differently to the realist, for these opposing view-points use different and incompatible criteria for personal identity.

    Realists also vehemently disagree with one another. One argues that "Elvis" is token-identical with the current state of a corpse buried at Graceland and that evidence for Elvis's reincarnation on earth or in heaven is therefore logically impossible. The other says "Elvis" is type-identical with a class of potential physical objects, and that reincarnation is therefore physically possible but unlikely. The presentist argues "Elvis" is meaningless because nothing bears the name in his present vicinity etc.

    When you argue for the possibility of evidence of consciousness surviving the body, what is your understanding of a proper-name?
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    When you argue for the possibility of evidence of consciousness surviving the body, what is your understanding of a proper-name?sime

    Roughly, there has to be some consistency of memory and experience to be able to say that that person is Elvis. Memory and one's experiences create a kind of narrative that follows that person throughout his or her life. I'm of the opinion that identity goes beyond the physical body. Others believe that one's identity is necessarily tied to the physical body, or the brain. I would tie a proper name to that which has the memories and/or experiences of the one we call or called Elvis. When we talk about Elvis we're talking about the one who had the experiences associated with a particular life. Whether one's identity goes on after death is the question at hand. I believe the evidence is strong, given my argument, that one's consciousness or identity survives.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    If you have the time, this video interview of Dr. Bruce Greyson talking and answering questions about NDEs is worth listening to.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QYBhzi67NY
  • 3017amen
    1.5k


    Thank you Sam...I've listened to some other stuff from Greyson, and he is very articulate and well rounded. He talks about theoretical physics, classic philosophy, etc., and he tries to speak to the problems of consciousness from a world view.

    Through his studies and data concerning NDE's, he believes that consciousness exists out there in some form as an informational data base. Meaning, he believes the mind is a receptor that filters EM fields of information/metaphysical information.

    As an analogy, and I realize the circular argument of whether mathematics is out-there discovered from time to time by a receptive mind, or a purely invented human construct, but where are you with the mind-body/materialist problem?
  • Relativist
    1.3k
    There is a great deal of testimonial evidence of alien encounters. All that have been investigated have been discovered false, none verified as true. More significantly, the probability of an advanced, intelligent civilization within a navigable distance, who were motivated to make the long journey, is extremely low. Conclusions:
    1.there have been zero alien encounters
    2. Testimonial evidence is not a reliable means of establishing that an anomolous type of event can occur.
  • 3017amen
    1.5k
    Through his studies and data concerning NDE's, he believes that consciousness exists out there in some form as an informational data base. Meaning, he believes the mind is a receptor that filters EM fields of information/metaphysical information.

    Hey Sam, I failed to mention that his notion of out-there relates to his studies, where brain activity flatten out, yet people apparently still had brain function/experiences... ?
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    where are you with the mind-body/materialist problem?3017amen

    I'm definitely in the camp with those who believe that the mind is independent of the body. I believe the argument I gave above is strong, given all the data, and taken as a whole. I too believe the brain acts as a receptor, but I also believe we exist as persons apart from our bodies.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    There is a great deal of testimonial evidence of alien encounters. All that have been investigated have been discovered false, none verified as true. More significantly, the probability of an advanced, intelligent civilization within a navigable distance, who were motivated to make the long journey, is extremely low. Conclusions:
    1.there have been zero alien encounters
    2. Testimonial evidence is not a reliable means of establishing that an anomolous type of event can occur.
    Relativist

    It's true that there is a great deal of testimonial evidence regarding alien encounters and UFOs, but if you read my argument above it's not just based on numbers, there are other criteria that go into making a good inductive argument based on testimonial evidence. However, the best testimonial evidence about a UFO is from Fmr. Commander Dave Fravor, take a look at it, it's interesting. I don't know what it means, but it is interesting.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS2ZKw3G9-w&t=2s
  • Relativist
    1.3k
    If something is believed to be impossible, what sort of evidence would be needed to undercut that belief?Certainly not testimonial evidence.
  • leo
    830


    Can't convince someone who isn't willing to listen, that's for sure. Maybe ponder some more on your belief that "the probability of an advanced, intelligent civilization within a navigable distance, who were motivated to make the long journey, is extremely low". How would you know what is a long journey to a civilization more advanced than yours? How would you know that the speed of light is a limit to them?
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    If something is believed to be impossible, what sort of evidence would be needed to undercut that belief?Certainly not testimonial evidence.Relativist

    Believing something is impossible, and something really being impossible, are two different things. I'm sure that at one time people believed it impossible for man to fly, and how did that turn out? I'd be careful about claiming things are impossible, there are things that fall into this category, but most of the time when people say something is impossible, all that is really meant is that it's improbable. Moreover, there are different degrees of possibility.

    I'm not interested in turning this thread into an argument about whether aliens can travel great distances, but scientists have been talking about the possibility of bending space, which would allow us to travel great distances. It's difficult to say what a civilization thousands of years ahead of us could do. You probably couldn't even imagine the technological advances such a civilization would have.

    Testimonial evidence certainly could overturn something that people believe to be impossible. However, it would have to be strong testimonial evidence, based on the outline I gave above.
  • Relativist
    1.3k
    Can't convince someone who isn't willing to listen, that's for sure. Maybe ponder some more on your belief that "the probability of an advanced, intelligent civilization within a navigable distance, who were motivated to make the long journey, is extremely low".leo
    Willingness to listen isn't the issue. The issue is epistemelogical:
    1. Proposition PAL (Probability of Aliens is very Low): per established science, the probability of aliens travelling to earth is vanishingly low (e.g. speed of light is an absolute limit -per general relativity; life-permitting exoplanets are rare; abiogenesis is less than certain on apparent life-permitting planets; evolution of intelligence is a matter of chance - there's no reason to think it inevitable; likelihood of intelligent life having the technology, motivation, resources, and longevity to travel enormous distances is very low).
    2. Many people have claimed to have encounted aliens, and those that have been thoroughly investigated have been debunked.
    3. The debunked cases show there to be a psychological phenomenon of believing they've contacted aliens. Call it AES (Alien Encounter Syndrome)
    4. All testimonial evidence is consistent with (explainable as) AES (i.e. none has been shown to be actual aliens)
    5. Therefore there is no epistemic basis to defeat
    belief in PAL (see #1).
  • Relativist
    1.3k
    Believing something is impossible, and something really being impossible, are two different things.Sam26
    The issue is entirely epistemological: do reports of OBEs constitute adequate evidence to justify belief that OBEs are actual?

    A dualist has the background belief that minds are immaterial. For them, there's no obvious obstacle to accepting that a mind might detach from the body.

    A materialist has the background belief that the mind is identical to the brain or at least is a product of brain function so that there is an inextricable link. The mere claim that an OBE has occurred will not undercut this belief.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    Consciousness Without Brain Activity: Near Death Experiences - Dr. Bruce Greyson

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_qBIw7qyHU&t=773s
  • christian2017
    1.1k
    consciousness survives the body.
    — Sam26

    This I don't see.

    Death is the most extreme trauma one's body can suffer. What you have are reports of living people who experienced this extreme trauma.

    What you do not, and presumably cannot, have are reports from disembodied consciousnesses.

    I understand that the claim is that, perhaps for several minutes, someone's consciousness persisted during a period when their body met one or another definition of death. But you do not, and presumably cannot, have reports from people made during this period. You can only have the reports of those who were revived.

    Those who were revived suffered extreme trauma. Isn't the most natural assumption that such a traumatic experience would leave traces? Wouldn't a neuroscientific explanation be the most natural?
    Srap Tasmaner



    It could be they wanted to see themselves in third person as that would be the reasonable assumption if your feeling/consciessness was separate from your brain. Basically i'm saying there belief that they saw something is imagined because they "went crazy" and thought they experienced something they didn't experience because of "stress". This is a possibility.

    I believe in the supernatural because i can't explain "feeling" beyond the possibility that the whole universe feels and we are just a subset.
  • christian2017
    1.1k
    Does the conclusion follow, that is, I'm interested in knowing where the argument fails, if it fails at all.

    Before I put forth the argument, which is based on testimonial evidence, I want us to clarify several points.

    First, that testimonial evidence is a valid way of justifying one's conclusions, and moreover, one's beliefs. Most of what we know comes from the testimony of others. Thus, it's a way of attaining knowledge.

    Second, since the argument will be based on testimonial evidence, and given that testimonial evidence is notoriously weak, what criteria makes testimonial evidence strong?

    Third, if testimonial evidence is of something out of the ordinary, say extraterrestrials or something mystical, then it would seem to follow that the evidence would require a higher standard than what is generally required of good testimonial evidence.

    Fourth, since the argument falls under the category of metaphysics, how do we understand what is meant by reality? I'm a later Wittgensteinian when it comes to understanding words, that is, I don't believe there is a definition or theory that will cover every use of certain word (for example, words like real or reality). However, I don't believe Wittgenstein was correct in his assumption that the mystical can only be shown (prayer and meditation for example) and not talked about in terms of what's true or false. Wittgenstein believed this in his early and later philosophy, which is one of the reasons why he was against arguments for the existence of God. Although he was sympathetic to man's reach for the mystical, which is why he didn't agree with the logical positivists.

    In the next post I will describe what I believe to be the ingredients of strong testimonial evidence. I'm interested in all comments, but I'm especially interested in the comments of those of you who have a strong background in philosophy, and also in the related sciences.

    I will present the argument after we clarify these foundational issues, at least provide some clarification.
    Sam26

    While i agree with your OP and your method, the conclusion i've come to at this point in my life is there are numerous variables (and alternative theories of why something....) and finding an exact solution isn't impossible but very hard. Perhaps you can find a book or write a book about this subject. I probably wouldn't read the book because i'm already convinced. If you wrote the book and just posted parts of the book, i would read the parts.
  • sime
    491
    I don't even trust personal testimonies when it comes to deciding the veracity of the humdrum theories of behavioural psychology, let alone for deciding the veracity of pseudo-scientific mystical hypotheses.

    That said, i have sympathy with the sentiments expressed by beliefs in "life after death"; not in the sense of it constituting an empirically contingent and testable scientific hypothesis, but because the opposite notion of 'eternal oblivion' is equally nonsensical.
  • Sam26
    1.4k
    I don't even trust personal testimonies when it comes to deciding the veracity of the humdrum theories of behavioural psychology, let alone for deciding the veracity of pseudo-scientific mystical hypotheses.sime

    Most everything you believe has come from the testimony of others, if you doubted most of it you would be reduced to silence. Professors, books, language, science was given to you by others, you probably had little to do with creating the information yourself.

    The argument is logical (inductive argument), don't give your opinions, give reasons why the argument fails.
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