• Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    I think to use the term “theory” in an academic context give the content of the paper is both disingenuous and likely purposefully deceitful.I like sushi

    And I wonder if theorising, in this sense, is the same as art? I.e. if the artist says it's art, then it is. Our bit is to judge it (for ourselves!) to be good art or bad art. So what I'm saying is that a theory is a theory, if the person presenting it says it is. Our job is to judge the value of the theory. And so far, it looks like our judgements mainly coincide: this is not a good theory. :up:
  • Joshs
    683
    The idea is fascinating and appealing. All I can do is share my sense of what the minimal requirement is for the having of any experience, presence, state.
    You argue for the idea of an instant of time constituting a state that can persist as itself, that is to say, to have a duration. In the case of NEC, the duration would be eternal. Maybe you wouldn't want to use words like duration or persistence, because they imply passage of time. Your idea that
    contrast in "content, texture, contour, outline, features" was observed by the dying person within the state at t1Bryon Ehlmann
    supposes that one can experience these features simultaneously, at once, as one single state. But anything that constitutes a feature, a color, a shape, form, line, dot, registers itself as a change over something else. IF your dying state is a plurality of forms, features, shapes, sizes, colors then it is not just t1, but also t2, t3... Every dot, line, contour in that dying 'state' must have its own time becasue it is its own change. When we look at a painting we don't take it all in at once, there is a temporal sequence of changes as we make our way over the space.

    Let me be more clear. If you look at the / (slash mark) I just typed, you only see it in the first place becasue it emerges out of the white background as a change. But if you continue to stare at it , it doesn't simply persist self-identically from that point onward without change. There must be continual change in order for it to appear constant and unchanging for you. This is how perception works. Our pupils oscillate rapidly from side to side almost imperceptibly ,, in order for stable objects in our visual field to continue to appear the same . Every feature, not only in order to be recognized in the first place, but in order to continue to be itself identically, must continue to change in order to be perceived.
    So your timeless state , if it is to be a state of features, contours, shapes, colors, must be in continual process of transformation in order to be what it is, and this is the very definition of time.
    On the other hand, a state with no time is the very definition of nothingness.Time doesn't begin with stasis and then add change onto this. Change is the precondition for stasis, state. Meaning is change. As soon as change disappears, the world disappears, even if that world is just a mental picture.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    Words like "duration" or "persistence" are often used by those arguing against the NEC but viewing it from the wrong perspective, the material perspective of the living. The eternal aspect of the NEC, which implies duration and persistence, can only be seen from the perspective of the dying person. From this perspective the NEC is eternal. The living need to view this as an illusion.

    You state "So your timeless state, if it is to be a state of features, contours, shapes, colors, must be in continual process of transformation in order to be what it is, and this is the very definition of time."

    You seem to be saying that any "state of features, contours, ... " cannot be timeless. Is the state captured by a photograph or by the frame of a motion picture not timeless? Is a discrete conscious moment itself, which is rendered by the brain based on "continual" unconscious processing within the brain, not timeless? Once rendered, the content of such moment never changes but is only replaced some milliseconds later by another such moment.

    My article on the NEC Theory states: "The present moment includes our sense of the flow of time, of self, and of life by incorporating selective memories of past conscious moments and the anticipation of future ones—especially the next one, which we naturally assume will be consistent with the last."

    Is perhaps the perceived change you seek not already incorporated into each discrete conscious moment by "the selective memories past conscious moments" or perhaps the unconscious processing of ever-changing sensual information? See the (Herzog, Kammer, & Scharnowski, 2016) reference in the NEC article.

    The NEC article also states: "One is aware of only what one perceives in these [discrete conscious] moments." So, in trying to grasp the NEC, the most basis question is: Assuming someone dies without ever awakening after having let's say a dream or NDE, precisely what will they perceive to make them aware that those last "features, contours, ...," present in their last conscious dream or NDE moment, are no more?
  • Joshs
    683
    Is the state captured by a photograph or by the frame of a motion picture not timeless? Is a discrete conscious moment itself, which is rendered by the brain based on "continual" unconscious processing within the brain, not timeless?Bryon Ehlmann

    We call such states 'timeless' or instantaneous or simultaneous, but that's just an abstract theoretical contrivance that we use for logical convenience. The constructs we've invented for empirical purposes (state, object, content, identity) have fooled us into confusing them with real entities in the world, which don't ever have 'states' in the sense of an internal identity outside of change and time. In terms of the subjective MEANING of a state for us, our experience of the multiple features of a photo unfolds richly over the temporal span of milliseconds.
    There is no such thing as a simultaneously apprehended spatial multiplicity. Meaning is change, change is time and each feature is its own time, unless we want to pretend that an empty theoretical abstraction like 'instantaneous state' comes anywhere close to explaining how we meaningfully experience entities.

    Is a discrete conscious moment itself, which is rendered by the brain based on "continual" unconscious processing within the brain, not timeless? Once rendered, the content of such moment never changes but is only replaced some milliseconds later by another such moment.Bryon Ehlmann

    I think people have this notion that emotional significance comes as a discrete content, whose power is experienced as 'this' instantaneous state. If the emotional experience lasts for a while, we assume that all that has happened is that equally powerful instantaneous states have been strung together, and that the only purpose served by the temporal extension was to provide duration to the already powerful experience. But anything meaningful to us unfolds as a narrative, whether it is the way the spatial scene in a photo unfolds in milliseconds or a song or emotionally significant event develops its meaning for us over time. Meaning arises IN THE MIDST OF continuous change, not as something encoded in each individual frame. There has to be SOME meaning in each instant, but the effect of significant relevance comes from from the totality of unfolding moments, not in any individual one. Meaning is EMERGENT and CUMULATIVE, not immediate. The more richly and densely an experience unfolds in time, the more meaningful it will appear to us. Intensity is not instantaneous, it is temporal.

    When we listen to music, let's say the NEC freezes a single instant of our favorite song. That instant by itself is meaningless. If I extract a random note from a song, it obviously doesn't give me the song. That single moment doesn't even give me the relation between the note and the previous note, since that requires a comparison and recourse to memory, which implies change and time. It's true that in NEC there was a prior unfolding context that leads up to the last frame . But as soon as that last frame is frozen, it destroys flow and ongoingness.

    Now that I think about it, even if we are talking about freezing the most elemental and singular sort of presence, there would be necessarily not one but two frames involved. First would be your assumed 'last' state, which you are proposing as frozen for eternity outside of time. That last state, you agreed, would present itself as a change, a contrast over the preceding state ,and that would provide its meaning. But note that I'm arguing that the TOTALITY of the meaning of the allegedly last state is in the particular way that it emerges out of, stands apart from, what it unfolds out of. That last state is not a state yet. It is movement itself. We don't really know what a frozen state is, because no one has ever experienced it. Photos and video pauses don't count, since they don't present us with frozen experience, simply frozen mechanics, which is very different. Everything we experience or imagine is ongoing, in process of becoming while having been. Even our imagining of frozen states takes place as an ongoing becoming.

    But in your example, what instantiates and defines its very essence as a movement and a change(the last state, chock full of wonderful features and feelings) is frozen. That is an interruption of what it is. Because it is not a state until it is interrupted. We only artificially and abstractively talk about states as if they exist as discrete frames outside of the continuity of change and time, but you would be trying for the first time to have it be more than just an empty abstraction. In doing so, I would argue, your would have to add something onto that last 'state'.

    IF that last state in its meaningfulness(however little that stands for in itself) is first a change, then to become a static state it will have to change from ongoing to frozen. To become the last 'state', it will have to do something that experience has never done before, it will have to transition from mobile to static, and that is a (second) meaningful change. So it is two meaningful events, not one. The question then is, why would one not notice this second event? And what kind of event would it appear as? No living person has ever experienced your hypothesized frozen state, but all of us have experienced what it is like when our mobile involvement in the world changes from dynamic transformation to 'holding steady'.
    Changing from rapid acceleration to constant speed is a noticeable shift. Color perception involves rapidly oscillating changes in frequencies. If those frequencies become steady, the color will no longer be seen. A developing reality that stops developing will stop being interesting. But first it will appear noticeable, surprising , jarring , confusing, like someone suddenly turning out the lights(hey, who froze the world!). So I guess there would be three events. 1)the final 'state' of bliss, the last scene of game of thrones or whatever
    2)the surprising, jarring , noticeable freezing of this meaningful presencing into pure self-identicality.
    3)the transition from freeze to frozen, where surprise turns to boredom which turns into nothingness. That may actually be a pretty good description of the experience of dying
    for some people.

    So I think the issue is that you believe that meaningfulness in all its power is encoded in individual instants, as content that can be thought about separately from change, and therefore , one can imagine manipulating separately content from change, which is what your thought experiment is based on. The very fact that you don't think you're doing something ADDITIONAL
    and MEANINGFULLY NEW to an already meaningful experience by freezing it into a state shows your dualistic thinking about content and time.
    I , on the other hand, side with those philosophers and psychologists who believe that meaning is not static , instantaneous content, but transformation. We believe there is no such thing as content distinguishable from change. An experiencing is a change. Freezing that experience is a further change. The transit from freezing to frozen is yet a further change. The more temporally rich and developing the transformative unfolding, the more meaning we will perceive. Photos are great examples of dynamically changing developments. Stare at a great photo and it will dazzle you with the way its meaning changes for you from one moment to the next, and the ways that it spins out a narrative for you. Do something to interrupt that dynamism and you will kill meaning.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27
    You seem to have chosen to ignore much scientific research, which is referenced in my NEC article, that our consciousness is indeed divided into discrete conscious moments. Perhaps this is because you cannot grasp how this can be possible as evidenced by your example of listening to music. This seems to be the case despite the likelihood that you've had meaningful experiences that became part of your consciousness while watching movies via the rapid sequential display of discrete visual frames and while listening to dialog and music via the rapid sequential processing of discrete markings on a digital recording.

    Relatedly, you cannot seem to imagine how "freezing' an experience at a point in time, i.e., after a discrete conscious moment, can leave one perceiving that they are still in that experience. This is true despite the fact that I'm sure you've paused a movie without losing all of the experience up to that point including the emotions that were evoked. Ditto for your dreams that were "paused" (and ended) because you woke up.

    Finally, you fail to adequately answer the basic question I asked: "Assuming someone dies without ever awakening after having let's say a dream or NDE, precisely what will they perceive to make them aware that those last "features, contours, ...," present in their last conscious dream or NDE moment, are no more? Your seemingly off-the-cuff, hyper speculation that the final conscious moment would actually morph into three events in the "process" of being "frozen" is ridiculous. It again fails to accept the empirical evidence that a discrete conscious moment is a static (timeless) state that once produced will not change and requires no change. It also speculates that the final conscious moment somehow becomes multiple conscious, meaning perceived, moments so as to not make the final conscious moment really final. (Btw, "boredom" requires the passage of time, which for the dying person has ended.)

    I feel you're now really stretching it so as to cling to Hypothesis 1, which is referenced in my next comment below. For my part, I believe our dialog has concluded.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27
    See my post A Natural (vs. Supernatural) Eternal Consciousness and Afterlife, which is very relevant to this discussion. It defines Hypothesis 1 and 2, which are referred to in many of my comments.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    I use the word "theory" in my NEC article in its scientific sense. A scientific theory is an explanation of some natural phenomenon that is based on evidence that has been confirmed through observation and experiment. The theory itself must be able to be empirically verified or falsified.

    I claim the NEC theory can be so verified or falsified because unlike all other claims of some postmortem consciousness, the NEC actually occurs psychologically before death and nothing can occur within the psychological timeliness that follows, either just before death and after death, that can affect it. The NEC article discusses the theory's validity as a scientific theory is much detail.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    The theory itself must be able to be empirically verified or falsified.Bryon Ehlmann

    There, I fixed it for you. Science and the scientific method do not deal with verification, only falsification. Some people see that as one of its drawbacks. :chin:
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    The term "verified" is widely used in connection with scientific theories. To illustrate its wide usage, the first sentence given for the definition of "scientific theory" in Wikipedia reads:

    "A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified [my emphasis] in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results."

    "Verified" does not mean "proven once and for all." Rather, it means, as given in dictionary.com: "confirmed as to accuracy or truth by acceptable evidence, action, etc." The action here being testing. An acceptable test is performed and the theory is either verified or falsified by the test.
  • Joshs
    683
    For my part, I believe our dialog has concluded.Bryon Ehlmann

    For a former prof, you give up way too easy. I'd like to think our dialog has just gotten started.

    you fail to adequately answer the basic question I asked: "Assuming someone dies without ever awakening after having let's say a dream or NDE, precisely what will they perceive to make them aware that those last "features, contours, ...," present in their last conscious dream or NDE moment, are no more? Your seemingly off-the-cuff, hyper speculation that the final conscious moment would actually morph into three events in the "process" of being "frozen" is ridiculous. It again fails to accept the empirical evidence that a discrete conscious moment is a static (timeless) state that once produced will not change and requires no change.Bryon Ehlmann

    IF we were to agree for the sake of argument that 'a discrete conscious moment is a static (timeless) state that once produced will not change and requires no change", then my argument is , first of all, we do not know what percentage of people who are dying have near-death experiences, and of those who do, we cannot guarantee that this will be an experience where you will, as you put it " be overcome by marvelous feelings of wonder, love, and contentment. You truly believe that you have arrived and are experiencing heaven, and you’re excitedly anticipating the next moment and an eternity of joyful experiences." IF someone's last experience before dying is one of terror, dread and sadness , will this then haunt them for all eternity? You have been careful to keep your argument empirically oriented, but is there any spiritual thinking (Buddhism, perhaps) leading you to assume that last state would always be blissful?

    My other point is that even among those who have a blissful end-of-life experience, I see no reason to assume that would necessarily be their last experience. If I am looking at a beautiful painting on the wall and all the lights are suddenly turned off, and then for some reason I am knocked unconscious, when I wake up my last memory before being knocked out may very well be the lights having been turned off rather than the image of the beautiful painting. Why should we assume that a dying person's last state would be bliss rather than bliss turning into pain, fear, confusion or disorientation as their cognitive faculties degenerate further? Just because we have reports from people who recovered from near death states? Need i remind you that this is a select group? The very fact that they did not die tells us that their neural integrity never degenerated beyond a certain point. It would be instructive to study a range of people who were revived after their neurological condition had degenerated along a spectrum from mild to severe and see if we could correlate points along this spectrum with the quality-pleasantness of reported near death experiences (or whether they appeared at all). We only hear about the blissful reports, I'm guessing , becasue they are more in demand by readers and everyone is desperate to believe in a happy ending.

    I haven't even mentioned the enormous conceptual difficulties with your claim that a 'timeless' state
    "goes on forever “living in the moment."”. Since no one has ever experienced a 'timeless' state that 'goes on' , all you have to draw from in imagining what this would be like are real experiences we all go through IN TIME , of an enjoyment that endures a while. You want to remove words like persist and endure, yet you don't express any doubts or raise any questions about whethher an actual state 'out of time' can be justifiably compared to our familiar experiences of enduring, persisting enjoyments.

    A little empirical skepticism on your part may alleviate the impression of dogmatism.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    The term "verified" is widely used in connection with scientific theories. To illustrate its wide usage, the first sentence given for the definition of "scientific theory" in Wikipedia reads:

    "A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified [my emphasis] in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results."

    "Verified" does not mean "proven once and for all." Rather, it means, as given in dictionary.com: "confirmed as to accuracy or truth by acceptable evidence, action, etc." The action here being testing. An acceptable test is performed and the theory is either verified or falsified by the test.
    Bryon Ehlmann

    Think about it for a moment. To falsify a theory, you only have to show it doesn't work in one set of experimental circumstances. Easy. But to verify it, you have to test it under every possible combination of context/circumstances, and show that it works for all of them. Not just the ones you thought of, or the ones you had time to test, but all of them.

    To falsify the claim "there are no black swans", you only have to find one black swan. To verify it, you have to examine every swan that has ever lived - anywhere, anytime - and confirm that every one of them is non-black. You see? This is why science and the scientific method focus on falsification.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    True, you can view a scientific experiment as focusing on trying to falsify a theory, but if the results confirm the theory, the experiment can be said to have verified the theory.

    If no one has ever seen a black swan then "there are no black swans" can be legitimately called a scientific theory (though a very narrowly focused one), and every time someone sees a black swan the theory is verified.

    Hey, we've only talking about the appropriate use of a word here. I think we are in agreement on the substance, i.e., what is a scientific theory.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    I think we are in agreement on the substanceBryon Ehlmann

    No, I don't think we are. What you describe as verification is actually failure-to-falsify. Verification is an infinite act, as I described. You need to verify your theory in every possible circumstance. All ∞ of them. Which is why no sane scientist tries.

    "there are no black swans" can be legitimately called a scientific theoryBryon Ehlmann

    It can indeed, but we're talking about how that theory (or any other theory) is tested. According to the scientific method, it is tested by attempting to catch it out: to falsify it. We do this many times, of course, in many different ways. Just one 'successful' falsification falsifies the theory.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    If you read or studied my NEC Theory article more carefully, I believe you might understand why I have no interest in arguing with you on the issues you raise.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    Read the first few paragraphs of the article Einstein Was Right! Scientists Confirm General Relativity Works With Distant Galaxy and you should see how words like "confirm," "validate," and yes often "verify" (though not specifically here) are used in regard to the results of an experiment related to a theory.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    To verify something, we confirm it is true, literally. We don't increase our faith in its correctness, we confirm its correctness. Which, in scientific terms, in the real world, is impossible. This is not new to any scientist, nor is it a surprise. There seems little point in continuing this discussion.

    Bye! :smile:
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    See also Einstein's "Time Dilation" Prediction Verified. I'm only saying that I use the term "verify" consistent with its common scientific usage.
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Some deaths occur in conjunction with the neural net being knocked out: frozen to death; struck by lightning; & struck by electricity. With such afterlife experiences there is no winding down of consciousness.

    I don't know how to look people up here, I'm new, but I'll talk to you. I didn't understand everything you wrote but I'll try. I'm here for company as much as learning and trying to share my ideas with others. Feel free to "look me up" (notice me). I still don't know how to do the quote thing.
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Hi, read a little about time dilation. What are the implications for us here on earth?
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27
    That is a totally different subject than what is being discussed here.
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Thank you, but that doesn't make sense to a person like me, I'm bipolar.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.3k
    I'm only saying that I use the term "verify" consistent with its common scientific usage.Bryon Ehlmann

    You're using it consistently with common everyday usage. In a discussion of scientific method, "verify" is the complement of "falsify". [The latter as in Popper.]
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27
    ???? I'm still not sure we disagree.

    My final word on this: True, a scientific theory can never be proven, only falsified. However, in the scientific literature the term "verify" is often used in the context of a test, experiment, or study. In this context, it is understood that the reader recognizes that "verify" means only "verified in this case," not "verified once and for all."
  • Joshs
    683
    If you read or studied my NEC Theory article more carefully, I believe you might understand why I have no interest in arguing with you on the issues you raise.Bryon Ehlmann

    I read your article after I posted my last comment and saw that you discussed.negative near death experiences and brain deterioration. So let's talk about a different aspect of your thesis. You wrap your claims up in science, but that is misleading. The science with regard to human experiences is multi-faceted; one particular focus has to do with describing and measuring the dynamics of neural processes(what has been dubbed the sub-personal level). Other approaches deal with cognitive-affective and perceptual levels of functioning. But while there may be superficial agreement on facts at the discrete molecular and neural levels, as soon as we shift to complex levels of mental functioning, disagreements multiply. How does a neural net function? Should it be modeled as a computational system, a distributed parallel, dynamic, a connectionist architecture, or via a non-representational enactivist description? The differences in these approaches are key to assumptions concerning what consciousness might be.

    Robert Lanza, who you reference in your article, treats the basis of consciousness as energy, which he explains, can never be eliminated, only transformed. Thus, "At death, you change reference points. It‘s still you, but you experience different lives, different friends and even different worlds. Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling—the ‘Who am I?’- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain. But this energy doesn’t go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?"

    You also mention Hameroff, who, following physicist Roger Penrose, believes that consciousness can be understood as a sub-neural quantum process(they call it Orch-OR). Their notion of an afterlife apparently shares with Lanza the presumption of an active energic process. Critics have pointed out the major problem with such theories is that they aren't compatible with the current models in physics.

    "Believing in life after death, to put it mildly, requires physics beyond the Standard Model. Most importantly, we need some way for that “new physics” to interact with the atoms that we do have."

    Your approach overlaps these researchers in some ways but departs from them in others.
    Like them, you draw form older information processing models of consciousness, using the computer as a metaphor for how thought functions. This first generation approach to cognition has been abandoned by researchers in cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience in favor of embodied, enactive approves which, following Gibson, don't understand the mind as simply receiving 'information' , as data, from an external world and then computationally manipulating it.Rather, they see perceptual processes as interpretative from top to bottom,.They see meaning as more of an activity, performance, exchange, than as static content, 'data', 'information'.

    You also mention Bruce Greyson, Emily Williams Kelly, and Edward F. Kelly, who have embraced Frederic W. H. Myers' psychical, spiritualist ideas of consciousness. Myers doesn't seem particularly compatible with what you are claiming. The active, changeable character of his post-physicalist subjectivity contrasts sharply with your static , frozen picture .

    When we speak about states of consciousness we are referring to subjective ways that the world is like for us . Objective third person empirical approaches cannot 'prove' what goes on at a subjective level. They cannot tell us what it is like to be a bat. They can only produce models of functioning of neural components and attempt to correlate these processes with subjective reports of states of consciousness.The problem boils down to the fact that doing something like measuring metabolic activity in a portion of the brain during a subjective state is not the same thing as elucidating the nature of that subjective state. Quantum science and neurological measurement are not the right approaches to deal with the arena of subjectivity and consciousness as it is lived by persons. The most promising avenues toward integrating empirical psychological science and subjectivity are the recent interdisciplinary areas of philosophical phenomenology and cognitive science(the journal phenomenology and the cognitive sciences is a leading resource), The work by Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and others correlating neuroscience, phenomenology, cognitive science and mindfulness practices is another promising avenue.

    In sum, the problem with claiming to have 'proven' a particular theory of consciousness is that the very nature of subjectivity touches upon the conditions of possibility of empiricism. In other words, subjectivity and objectivity are reciprocally dependent on each other when it comes to studying consciousness. Thus, any claim about the nature of subjective experience is both an empirical and a philosophical claim. Your idea of a subjective state as potentially freezable , out of time and absent of material conditions(except for the initial material condition of the dying state) implies a philosophical position which differs not only from those of philosophers and psychologists I follow, but also Hameroff, Penrose and Lanza, who point to persisting real and changing energic fields as substrate of beyond-death subjectivity, and Myers, whose romantic spiritualism is an animated force.

    I imagine if I were to suggest to you that your model requires a physics that doesn't exist yet, or a spiritualist transcendentalism that you have yet to elaborate, you might point to the 'empirical evidence' in favor of your theory. But I would be willing to lay down big money that if you submitted your article to Hameroff, Penrose or Lanza, they would likely make the same argument as I would. Of the large list of references in your paper, none of them directly support , much less speak to, your central claim of a timeless, static, yet meaningful ongoing state of awareness. Rather than couching it in empiricist terms, it would be more interesting, and others would pay more attention, if you fleshed out the philosophical presuppositions grounding it and contrasted them with those of competing approaches.
  • Joshs
    683
    Some deaths occur in conjunction with the neural net being knocked out: frozen to death; struck by lightning; & struck by electricity. With such afterlife experiences there is no winding down of consciousness.Daniel Cox
    What does winding down mean? Look at it this way. When someone is in what Ehlmann calls a blissful end of life experience, you can be sure that state will involve lots of complex neural activity. Why is this? We know what the brain's activity is like during rem sleep. It is very active, especially in the frontal cortex, where emotion and cognition are centered. During non-rem sleep the brain is much less active, even though the person is healthy and not near death. So near death 'bliss' must look neurologically somewhat like a dream state. What we also know about dreams is that a person is much more likely to remember their dreams if they are woken in the midst of one, rather than during non-rem sleep.

    This is because once the level of brain activity drops below a certain threshold, forgetting takes place. Recall of a context requires the ongoing maintenance of that context , or else the reconstruction of it. I'm guessing that near death experiences of bliss or whatever are like rem sleep. They are remembered because the relative level of brain activity they require is maintained up till the point that they are revived. Studies have shown that "when the heart stops, neurons in the brain appeared to communicate at an even higher level than normal, perhaps setting off the last picture show, packed with special effects."

    A dying person's neurological activity will at some point drop below the threshold necessary to recall an experience like 'meaningful bliss'. It doesn't matter whether the brain winds down to this threshold or reaches it all at once. Forgetting will take place. Think about a person getting electroshock treatment. This causes an immediate degradation of brain activity rather than a winding down, and amnesia is a side effect of it. So it should be irrelevant from the perspective of memory and recall how rapidly one transitions from 'meaningful bliss' to brain death. It is absolutely certain that the last states of neural activity one will experience will not be complex bliss but disorientation, confusion, incoherence or something less organized. If you're going to argue, as Ehlmann has, that each frame of consciousness carries its own discrete meaning, then it is contradictory to arbitrarily choose the blissful frame as the last one that will be remembered when we know it will not be the last state of mind for a dying person.

    The only way one could justify such a claim is if one made a distinction between the blissful state and what follows it in terms of its qualification as conscious. One would have to abandon an emergent , relativist notion of what consciousness is(global, distributed patterns of neural activity), and substitute a dualist, platonic notion where consciousness is an all or nothing phenomenon residing in certain states but not others. Then one would have to cherry pick a speculator subjective state associated with near death experieince and crown that the 'real' last state of consciousness for everyone.
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Hi,

    Do you know what psychoneural identity theory is? You can look up the definition, but it's been explained to me that brain states are identically mental states. People who hold to this theory claim that the brain and mind are not logically distinct. Not distinct in any way, not even in abstraction.

    For me, what I've experienced every waking moment of my life and some when I'm sleeping, is my noetic subsystem of mind being evaluative & supervisory.

    Haven't caught up on my research in regard to being knocked out, but it's happened to me at least two times. I come back into my consciousness not remembering a thing during the time I was "blacked out" because I was blacked out.

    Every instance of a person arguing against the reality of life after death experience, the 12 stages as outlined by nderf.org, Jeffrey Long & his book, the arguments entail that the brain was still active, the person wasn't actually dead, and that the phenomena can be attributed to "consciousness winding down." Asphyxia.

    It's your position emotion is there (in the brain), but the definition of mind is "the seat/facility of the emotions/affections & will, and is regarded to survive the death of the body.

    There's a book available from the site above called "Mind Sight." There are two books with the same title, one of them is all about people born blind and deaf who first see and hear after they die.

    This is my main field of study and experience. I'm a minister (servant - Cox). I prefer that to Reverend. So, I'm pleased as pie to talk to you about this until I go to heaven.

    I have a hundred good arguments (proofs) against emergent materialism. One is that a mental state can be dispositional.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27


    How does a neural net function? Should it be modeled as a computational system, a distributed parallel, dynamic, a connectionist architecture, or via a non-representational enactivist description? The differences in these approaches are key to assumptions concerning what consciousness might be.Joshs

    These questions are not relevant to the NEC theory. That is, it does not matter how the neural net functions to form the final conscious moment, how this network should be modeled, or what consciousness as represented by this moment might be.

    I've read Robert Lanza's books on Biocentrism and my thinking much aligns with his on the critical role of consciousness in understanding the nature of our universe, but I thought his discussions of death in these books were ambiguous and inadequate and wrote him concerning this. He asks the question "But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?," but he never answers it or explains the how. Perhaps when oxygen and nutrition are no longer consumed and blood flow ceases to supply energy to the brain, the "‘Who am I?’ ... 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain" may just dissipate as leftover heat into the environment as the body turns cold. So is there really any energy left? I believe the NEC theory is more explainable than is his and actually more consistent with Biocentrism with its emphasis on perception, i.e., that our universe is that which we perceive. Besides, the NEC requires no energy at death or beyond for sustainability!

    Also, unlike the theories of Hameroff and Roger Penrose, the NEC theory is compatible with "the current models in physics." It requires no "new physics." Moreover, while I draw upon modeling techniques used in computer science to model states of mind, events, and moments in order to explain the theory, I do not believe I assume "older information processing models of consciousness" or use "the computer as a metaphor for how thought functions." The theory's basis is the concept of discrete conscious moments, one present moment at a time. The underlying type of processing required to produce these moments is not material to the theory.

    I reference works of Bruce Greyson, Emily Williams Kelly, and Edward F. Kelly to support some of my characterizations of NDEs.. Just because one references another article to support a statement does not mean they subscribe to all of the claims or positions taken by that article or those of its authors.

    You are right in that my theory is novel. Indeed, it does not conform to the positions of Hameroff, Penrose, Lanza, and I imagine most philosophers. Nor need it conform. In terms of subjectivity, a final conscious moment, and so an NEC, can range from dull to extremely intense and from an all encompassing thought of dying at any moment to a sensually gratifying and pleasurable "awareness" of spending an eternity in heaven. The precise "nature of subjective experience" is not specified by the theory and thus need not be determined via any empirical testing designed to test the theory. The "idea of a subjective state as potentially freezable, out of time and absent of material conditions" is not so radical. It simply boils down to never being aware that your final conscious moment was indeed final. I'm very tempted here to state "Duh!" :-)

    You state "But I would be willing to lay down big money that if you submitted your article to Hameroff, Penrose or Lanza, they would likely make the same argument as I would." First, what is your specific argument when stripped of much that I've pointed out is irrelevant to the NEC theory? Second, so what? The three you mentioned have their own theories about an afterlife that I too could argue against. And besides, unlike theirs, my theory makes no claims about anything materially surviving after death, i.e., energy, and thus is compatible with current models of physics.

    Finally, I believe my article has already "fleshed out the philosophical presuppositions grounding it." The following presuppositions are much discussed.
    - the perception of time as relative to an ordered sequence of events
    - a consciousness that occurs only in discrete conscious moments, one present moment at a time
    - the inability to perceive the transition from a time-perceiving state into a timeless state.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27


    You state: "It is absolutely certain that the last states of neural activity one will experience will not be complex bliss but disorientation, confusion, incoherence or something less organized."

    Oh really, "absolutely certain"? Can you give some references for this? Some research that backs up such certainty? From the numerous reports by NDE survivors, which are well documented in books and articles, I don't believe you will find recounted such experiences of "disorientation, confusion, incoherence or something less organized" at the end of their NDEs. When I wake up from dreams, I don't recall such experiences. Do you?

    You also state: "If you're going to argue, as Ehlmann has, that each frame of consciousness carries its own discrete meaning, then it is contradictory to arbitrarily choose the blissful frame as the last one that will be remembered when we know it will not be the last state of mind for a dying person."

    Again, "we know"? Really? There may be more states of mind for a dying person after the last final conscious moment but they're likely at a subconscious level and result in the production of no new discrete conscious moment. Such production likely requires assimilating subconscious results and rendering them at a higher level of consciousness.

    And once again, don't forget that with the NEC words like "recall" and "remembered" are not applicable. The NEC is timeless. The last conscious moment happens at a point in time, it becomes part of one's consciousness at that point, and nothing--i.e., no new awareness--happens to undo it. Forgetting takes time and besides there is no reason to "recall" the final moment because by definition its recall can never become a new present, discrete conscious moment.

    I believe you are having trouble keeping the timeless nature of the NEC in mind as you continue to speculate and strain in order to somehow turn the final conscious moment into something the will inform the dying person that they are dying, perhaps in order to destroy any perception of eternal bliss that they may have. :-)
  • Joshs
    683
    From the numerous reports by NDE survivors, which are well documented in books and articles, I don't believe you will find recounted such experiences of "disorientation, confusion, incoherence or something less organized" at the end of their NDEs. When I wake up from dreams, I don't recall such experiences. Do you?Bryon Ehlmann

    NDE survivors didn't die, did they? So their brain activity never deteriorated below a certain threshold. Dead people's brains activity, by definition, deteriorated below a certain threshold. We tend to remember having dreamt only when woken up during rem sleep.
    As you know, there are other states of sleep, and not all of them are 'unconscious'.
    We can be woken from a certain stage of non-rem sleep and feel profoundly disoriented.

    There may be more states of mind for a dying person after the last final conscious moment but they're likely at a subconscious level and result in the production of no new discrete conscious moment.Bryon Ehlmann

    You must know that there are an enormous variety of levels and degrees of consciousness. the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness far from all or nothing.It's not a light switch but a spectrum and near death awareness is at the more active end of the spectrum. What you are doing is choosing a particularly alert state of consciousness in near death experience and making that the sole definition of consciousness.
    Forgetting takes time and besides there is no reason to "recall" the final moment because by definition its recall can never become a new present, discrete conscious moment.Bryon Ehlmann
    Forgetting takes no more time that the transition from state 1 to state 2 if state 2 involves a deteioration of brain function with respect to state 1. And since one will not be recalling the prior more aware state, one is stuck, according to your terms , with whatever deteriorated state happens to be the present one, and it makes no difference wherever that transition from aware bliss to groggy incoherence happens in a milisecond or 10 hours.
  • Bryon Ehlmann
    27

    So you believe that when brain function deteriorates near-death below the threshold allowing for the NDE, the brain will somehow still manage to produce a discrete conscious moment that will inform us of our death? Okay, I'll let you hang your hat on that belief, but remember deteriorated states of which you speak, i.e. a state 2, must be perceived.

    This will be my last reply. I believe you're taken the discussion down to a level of brain activity that has never been perceived by the living and thus one that can only be speculated about in future discussions.
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