• Jack Cummins
    3k
    The question of what happens at death can be approached from different angles, ranging from the scientific to the religious. I would imagine that most people have wondered about it at some stage, because we will all face death eventually.

    One relevant area for consideration is the accounts described in near death experiences.
    Are they related to the oxygen deprivation which occurs or possible chemical causes? The bardo states described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead describe journeys beyond death. Do the dreaming states in this book and similar ones point to the dreaming states which occur in the process of dying. Even if one takes a complete materialist perspective it is not known how long it takes for the brain and dreaming states to exist.

    Some people believe in immortality and others see death as the end. These are speculations, and I am an agnostic on that matter. But I am curious about what the experience of dreaming consciousness will be after death, even if it is an end. I think it will be of significance in some sense to our identity.

    So, I am interested in other people's thoughts on the question of what becomes of consciousness at death?

  • Rafaella Leon
    59
    One time we will wake up. However, it is not our body that wakes up, as it remains in the place where everyone else is. But who then wakes up? It is us, our soul. So, in that first moment, we will not even notice that we have passed away, as it will be as if we had woken up, like every day, after a good night’s sleep. However, we will start to notice some strange things, like talking and people not listening to us. Then, it may be that we remember someone who is not present with us in the place where we wake up, and suddenly that person will appear to us. When that happens, we’ll say, “Wow! What happened? How bizarre! What is this?”. After a while, this starts to cause us a certain fear and despair, because soon after we will realize: “Wow, look at me lying there, pale and stinking. It is my body that is there!”. In that moment we will be really desperate. At the height of this despair, we will pass out.

    When we wake up from this fainting, we will no longer be seeing anything from this world or the place we are in, we will not be listening to anyone else, we will move but we will not be able to see our hand, we will try to grab our chest and we will not feel it in any way. In short, we will be in total and complete darkness, and some processes will begin.

    When we are dead, and if we are in the situation we are describing, we will not even know if the things that can satisfy our desires still exist, because all we will see is a black, a darkness. It will be as if we are now with our eyes closed, however, we will feel that our eyes are open.
  • philosopher004
    77
    So, I am interested in other people's thoughts on the question of what becomes of consciousness at death?Jack Cummins

    I think we are 'non-conscious' after our death. I call it 'non-consciousness' because their is no meaning to consciousness in the realm of non-consciousness. It is different from unconsciousness because when we say somebody is unconscious we imply that their is a possibility of consciousness in this realm.
  • Marchesk
    4.3k
    It jumps to the next parallel universe where you survive. P-zombies (deniers of qualia) don't get to take advantage. They stay and rot in their original universe.
  • khaled
    2.9k
    I think there is no point in speculating. Will get back to you after I'm dead if I can.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k


    I hope that you get back to me if you die before me. I hope that I can manage to log into the site if I am up to it.Despite wondering if I would have been happier if I had been taller and better looking, I am still wondering if I will cope, or will struggle with missing my body if I survive beyond physical death.
  • tim wood
    7.1k
    Like a sugar cube in tea, it dissolves, and rather quickly. The trick, it seems to me, lies in not minding too much the dissolution. After all, one may ask what there isn't, after, and be hard pressed to answer. Consciousness? And what exactly is that when it's not at home?
  • Outlander
    1.1k
    Can't be conscious without a brain. That's why someone in a vegetative state is often declared 'clinically brain dead', as in there is no evidence of substantial brain activity detectable. Their body is alive, but they're not "there" so to speak. Yet there are cases of folks recovering from such a state. I don't seem to recall if they "remember" anything or not and even so it could be simply from the process of losing brain activity/regaining it and your "mind", "consciousness", "spirit" or whatever meshing back with the stimuli your brain and body experienced/"recorded" while you were "gone". That's just a theory of course I'm sure there's more information available, but probably not a whole lot.

    Edit: apparently being in a coma/similar state of abnormality is not being 'clinically brain dead', the former just means you can't respond to stimuli or communicate and that there is nominal brain activity. The latter is true brain death (no detectable activity whatsoever) at which point the person is considered legally dead. No one has ever "came back" or recovered after true brain death they say.
  • tim wood
    7.1k
    if I had been taller and better looking,Jack Cummins

    You are exactly the right height for something - perhaps racing motorcycles. And one of the most beautiful women I ever saw was by no means at all pretty. You decide what you are. Sounds like you need to make some better decisions - and there's nothing that soap, haircut and shave, and decent clothes can't make attractive, even very attractive.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k


    I like your writing and would like to believe that what you are saying is true. I do believe in the importance of waking up, whether in another life or this one.

    I am not sure about the idea that a life beyond this one would entail blackness. I have known too many black hole states and some strange dimensions. If my consciousness does survive death I hope to encounter colours and beyond the spectrum and multidimensory experiences in the oceanic depths, unchartered by the most of the living peoples.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Yes, sometimes it is hard to pay attention to the body as a being of consciousness in the material world. I have to admit that I sometimes become disheveled and forget to shave when I am busy wrangling with philosophical questions. But perhaps we might as well just grow long ,
    scraggly beards and moustaches because we don't have full faces any longer, now that we wear masks in all social situations.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    You say that we are not conscious after death. I am unsure if you are meaning to say that we cease to exist at all. It may seem obvious that we do not exist at all if not conscious but I make no ultimate presumptions. When I was a teenager I came across a Christian writer, J Phillips, suggesting that we exist as memories in God's mind after death. This was the first time in which I experienced the idea that life, as we know it, may end after earthly experiences and I was downhearted.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Your discussion of being brain dead is interesting. Although, of course, this is the perspective of those who declare the person to be brain dead.

    Can we exist without a brain. I am inclined to think we need one, but I am a bit open minded in consider other possibilities.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Perhaps you could tell me more about parallel universes as a possibility beyond the mortality of the physical body.
  • Athena
    1.4k
    ↪Jack Cummins Like a sugar cube in tea, it dissolves, and rather quickly. The trick, it seems to me, lies in not minding too much the dissolution. After all, one may ask what there isn't, after, and be hard pressed to answer. Consciousness? And what exactly is that when it's not at home?tim wood

    That sounds reasonable to me and that would make us with one with the universe minus our egos that keep us separate.
  • Daemon
    217
    Ever been knocked out or had a general anaesthetic? Our conscious experiences are due to our brains. If they are aren't working, no conscious experience. So enjoy life now because when it's over it's over.
  • Athena
    1.4k
    Perhaps you could tell me more about parallel universes as a possibility beyond the mortality of the physical body.Jack Cummins

    This would possibly require a notion of neutrinos holding a record of our existence because it seems to assume there is an "I' that can be aware. If there is an "I" there must be matter that contains the "I".
  • tim wood
    7.1k
    one with the universe minus our egos that keep us separate.Athena
    I have made this a permanent addition, refinement, to the idea.
    And this. To boldly go where no ego has ever gone before, or can go, even to the centers of stars!
  • Jack Cummins
    3k
    ] I am glad that you are joining into the debate. I am inclined to think that the dissolution of the ego is central to the discussion but I do not think that this rules out the possibility of higher transcendental experiences. They may not last forever, but they may be of some significance, in considering our limited human identities in the vast scheme of possibilities, beyond the death of the individual ego.
  • Athena
    1.4k
    To be or not to be?

    I am amused by the religious notion of god and love as this also goes with wanting to maintain the separation of ego, rather them being one with god.

    I am totally undecided about the afterlife thing. I watched shows done by men who claim to communicate with those who have crossed over. I think what these men did is very convincing about there being life after death and that we retain our egos and relationships. But I would not bet my life on our egos surviving our deaths. I have also experienced what appeared to be communications from those who have crossed over, adding to my belief that it is possible. I think statement is the most reasonable. We do not have enough information to believe this or that.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Yes, I am undecided about the whole possibility of life after death, but think about it a lot. It is such a difficult question, but I think it one worthy for the philosophers forum, and perhaps more importantly than mathematical puzzles, but not necessarily easier.
  • MondoR
    224
    I suspect death is much like sleep. No time Just fleeting images. And say some point, we wake up, still with some memories of the past.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    You suggest that at some point we wake up. This is not an established, so perhaps you could expand your point of view in a bit further detail.
  • MondoR
    224
    You suggest that at some point we wake up. This is not an established, so perhaps you could expand your point of view in a bit further detail.Jack Cummins

    My suspicion is that life is cyclical, and the microcosmic resembles the macrocosmic. We sleep, dream, and wake up, consciousness being a continuum of memory. The bigger sleep, death and birth, will be similar. What science calls genetics, would be a continuum of memory from previous life/death cycles. Basically, I believe the Universe is symmetrical in all respects. Clues to the macro can be found in observing the micro. This is what Daoists do. Interestingly, Hamlet's soliloquy alludes to this idea. I think that if we pass on with good memories, we will enjoy a nice deep sleep. The concept of Karma adopts a similar point of view.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Are you saying that life and death are given to us within cycles of learning? I keep an open mind to this possibility, but with an awareness that there is a lack scientific credibility to back up this view,
    although it may be the case that scientists cannot grasp and put such a perspective under a microscope or within the structure of experiment. In other words, I would love to believe thhat you are suggesting is true, but there is a danger in accepting the possibility because it appeals to many of us.
  • Daemon
    217
    Reincarnation and eternal life are just wishful thinking, and the religions that exploit such beliefs are con tricks.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    I think that what you are saying is true on some level but even the fabric of thinking underlying science is tenuous. However,I am sure that the scientific thinkers on this site claim to have the last and final say upon truth, as the religious believers had the ultimate words, many centuries ago.
  • MondoR
    224
    Are you saying that life and death are given to us within cycles of learning? I keep an open mind to this possibility, but with an awareness that there is a lack scientific credibility to back up this view,
    although it may be the case that scientists cannot grasp and put such a perspective under a microscope or within the structure of experiment. In other words, I would love to believe thhat you are suggesting is true, but there is a danger in accepting the possibility because it appeals to many of us.
    Jack Cummins

    Yes, Life and Death are cycles of learning, and give meaning and understanding to life.

    Science is limited to what it can measure. That which it cannot measure it simply assigns human traits, e.g. genes, cells, etc.

    There is no reason not to believe in the timelines of memory (brain waves?) and every reason to embrace it. Meaning in life is precious.
  • Pop
    784
    The thread really needs a definition of consciousness.

    In my understanding, consciousness = an evolving process of self organization, and everything in the universe belongs to a process of self organization. So when you die, your component parts are appropriated to something else's self organization. That this should result in a worse experience then the present is entirely an assumption, in my opinion.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k

    Yes, I see what you mean about a definition of consciousness. For the purposes of my present discussion the understanding of consciousness which I will adopt is: a meaningful sense of knowiedge, based primarily but not exclusively, on personal experience.
  • Jack Cummins
    3k
    When I read your post I focused upon my need to define my understanding of consciousness.

    However, looking at it again, you say that
    'when you die, your component parts are appropriated to something else's self organisation.' I wonder what this would mean: cosmic recycling?
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