Mod+ Immaterialism & the Afterlife

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#1
Mod+ as this thread is not meant to debate whether materialist explanations can account for consciousness, NDEs, mediumship, etc.

Conversation between me and David from another thread:

Actually I'm not sure that they are glimpses of the hereafter even though I'd agree with you that CSICOP and JREF are materialist/pseudoskeptical cults or have cultists of that sort in their membership.

It seems at least possible materialism can be false but NDErs can also [unconsciously] make up at least some of the details? Or that the experience of the NDE is not indicative of an actual afterlife?

I mean we have historical records of NDEs specifically promoting a particular religion or even just a branch of a religion. That suggests cultural influence can cause distortions...or at least to me it does?
I am a bit surprised you say that! In one sense all of science is tentative (probably a lot more so than most of its practitioners imagine), and has to bind the available evidence into some sort of hypothesis - there never is any absolute proof of anything.

So materialists assume death marks the final end of consciousness because they assume consciousness is produced purely by the brain, which stops working and then decays. Therefore anything that seems to show that consciousness continues in any form at all - even hallucinatory - threatens the theory that consciousness originates in the brain, and therefore in turn the theory that consciousness ends at death.

There seems no point in trashing a theory (materialism) and then taking one of the consequences of that theory as a reasonable hypothesis - seemingly for no particular reason. It would be like introducing an arbitrary hypothesis that the afterlife is mainly about extending mathematics - you can't prove this is false, but it doesn't seem to fit with what we do know - so why run with it?

David
Caveat to everything that follows is my intuition that there is an afterlife ->

But one can reject materialism and still not believe in post-mortem survival? The neuroscientist Raymond Tallis is an immaterialist, doesn't think memories are stored in the brain, but is an atheist who doesn't think there's an afterlife (though he remains open to the possibility).

I think there are a variety of panpsychists who also don't believe in an afterlife?

I also think we need to separate two things NDEs can tell us - whether mind is dependent on brain and whether they give us a definitive picture of what an afterlife is like.
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All that said I agree once someone accepts materialism as false definitively asserting there is no afterlife seems foolhardy.
Well that word 'atheist' is incredibly vague - I mean is someone an atheist if they think an afterlife is likely, but don't know how it is organised?

Even though I have flirted with the idea, my feeling is that panpsychism is an ill-thought out position, because those who profess it never really say how the consciousness of a stone (say) manifests itself or combines with other stones etc. It seems to have become a refuge for those who realise consciousness is an enigma but who want to shift their position by the absolutely minimum amount! There is also the problem that fundamental particles are QM-identical, so what is the minimum amount of matter that can be proto-conscious?

Regarding what NDE's tell us, unless you assume that NDE's are simply created to fool people, you more or less have to assume that when the real thing happens (death) the process starts the same way (at least for a proportion of people). After all the difference between someone who is dying from cardiac arrest, and one that will be resuscitated must be infinitesimally slight for some people. If consciousness seems to extend into a new realm, it seems perverse to suggest that it then switches off - but OK, you seem to concede that!

David
Hey David, this probably requires another thread to go into so I'll be brief.

I think there are panpsychic systems that could work, some might even accommodate a certain kind of afterlife.

On whether people are being fooled...maybe. Or maybe different people simply go to different afterlives. But that could be a whole other thread.

So this is that other thread. :)

 
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#2
Where does Raymond Tallis believe that memories are stored, and if not in the brain, why can't they can exist independent of it?

Also, I am sure that at least some of the more recent accounts are fraudulent and were made up when praticular groups noticed that they could use NDEs to their advantage. That doesn't take anything away from the field, it is just an observation about human nature.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
Where does Raymond Tallis believe that memories are stored, and if not in the brain, why can't they can exist independent of it?

Also, I am sure that at least some of the more recent accounts are fraudulent and were made up when praticular groups noticed that they could use NDEs to their advantage. That doesn't take anything away from the field, it is just an observation about human nature.
I think he believes Time works differently than most would expect. He has a book about time coming out, I believe later this year.

I didn't mean they made up the details consciously, sorry will edit that.
 
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#4
Where does Raymond Tallis believe that memories are stored, and if not in the brain, why can't they can exist independent of it?
That question is intrinsically pretty physicalist - because it seems to assume that physical reality is all that exists. I used to more or less believe that, and I don't any more for the simple reason that physicalism itself does not explain why we experience anything (the Hard Problem).
Also, I am sure that at least some of the more recent accounts are fraudulent and were made up when praticular groups noticed that they could use NDEs to their advantage. That doesn't take anything away from the field, it is just an observation about human nature.
Once we get particular cults using NDE's as part of their propaganda, that may well be true, but I think the NDE phenomenon is sufficiently widespread that we don't need to worry about this. Remember that something rather like this may have happened at the seed of Christianity and other religions - a spiritual phenomenon being used to justify a cult movement that progressively ossified into a dogma.

David
 
#5
I think he believes Time works differently than most would expect. He has a book about time coming out, I believe later this year.
Raymond Tallis isn't super easy to read, but that sounds like an interesting read! Do you know it's title?

A 'convert' like him is often interesting, because they have bust a gut to stay within conventional thinking, and given up in despair - a bit like me, but a few legs higher up the ladder!

David
 
#6
That question is intrinsically pretty physicalist - because it seems to assume that physical reality is all that exists. I used to more or less believe that, and I don't any more for the simple reason that physicalism itself does not explain why we experience anything (the Hard Problem).
The question is not meant to reflect my own posture on memory, I have discussed that before when discussing a case where memories where being formed, but not assessed in an amnesiac patient. It is nothing more than a query on Raymond's idea.

Once we get particular cults using NDE's as part of their propaganda, that may well be true, but I think the NDE phenomenon is sufficiently widespread that we don't need to worry about this. Remember that something rather like this may have happened at the seed of Christianity and other religions - a spiritual phenomenon being used to justify a cult movement that progressively ossified into a dogma.

David
The fundamental characteristics have been established in accounts too ancient to be manipulated by modern society, but it is only an observation. However, there is no denying that masses are gullible.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
Raymond Tallis isn't super easy to read, but that sounds like an interesting read! Do you know it's title?

A 'convert' like him is often interesting, because they have bust a gut to stay within conventional thinking, and given up in despair - a bit like me, but a few legs higher up the ladder!

David
Working title is apparently Of Time & Lamentation.

Apparently it's out this summer. He'll have some stuff on Bergson, whose thoughts on phenomenal time seem to be getting more exposure.
 
#9
I'm an immaterialist and believe in an afterlife in the sense that I believe we have an uninterrupted experience after bodily death. I'm just not sure what it means to be me afterwards. Identity is a fuzzy thing.
 
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