Interesting paper on survival.

#3
Interesting to read about soul concepts being taken seriously again.

In the paper he cites a lack of continued interest in parapsychology because precursory memory research makes the idea of a soul carrying memories with it untenable, yet only an infinitesimal percent of parapsychology research has anything to do with survival. Is this because there is a correlation between a memory-free soul and psi or the author was only interested in the survival branches?
 
#4
It seems to me a far more plausible and realistic notion of survival to be frank. Essentially, if consciousness is fundamental, which seems to be what the author is postulating, and is becoming more popular, then survival isn't up for question. Only personality survival is.
 
Last edited:
#5
This is what esotericists have been saying exactly that about the soul for a long time. They claim that in addition to the physical body, we also have an astral (emotional) body and mental body, which exist in their own overlapping dimensions. At death, they claim consciousness continues to function through these "bodies" which accounts for the dimension experienced by NDE'ers. At some point, prior to a new incarnation, the death of these bodies occur and is referred to as the "second death." They also distinguish between psychic phenomena relating to astral perceptions (the majority) and mental perceptions (rarer but more accurate), as well as perceptions directly from the soul called intuition.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#6
This is what esotericists have been saying exactly that about the soul for a long time. They claim that in addition to the physical body, we also have an astral (emotional) body and mental body, which exist in their own overlapping dimensions. At death, they claim consciousness continues to function through these "bodies" which accounts for the dimension experienced by NDE'ers. At some point, prior to a new incarnation, the death of these bodies occur and is referred to as the "second death." They also distinguish between psychic phenomena relating to astral perceptions (the majority) and mental perceptions (rarer but more accurate), as well as perceptions directly from the soul called intuition.

Cheers,
Bill
It does seem science is catching up to Eastern Ideas in some regards
 
#7
The most convincing cases include those in which accurate information is seemingly communicated by the deceased that is later corroborated by detailed investigation, such as the existence of a second will stuck between the pages of the family bible or statements made by young children describing events in previous lives. If psi exists, then these seemingly accurate messages from the dead could reflect the operation of psi processes among the living, rather than actions taken by the surviving personalities of the dead.
However, the author ignores the reasons for considering that most likely is that some cases are not mere psi between living but psi between living and deceased. For example:

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com.es/2009/05/further-record-of-observations-of.html

Modern neuroscience has amassed a vast body of evidence showing the intimate dependence of mental processes on brain processes. A brain tumor at the right site may turn a chaste Buddhist monk into a drunken raincoat-opening exhibitionist. Alzheimer’s disease can rob you of most of your memories. Surely, the death of the entire brain would result in a radical change in the nature and content of one’s conscious experience. For this reason, I no longer believe that the personality, defined as the collection of one’s thoughts, memories, feelings, beliefs, emotions, and sensations, or any nontrivial portion thereof, could survive the death of one’s body (setting aside for the moment several science fictional scenarios discussed below).
But neuroscience only shows that brain states affect personality, not that that is existential dependence and personality can not exist after brain death. In fact psychic research indicates that the dependence between the brain and personality is only instrumental.

This view leads naturally to panpsychism, the view that consciousness pervades the universe.
No evidence of panpsychism. That's just something that seems very deep but it does not say anything.

As we have seen, through replacement of atoms, the body we inhabit today is a totally different body from that of a decade age and the spheres of consciousness that inhabit it (including ourselves) are likely themselves different as well. There is no Person in the sense of a continuing aggregation of matter or a continuing self. The Person is likely to be, as Blackmore and Dennett insist, a story we tell ourselves. However, it is a very useful story, just like the story of my car or my kitchen table. It helps credit card companies to obtain payments for purchases we made the preceding month and guides our interactions with former classmates at a high school reunion. But in an absolute sense, the Person is only a cognitive construct, a very vivid hallucination. Our souls could be eternal, but “we” (the People) have only a momentary time in the sun and may only be cognitive constructs, much like the ever-changing body of water that is now called the Mississippi River.
I can not understand the concept of the soul of the author. In my opinion the empirical evidence that there is something like a soul would be veridical experiences out of the body, the apparitions of the living and the deceased, especially the reciprocal apparitions, mediumship and reborn cases.
 
#10
I don't recommend buying his book then ;)
Yeah, I mean, why not try having a stab at the reasons behind sensory modality ratio's of experiences? It seems a bit more interesting to me. This example table is taken from "The Departed Among the Living" by Erlendur Haraldsson....

Why visual at 67%, followed by Auditory at 28%, Tactual at 13%, Olfactory at 5%, why in this descending order, and why no taste... lol :)

 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Interesting to read about soul concepts being taken seriously again.

In the paper he cites a lack of continued interest in parapsychology because precursory memory research makes the idea of a soul carrying memories with it untenable, yet only an infinitesimal percent of parapsychology research has anything to do with survival. Is this because there is a correlation between a memory-free soul and psi or the author was only interested in the survival branches?

Braude has a paper challenging the idea of materialist notions of memory
, where he specifically challenges the notions of trace:

In fact, let’s overlook for now complications to all physiological cognitive theories posed by the evidence for postmortem survival and restrict our attention to embodied humans. In those cases, clearly, the capacity to remember is causally dependent, not simply on having a functioning brain, but probably also on changes to specific areas of the brain. However, it’s one thing to say that the brain mediates the capacity to remember, and another to say it stores memories. The former view (more likely the correct one) takes the brain to be an instrument involved in the expression of memory; the latter view turns out to be deeply unintelligible. For a very limited analogy, we can say that while a functionally intact instrument may be causally necessary for performing a musical improvisation, the music is not stored in the instrument (or anywhere else).
...Or maybe the signature was illegible (most are), or perhaps the only photo available was of the person 25 years earlier (e.g., when he still had hair, or when he had a beard, wore eyeglasses, and was photographed outdoors, out of focus and in a thick fog), or when he was dressed in a Halloween costume or some other disguise.

But now it looks like I need to remember in order to remember. A tennis ball isn’t specific enough to establish the required link to the person who left it. It’s not the sort of unambiguous representational calling card the situation requires. So we supposed that something else might make the tennis ball a more specific link — a signature or a photo.

That is, we tried to employ a secondary memory mechanism (trace) so that I could remember what the original trace (the tennis ball) was a trace of. But the signature and photo are equally inadequate. They too can’t be linked unambiguously to a specific individual. Of course, if I could simply remember who wrote the signature or left behind the photo, then it’s not clear why I even needed the original tennis balls. If no memory mechanism is needed to make the connection from tennis ball to party guest, or illegible signature to its author, then we’ve conceded that remembering can occur without corresponding traces, and then no trace was needed in the first place to explain how I remember who attended my party. So in order to avoid that fatal concession, it looks like yet another memory mechanism will be required for me to remember who left behind (say) the illegible or phony signature, or the fuzzy photo. And off we go on a regress of memory processes. It seems that no matter what my party guests leave behind, nothing can be linked only to the guest who left it. We’ll always need something else, some other
mechanism, for making the connection between the thing left behind and the individual who left it.

In fact, it seems that the only way to stop the regress is for a guest to leave behind something that is intrinsically and exclusively linked only to one individual.

That is why Wolfgang Köhler, for example, proposed that traces must be isomorphic with the things of which they’re traces — that is, the things they represent (e.g., Köhler, 1947, 1969). But what Köhler and others have failed to grasp is that this kind of intrinsic connection is impossible, because nothing can function in one and only one way. As I’ll argue shortly, this is especially clear when the function in question is one of representation or meaning. Nothing can represent unambiguously (or represent one and only one thing); representing is not something objects can do all by themselves; and representation can’t be an intrinsic or inherent relation between the thing represented and the thing that represents it.

Interestingly, although Köhler failed to see why trace theory is doomed to fail, he was remarkably clear about what trace theory requires..
 
#13
One problem with philosophical arguments like this is that they can, apparently at least, collide with empirical experimental findings, such as http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22098266 , where as part of the experiment the researchers evoked specific memories by stimulating certain specific brain locations. It looked very much as if traces of the experiences had been recorded as synaptic structural patterns, in those particular brain locations. Of course there could be other interpretations, but this seems to me to be the simplest most direct one. Also, this of course doesn't address the even greater mystery of what is the nature of the consciousness that is experiencing the memories.

An unexplained phenomenon in neuroscience is the discovery that electrical stimulation in temporal neocortex can cause neurosurgical patients to spontaneously experience memory retrieval. Here we provide the first detailed examination of the neural basis of stimulation-induced memory retrieval by probing brain activity in a patient who reliably recalled memories of his high school (HS) after stimulation at a site in his left temporal lobe. After stimulation, this patient performed a customized memory task in which he was prompted to retrieve information from HS and non-HS topics. At the one site where stimulation evoked HS memories, remembering HS information caused a distinctive pattern of neural activity compared with retrieving non-HS information. Together, these findings suggest that the patient had a cluster of neurons in his temporal lobe that help represent the "high school-ness" of the current cognitive state. We believe that stimulation here evoked HS memories because it altered local neural activity in a way that partially mimicked the normal brain state for HS memories. More broadly, our findings suggest that brain stimulation can evoke memories by recreating neural patterns from normal cognition.

This reminds me of Wilder Penfield's experiments where through electrical stimulation he also evoked specific memories that seemed to be linked to particular points on the brain. It is true that these sort of experimental findings can be reconciled with the filter/transmission hypothesis, and Penfield himself was not a mind = brain materialist. But it seems to me the strong appearance of the presence and operation of physical memory traces is compelling, and troubling if one tries to maintain full belief in the transmission/filter hypothesis. If the memories are really being stored in an extracorporeal form, why would individual unique localized structures in the brain be formed that evoke specific memories correlated with those structures? Wouldn't a more generalized transceiver mechanism be more efficient, rather than devoting thousands or millions of neurons and synapses to each particular memory?
 
Last edited:
C

chuck.drake

#14
One problem with philosophical arguments like this is that they can, apparently at least, collide with empirical experimental findings, such as http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22098266 , where as part of the experiment the researchers evoked specific memories by stimulating certain specific brain locations. It looked very much as if traces of the experiences had been recorded as synaptic structural patterns, in those particular brain locations. Of course there could be other interpretations, but this seems to me to be the simplest most direct one. Also, this of course doesn't address the even greater mystery of what is the nature of the consciousness that is experiencing the memories.

An unexplained phenomenon in neuroscience is the discovery that electrical stimulation in temporal neocortex can cause neurosurgical patients to spontaneously experience memory retrieval. Here we provide the first detailed examination of the neural basis of stimulation-induced memory retrieval by probing brain activity in a patient who reliably recalled memories of his high school (HS) after stimulation at a site in his left temporal lobe. After stimulation, this patient performed a customized memory task in which he was prompted to retrieve information from HS and non-HS topics. At the one site where stimulation evoked HS memories, remembering HS information caused a distinctive pattern of neural activity compared with retrieving non-HS information. Together, these findings suggest that the patient had a cluster of neurons in his temporal lobe that help represent the "high school-ness" of the current cognitive state. We believe that stimulation here evoked HS memories because it altered local neural activity in a way that partially mimicked the normal brain state for HS memories. More broadly, our findings suggest that brain stimulation can evoke memories by recreating neural patterns from normal cognition.

This reminds me of Wilder Penfield's experiments where through electrical stimulation he also evoked specific memories that seemed to be linked to particular points on the brain. It is true that these sort of experimental findings can be reconciled with the filter/transmission hypothesis, and Penfield himself was not a mind = brain materialist. But it seems to me the strong appearance of the presence and operation of physical memory traces is compelling, and troubling if one tries to maintain full belief in the transmission/filter hypothesis. If the memories are really being stored in an extracorporeal form, why would individual unique localized structures in the brain be formed that evoke specific memories correlated with those structures? Wouldn't a more generalized transceiver mechanism be more efficient, rather than devoting thousands or millions of neurons and synapses to each particular memory?
This idea echoes a recent link from MaxB about a study where they stimulated an area of the brain that had lit up in relation to a specific location for the test subject. The test subject then hallucinated about that specific area upon being stimulated. Interestingly, when they stimulated an area of the brain associated with the pizza parlor of the test subject's parents, the test subject hallucinated that the people conducting the experiment were wearing aprons and things as if they were dressed to work in the pizza restaurant. Really intriguing stuff.
 
#15
These sorts of rambling papers do nothing for me... they just end up saying absolutely nothing in my view.
Yeah...I didn't read the paper, but I've read blogs and articles by the author wherein he says "we are the movie screen, not the movie." I have no idea how that's supposed to translate into anything useful; so far as I know, no movie screen has ever suffered under the delusion that it was the movie.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#16
I'm not seeing the issue with the transmitter/receiver concept and the stimulation of the brain producing certain memories. I'd be curious how this compares to Pribram's ideas about a holographic/holonomic brain, where information is encoding across the area of the brain. He noted that removing a part of the brain doesn't necessarily remove a memory.

All that said, I know I have to go through Braude's paper again as I feel like he was addressing this very idea of memory storage. Of course no philosophical paper is going to be a slam dunk, nor should it be.
 
#17
Damn: I posted a long quote from Bernardo Kastrup's new book (Why Materialism is Baloney) believing the quote was included in the free Kindle sampler, but on checking against the full book, I see it wasn't: so I've had to delete the quote because it wouldn't be fair use.

Stoke says:

One advantage of the panpsychist view
is that it does not need to explain how
consciousness arose from insentient matter,
which is perhaps the most vexing,
fundamental and seemingly unsolvable
problem confronting modern science and
philosophy. Consciousness was here from the
start. It is angels all the way down.​

Bernardo has something to say about panspsychism, which he believes to be a modern version of animism: everything, even elementary particles, possess a degree of consciousness. It's something that even some hard-core sceptics can give some credence to. But how come that an assemblage of myriad individual conscious particles generates the impression of one high-level consciousness? When we die, presumably that high-level consciousness disappears. Nonetheless, when someone is born, some novel high-level consciousness appears due to some other complex association of myriads of particles.

This doesn't actually explain how the impression of high-level consciousness arises. Somehow, even though there are supposedly countless individual conscious entities even in a single cell, in certain configurations (insert a bit of handwaving here), they may generate that impression. And, they do so for as long as the organism is alive, despite the fact that during that life, the actual particles themselves are constantly being replaced: every few years, in fact (maybe more than once), in any sufficiently long-lived organism.

The elephant in the room is that there must be some pattern according to which assemblages are constructed: especially since the individual elements of the assemblage are interchangeable--one calcium or carbon atom in the array is as good as another. Whence came the pattern? With panpsychism, patterns have to be generated by specific arrays of material particles. The array creates the pattern, but without a preexisting pattern, the array can't exist, so it's a circular argument.

Evolution is the posited answer: over time, arrays could grow more complex and pass on in a "cultural" way their pattern from generation to generation, with gradual additional complexification. But where's the survival advantage in complexification? The most successful organisms, judged by number and biomass, are simple bacteria: by growing more complex, organisms become less successful, and over time, most of them have become extinct.

This implies that there's some kind of utility in complexity that isn't to do with mere survival. And if that's the case, then the whole basis of neo-Darwinism is undermined. Species don't evolve because doing so makes them fitter for survival: in fact, evolving makes them less fit to survive. But what evolution (in the sense of increasing complexity over time, which I don't believe neo-Darwinism explains) does do is reflect a growing degree of sentience.

This is why I think that the result of evolution is an increase in sentience rather than increased fitness for survival. The image of something that has very low sentience looks like an amoeba: and of something that has very high sentience, like a human being. But that isn't saying that elementary particles possess consciousness, any more than brains do. All things we think of as physical could be considered as simply how processes appear to us in consciousness; as I intimated (and an idea I credit to Bernardo), they are images of processes in consciousness. That's right: human beings and all organisms (and come to that, elementary particles) are processes, not things. This is even reflected in the concept of continual replacement and rearrangement of particles in organisms, which even materialists accept.

The problem, of course, is dualism of various sorts. There are purportedly two realms, the one material, and the other, consciousness. As soon as one thinks that way, one has to explain how the one relates to the other: usually, how one might create the other (explanations can go either way), when in the usual conception of the two, they have separate and distinct characteristics. That's what creates all the arguments and confusions.

In Bernardo's version of Idealism, everything is consciousness, in which processes (might as well call them thoughts, I suppose) occur. Some of these processes appear to us as images that we think of as material. Its opposite, materialistic monism, asserts that everything is matter and that consciousness is created by it (as long as it's admitted that the latter's not totally illusory, that is): and the hard problem is precisely how and why as a result we experience qualia. I don't believe panpsychism is an adequate explanation. In my view, nothing that we think of as material has the least consciousness (including the brain), though it is the image of a process occurring in consciousness.

I appreciate that some won't accept this, and that's their prerogative, of course, but for me it's the most parsimonious explanation of reality that I've come across, and also the most intellectually satisfying. It also sits comfortably with psi, morality and spirituality.
 
#18
Damn: I posted a long quote from Bernardo Kastrup's new book (Why Materialism is Baloney) believing the quote was included in the free Kindle sampler, but on checking against the full book, I see it wasn't: so I've had to delete the quote because it wouldn't be fair use.
I'll take the risk. Which part did you want to quote? I'll paste it here. If my publisher gets angry he can contact me. :)
 
#20
I'll take the risk. Which part did you want to quote? I'll paste it here. If my publisher gets angry he can contact me. :)
That's very kind of you, Bernardo, but I'm a fan of fair use. Authors put in time and effort and deserve recompense. If a sampler is supplied, I'm happy to make an extensive quote from that since it's already available to anyone interested enough to download it. That said, if you have anything ex tempore to say, particularly with regard to panpsychism, I'm all ears! :)
 
Top