The soul and the afterlife

Is the mind the same as the body? What is consciousness? Can machines have it?

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Graeme M
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Graeme M » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:43 pm

Yes you are right Leo, it is Greylorn's. I didn't go back to reread before I posted. I did detect a certain flavour to Greylorn's comments so Beon theory does not seem inconsistent with that flavor.

Gingko, I know that the idea of soul as consciousness as 'workings of the brain' is the scientific view (perhaps even with leading philosophers as well?) but I was more wondering what the average Joe (or visitor to Philosophy forums) might mean when they say soul. There are many who talk about a soul or a survival after death or whatever, and I suppose I more am asking what they actually think they mean. I wondered if there was a sort of generally agreed 'common' sense of the idea. When I think of 'me', my idea of that depends on context. In an intangible sense I think that it is just my little voice.

Me as a physical being is obvious enough but no-one is proposing that the body survives death or has some separate existence, so clearly people are thinking of some immaterial aspect of the being. What would that be? If it's not the little voice, then you aren't really aware of anything else, so it seemed to me that people proposing a soul must imagine that their voice appears somewhere else.

Or are they thinking of it as those more ephemeral qualities such as feelings, personality, interests. Do they think memories,so physically embedded in our brains, go too?

It's just that when I think of the idea of a soul I am not clear what people mean. Is it just that they do not question their own assumptions and hence assume that everything they experience sans the physical body is represented in the soul?

Obvious Leo
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Obvious Leo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:59 pm

Graeme M wrote: It's just that when I think of the idea of a soul I am not clear what people mean.
I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it, Graeme, because neither do they. The notion of the soul is rooted in the theology of Aquinas but it was more formally developed by Descartes into the dualist philosophy which is commonly associated with it. The central idea of dualism is that the body and mind are two distinctly separate entities although how this can be so remains unclear. Your image of the little man sitting inside your head conducting the neural orchestra is a very good approximation to the Cartesian soul and this wee bloke bullshit is often referred to as the "homunculus fallacy".

None of this medieval nonsense stands up to the scrutiny of modern science, in particular the modern tools of cognitive neuroscience. Nowadays almost no scientist operating in the field of human consciousness would suggest other than that the so-called mind/body problem is a myth. Your SELF is ALL of you, right down to the tiniest freckle on your arse.

Ginkgo
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Ginkgo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:06 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Graeme M wrote: It's just that when I think of the idea of a soul I am not clear what people mean.
I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it, Graeme, because neither do they. The notion of the soul is rooted in the theology of Aquinas but it was more formally developed by Descartes into the dualist philosophy which is commonly associated with it. The central idea of dualism is that the body and mind are two distinctly separate entities although how this can be so remains unclear. Your image of the little man sitting inside your head conducting the neural orchestra is a very good approximation to the Cartesian soul and this wee bloke bullshit is often referred to as the "homunculus fallacy".

None of this medieval nonsense stands up to the scrutiny of modern science, in particular the modern tools of cognitive neuroscience. Nowadays almost no scientist operating in the field of human consciousness would suggest other than that the so-called mind/body problem is a myth. Your SELF is ALL of you, right down to the tiniest freckle on your arse.

Good summary Leo.

Graeme M
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Graeme M » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:21 pm

Interestingly enough though the question of just what consciousness is appears to attract considerable research. I completely agree about the logical absurdity of a soul, but this theme appears so often on philosophy forums that I wanted to gather a sense of what is actually being discussed. I suspect there is no generally accepted idea, it's just some vague (or even not-so-vague) desire to live beyond death. Or to be special. I tend to the view that far too many people imagine human beings to occupy a privileged position in nature...

Obvious Leo
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Obvious Leo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:27 pm

Thank you, Gingko. As a process philosopher I've never had to grapple with such myths as souls, qualia and the like and I often have trouble grasping what I'm supposed to understand by such terms. To me consciousness is simply a dynamic event and when the music stops playing the show's over. Maybe I lack imagination but I can't even understand why anybody would even WANT a bloody afterlife let alone how they could possibly kid themselves that such a thing exists. Imagine an eternity with Bob Evenson and HexHammer as your room-mates??? Where's my fucking hemlock?

Obvious Leo
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Obvious Leo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:32 pm

Unfortunately you're right, Graeme. The soul is often a featured topic of discussion in philosophy forums but it bloody well shouldn't be. It belongs only in religious forums because the notion of a soul is a BELIEF and beliefs by their very definition lie beyond the reach of scientific or philosophical enquiry.

Greylorn Ell
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Greylorn Ell » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:45 am

Graeme M wrote:I've just joined this forum and am only a recent visitor to such forums. I am not a philosopher - simply someone with an interest in matters of consciousness and mind. This particular thread is one of similar threads I've seen on other forums but I haven't yet quite got a handle on what everyone means by 'soul'.

The OP suggests a 'theory' for how consciousness survives death and I must say on an initial reading, even though I don't understand what a microtubule might be, I don't get any sense that the idea has any merit whatsoever.

I enjoyed Greylorn and O. Leo's contributions especially. Original Leo, I think we've talked before somewhere? You are Australian too? Thanks for the hint re Beon theory. I've had a quick look and will read some more. More for the insight and ideas I think as again the theory itself doesn't resonate.

But to go back to the OP. What exactly does anyone mean by the soul or the consciousness? I suppose I should start a separate thread but I guess that's been done to death. Do people just mean the sense of themselves they get from talking in their own head?
G.M.,
The definition of soul is a function of where you're getting it from. For classical Buddhism it is an epiphenomenon generated by the brain that takes on an existence of its own after the brain's demise. Christians and Muslims have a confused understanding of it; for them it seems to be something that comes along for the ride in this life but somehow manages to maintain consciousness and effect a version of post-death embodiment. For these religions, soul is a created entity.

Then there are the new-agers and other screwballs who imagine that souls are what God split himself into when he got bored.

Beon Theory does not employ the word soul, thus avoiding confusion with lots of silly concepts. Those who do not understand Beon Theory, usually the effect of not bothering to study it (e.g. O. Leo), typically imagine that beon and soul are the same thing. The differences are significant. Beon is a non-created entity, as physical as a church fart, and not even necessarily conscious. Beons are inherently extremely ignorant and stupid. Only some learning experiences can change that. Some, probably not all beons retain a modicum of attenuated consciousness post-death, but only for a brief time.

Ideas "resonate" with someone when he's learned them before. Previous embodiments count in the learning process. Since Beon Theory is unique among descriptions of consciousness, you'll not have learned of it before. It won't "resonate" for you or anyone. However, it can make sense to anyone who studies it, especially if the student pays attention to the theory's effectiveness at explaining things inaccessible to conventional beliefs.

However, because B.T. is entirely different from anything else, it is only accessible to thoughtful, open minds. They represent at most 3% of any population. It is not accessible to Mensans, for example, because like most folks who post on philosophy or physics forums, they already know everything. Unless you have proven yourself capable of divergent thought, and really want to give the consciousness phenomenon a serious investigation, I'd not recommend it.

Greylorn

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Necromancer
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Necromancer » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:54 am

Eh... let's use some jargon, please.

The view from Christians and Muslims relates to Substance Dualism. Please see "Philosophy of Mind", 2nd ed. (2006) by Jaegwon Kim, Chapter 2.

3rd ed. here: http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Mind-J ... 0813344581.
This link has the actual TOC: https://westviewpress.com/books/philosophy-of-mind/.

:)
Last edited by Necromancer on Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

Graeme M
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Re: The soul and the afterlife

Post by Graeme M » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:35 am

Thank you Necromancer, that looks like an interesting book, I shall look into buying it to go with "The Conscious Brain" recommended on another thread. I am also going to enrol in short course on introductory philosophy covering the "big" questions at my local university. As I said earlier it seems to me that no-one has a particularly clear definition of soul or consciousness with much depending on context, personal beliefs and experience. But that there is at least an academic definition is apparent, even though in itself that seems a bit tough to pin down (for example the Stanford U's definition of 'consciousness' leaves me pretty breathless!

Greylorn, I am definitely not a Mensan, more likely a Dummyan, so I am unlikely to approach BT from quite that perspective. However I am at heart a materialist, so anything that proposes some kind of 'thing' generated by organic chemistry is unlikely to resonate as I said. But I'll definitely make the effort to consider the claims.

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