Life After Death: Revisited

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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BigQuestioner
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Life After Death: Revisited

Post by BigQuestioner » Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:42 pm

I am resurrecting a Dec 2002/Jan 2003 article, Life After Death by Steve Stewart-Williams (Philosophy Now, Issue 39), for some reanalysis in light of a new kind of afterlife. The article presents an argument FOR and AGAINST life after death, which I claim is now outdated because it does not take into account our natural afterlife. But how could it? After all, this non-supernatural afterlife hadn’t yet been discovered at the time the article was published.

The natural afterlife is one in which, using the article’s classification, “survival takes place outside the body … as a disembodied mind.” The afterlife is uniquely timeless and, admittedly, survival is illusory; however, from the perspective of the dying person it is not timeless, only eternal, and the experience it provides is very real. The brief treatise given below gives an inkling into its psychological basis and the referenced article formally defines it and argues for its reality.

If one understands the natural afterlife, one should see that regarding it “The Dependence of Mind on Brain” argument in “The Case Against Survival” that is given in the Life After Death article is not applicable in that 1) the final moment, i.e., the snapshot, of the experience that forms it is created before death by a still functioning brain and 2) because the afterlife is timeless, the experience need not be sustained by a brain even though it will be perceptually in the mind of a dying person forever. Why? Because the dying person is never made aware that the experience is over.
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An Overview of the Psychological Basis for the Natural Eternal Consciousness

From basic psychology, two opposing hypotheses can be deduced for what we will experience upon death. The first is based on the definitions of mind and consciousness like those given in many introductory psychology textbooks. The second delves just a bit deeper and is based on human experience and established cognitive principles in time and conscious perception.

Hypothesis 1: Quoting from a © 2014 psychology textbook by Zimbardo: “The mind is the product of the brain,” consciousness is “the brain process that creates our mental representation of the world and our current thoughts” and “as a process … is dynamic and continual rather than static.” Therefore, when the brain dies, the mind as its product and consciousness as a brain process must totally cease to exist and we will “experience” a before-life kind of nothingness.

Hypothesis 2: We perceive time as a sequence of events evolving one discrete conscious moment at a time. Outside of these present moments, e.g., dreamless sleep, we perceive of nothing. Before death a still functioning brain produces one last present moment of a perceived event within some experience, perhaps a dream, and then is forever incapable of producing another one that would cognitively supplant the last one from our consciousness. Therefore, we never perceive, and thus are never aware, that our last experience is over, and so a remnant of consciousness, an experience paused in a moment at a point in time, will become imperceptibly timeless, i.e., static, and deceptively eternal relative to our perspective. (Here experience is not in quotes as it is indeed experienced before death.)

Hypothesis 1, despite lacking empirical verification, has been accepted as orthodoxy by many. It can only be verified after death, which is impossible. In contrast, Hypothesis 2 has hitherto been overlooked, likely because of the orthodoxies of 1 and religion and the difficulty for the living to view death strictly from the dying person's frame of reference, i.e., only that which is perceived by the dying. Moreover, 2 can be verified before death and is so to some degree with each everyday human encounter with timelessness, e.g., dreamless sleep, each being perceptively like death. Especially relevant are those encounters after which we awaken instantly startled when our first conscious moment is inconsistent with our last—e.g., when waking up after having an intense dream. One need only ask: “Suppose I had never woke up?”

For much more detail on hypothesis 2, read The Theory of a Natural Eternal Consciousness: The Psychological Basis for a Natural Afterlife.

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