Fuck you, death.

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Bill Wiltrack
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Fuck you, death.

Post by Bill Wiltrack »

.






.....................................................
Image


........................................if you look at the girl's lips I think she is saying, Fuck you, death.




Whether you look at religion, certain enlightened modern philosophers or the cutting edge of science they all point to the same conclusion - We never experience death.


The GIF above is almost a perfect metaphor for what is actually happening to us.






.
Ginkgo
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Ginkgo »

What science might that be?
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hammock
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by hammock »

Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death; by Jesse Bering; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN; Wednesday, October 22, 2008

<...snip... > As philosopher and Center for Naturalism founder Thomas W. Clark wrote in a 1994 article for the Humanist:

Here … is the view at issue: When we die, what’s next is nothing; death is an abyss, a black hole, the end of experience; it is eternal nothingness, the permanent extinction of being. And here, in a nutshell, is the error contained in that view: It is to reify nothingness-make it a positive condition or quality (for example, of “blackness”)-and then to place the individual in it after death, so that we somehow fall into nothingness, to remain there eternally.

Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died-and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: “When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there’s an obstacle!”

This observation may not sound like a major revelation to you, but I bet you’ve never considered what it actually means, which is that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective. This obstacle is why writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe allegedly remarked that “everyone carries the proof of his own immortality within himself.”

Even when we want to believe that our minds end at death, it is a real struggle to think in this way. A study I published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture in 2002 reveals the illusion of immortality operating in full swing in the minds of undergraduate students who were asked a series of questions about the psychological faculties of a dead man.

Richard, I told the students, had been killed instantaneously when his vehicle plunged into a utility pole. After the participants read a narrative about Richard’s state of mind just prior to the accident, I queried them as to whether the man, now that he was dead, retained the capacity to experience mental states. “Is Richard still thinking about his wife?” I asked them. “Can he still taste the flavor of the breath mint he ate just before he died? Does he want to be alive?”

You can imagine the looks I got, because apparently not many people pause to consider whether souls have taste buds, become randy or get headaches. Yet most gave answers indicative of “psychological continuity reasoning,” in which they envisioned Richard’s mind to continue functioning despite his death. This finding came as no surprise given that, on a separate scale, most respondents classified themselves as having a belief in some form of an afterlife.

What was surprising, however, was that many participants who had identified themselves as having “extinctivist” beliefs (they had ticked off the box that read: “What we think of as the ‘soul,’ or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies”) occasionally gave psychological-continuity responses, too. Thirty-two percent of the extinctivists’ answers betrayed their hidden reasoning that emotions and desires survive death; another 36 percent of their responses suggested the extinctivists reasoned this way for mental states related to knowledge (such as remembering, believing or knowing). One particularly vehement extinctivist thought the whole line of questioning silly and seemed to regard me as a numbskull for even asking. But just as well-he proceeded to point out that of course Richard knows he is dead, because there’s no afterlife and Richard sees that now.

So why is it so hard to conceptualize inexistence anyway? Part of my own account, which I call the “simulation constraint hypothesis,” is that in attempting to imagine what it’s like to be dead we appeal to our own background of conscious experiences-because that’s how we approach most thought experiments. Death isn’t “like” anything we’ve ever experienced, however. Because we have never consciously been without consciousness, even our best simulations of true nothingness just aren’t good enough.

For us extinctivists, it’s kind of like staring into a hallway of mirrors-but rather than confronting a visual trick, we’re dealing with cognitive reverberations of subjective experience. In Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno’s 1913 existential screed, The Tragic Sense of Life, one can almost see the author tearing out his hair contemplating this very fact. “Try to fill your consciousness with the representation of no-consciousness,” he writes, “and you will see the impossibility of it. The effort to comprehend it causes the most tormenting dizziness.”

Wait, you say, isn’t Unamuno forgetting something? We certainly do have experience with nothingness. Every night, in fact, when we’re in dreamless sleep. But you’d be mistaken in this assumption. Clark puts it this way (emphasis mine): “We may occasionally have the impression of having experienced or ‘undergone’ a period of unconsciousness, but, of course, this is impossible. The ‘nothingness’ of unconsciousness cannot be an experienced actuality.”
<...snip...>
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Arising_uk
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Arising_uk »

Bill Wiltrack wrote:........................................if you look at the girl's lips I think she is saying, Fuck you, death.
Look again.
Whether you look at religion, certain enlightened modern philosophers or the cutting edge of science they all point to the same conclusion - We never experience death.
True, we experience dying and having died we are unable to experience anything.
The GIF above is almost a perfect metaphor for what is actually happening to us..
Is it, how so?
Last edited by Arising_uk on Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
uwot
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by uwot »

hammock wrote:What was surprising, however, was that many participants who had identified themselves as having “extinctivist” beliefs (they had ticked off the box that read: “What we think of as the ‘soul,’ or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies”) occasionally gave psychological-continuity responses, too.

This really isn't my field, but from all that you have said, I would have been surprised if they hadn't. 32% is a significant figure, I grant you, but is it not fairly well understood that people will seek to please, and give answers that at least show they take the question seriously? What sort of percentage have the discipline to treat every one of a series of, to them, meaningless questions with equal indifference?
I tried to look up your paper, but everything at brill.com was saying hundreds of dollars. So I've opted for ill informed blatherings instead.
As it happens, I'm doing a soirée on death in a few weeks time. I may well ask what people think it would feel like to be dead.
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Ginkgo »

hammock wrote:Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death; by Jesse Bering; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN; Wednesday, October 22, 2008

<...snip... > As philosopher and Center for Naturalism founder Thomas W. Clark wrote in a 1994 article for the Humanist:

Here … is the view at issue: When we die, what’s next is nothing; death is an abyss, a black hole, the end of experience; it is eternal nothingness, the permanent extinction of being. And here, in a nutshell, is the error contained in that view: It is to reify nothingness-make it a positive condition or quality (for example, of “blackness”)-and then to place the individual in it after death, so that we somehow fall into nothingness, to remain there eternally.

Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died. You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died-and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: “When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there’s an obstacle!”

This observation may not sound like a major revelation to you, but I bet you’ve never considered what it actually means, which is that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective. This obstacle is why writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe allegedly remarked that “everyone carries the proof of his own immortality within himself.”

Even when we want to believe that our minds end at death, it is a real struggle to think in this way. A study I published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture in 2002 reveals the illusion of immortality operating in full swing in the minds of undergraduate students who were asked a series of questions about the psychological faculties of a dead man.

Richard, I told the students, had been killed instantaneously when his vehicle plunged into a utility pole. After the participants read a narrative about Richard’s state of mind just prior to the accident, I queried them as to whether the man, now that he was dead, retained the capacity to experience mental states. “Is Richard still thinking about his wife?” I asked them. “Can he still taste the flavor of the breath mint he ate just before he died? Does he want to be alive?”

You can imagine the looks I got, because apparently not many people pause to consider whether souls have taste buds, become randy or get headaches. Yet most gave answers indicative of “psychological continuity reasoning,” in which they envisioned Richard’s mind to continue functioning despite his death. This finding came as no surprise given that, on a separate scale, most respondents classified themselves as having a belief in some form of an afterlife.

What was surprising, however, was that many participants who had identified themselves as having “extinctivist” beliefs (they had ticked off the box that read: “What we think of as the ‘soul,’ or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies”) occasionally gave psychological-continuity responses, too. Thirty-two percent of the extinctivists’ answers betrayed their hidden reasoning that emotions and desires survive death; another 36 percent of their responses suggested the extinctivists reasoned this way for mental states related to knowledge (such as remembering, believing or knowing). One particularly vehement extinctivist thought the whole line of questioning silly and seemed to regard me as a numbskull for even asking. But just as well-he proceeded to point out that of course Richard knows he is dead, because there’s no afterlife and Richard sees that now.

So why is it so hard to conceptualize inexistence anyway? Part of my own account, which I call the “simulation constraint hypothesis,” is that in attempting to imagine what it’s like to be dead we appeal to our own background of conscious experiences-because that’s how we approach most thought experiments. Death isn’t “like” anything we’ve ever experienced, however. Because we have never consciously been without consciousness, even our best simulations of true nothingness just aren’t good enough.

For us extinctivists, it’s kind of like staring into a hallway of mirrors-but rather than confronting a visual trick, we’re dealing with cognitive reverberations of subjective experience. In Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno’s 1913 existential screed, The Tragic Sense of Life, one can almost see the author tearing out his hair contemplating this very fact. “Try to fill your consciousness with the representation of no-consciousness,” he writes, “and you will see the impossibility of it. The effort to comprehend it causes the most tormenting dizziness.”

Wait, you say, isn’t Unamuno forgetting something? We certainly do have experience with nothingness. Every night, in fact, when we’re in dreamless sleep. But you’d be mistaken in this assumption. Clark puts it this way (emphasis mine): “We may occasionally have the impression of having experienced or ‘undergone’ a period of unconsciousness, but, of course, this is impossible. The ‘nothingness’ of unconsciousness cannot be an experienced actuality.”
<...snip...>

I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science. This doesn't mean that science shouldn't or doesn't address death. I think Arising nailed the scientific aspect when he said, "We experience dying and having died we are unable to experience."

In order to experience something after death there would need to be an enduring self. As far as science is concerned there is no enduring self. This doesn't mean science is right, it just means that when we apply the scientific methodology to consciousness there is no-self. Neuroscientists and philosophers talk about the self as being illusory.
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hammock
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by hammock »

Ginkgo wrote:[..2..] I think Arising nailed the scientific aspect when he said, "We experience dying and having died we are unable to experience." In order to experience something after death there would need to be an enduring self. As far as science is concerned there is no enduring self. This doesn't mean science is right, it just means that when we apply the scientific methodology to consciousness there is no-self. Neuroscientists and philosophers talk about the self as being illusory. [..1..] I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science.

Apparently you didn't read it very closely, since what you expressed in [..2..] as "the scientific aspect" was the gist of that clip. Bering: "Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died-and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce."

His addressing of this closet-belief among or a poor reasoning on the part of some extinctivists that eternal oblivion is literal was simply to distribute the idiocy around to both sides (the other being the majority belief in afterlife, transmigration, etc). Offering these common views as a background for introducing his own research explorations / hypothesis which "holds that our ancestors suffered the unshakable illusion that their minds were immortal, and it’s this hiccup of gross irrationality that we have unmistakably inherited from them. Individual human beings, by virtue of their evolved cognitive architecture, had trouble conceptualizing their own psychological inexistence from the start" [rest of the applicable quote at bottom].

But Bering's own professional projects or personal pursuits weren't the point. In the course of such he just happens to echo that this is the very conclusion that would likewise have to fall-out of what's currently setting on the table of science: "...that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective".
Jesse Bering wrote:...In fact, the only real mystery is why we’re so convinced that when it comes to where we’re going “when the whole thing’s done,” we’re dealing with a mystery at all. After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does-it’s more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death. My psychological research has led me to believe that these irrational beliefs, rather than resulting from religion or serving to protect us from the terror of inexistence, are an inevitable by-product of self-consciousness. Because we have never experienced a lack of consciousness, we cannot imagine what it will feel like to be dead. In fact, it won’t feel like anything-and therein lies the problem.

The common view of death as a great mystery usually is brushed aside as an emotionally fueled desire to believe that death isn’t the end of the road. And indeed, a prominent school of research in social psychology called terror management theory contends that afterlife beliefs, as well as less obvious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, exist to assuage what would otherwise be crippling anxiety about the ego’s inexistence.

According to proponents, you possess a secret arsenal of psychological defenses designed to keep your death anxiety at bay (and to keep you from ending up in the fetal position listening to Nick Drake on your iPod). My writing this article, for example, would be interpreted as an exercise in “symbolic immortality“; terror management theorists would likely tell you that I wrote it for posterity, to enable a concrete set of my ephemeral ideas to outlive me, the biological organism. (I would tell you that I’d be happy enough if a year from now it still had a faint pulse.)

Yet a small number of researchers, including me, are increasingly arguing that the evolution of self-consciousness has posed a different kind of problem altogether. This position holds that our ancestors suffered the unshakable illusion that their minds were immortal, and it’s this hiccup of gross irrationality that we have unmistakably inherited from them. Individual human beings, by virtue of their evolved cognitive architecture, had trouble conceptualizing their own psychological inexistence from the start.... <From the same SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article>
Last edited by hammock on Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Blaggard
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Blaggard »

You're bad at lip reading Bill, it's more like I missed you sex, or I missed you for sex.

Certainly the lips say nothing like Fuck you death. I should know I am blind, death or is that deaf and dumb. ;)

Might be a feminist statement, or a woman missing a man, being knifed by rationality after she binned that arsehole, could be anything but it has nothing to do with death.
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Gee »

Ginkgo wrote: I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science.
Which is just fine because this is not a science forum. It is a philosophy forum.

Gee
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Gee »

Hammock;

I see two very serious flaws in reasoning in the excerpt that you posted, which I will explain below.
hammock wrote:Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death; by Jesse Bering; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN; Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The first flaw is with the word "imagine". When we try to imagine something, it is a self-directed activity, so we are working with the rational aspect of mind -- often referred to as the Ego.

Now the Ego processes information through the brain, and this information is mostly related to the five senses that help us to navigate the physical world. There is no reason, that I can think of, to assume that the Ego has any knowledge except that which is of the physical world. So asking it to imagine something that is not of the physical world in order to test reality, is a little silly. It would be like asking people, a thousand years ago, to imagine the giant sea monsters that live in the ocean to decide whether or not they actually exist. Most people were sure that sea monsters were not real, but giant squid do exist, and we are learning that there were other large sea creatures that existed in the recent past. Imagination is not a very good tool to use for testing reality.

It seems to me that the Eastern monks, who study the art of removing the "self" through meditation, and dealing with the sub/unconscious aspects of mind, are more likely to find valid answers to the question of existence after death. This is because there is no reason to assume that the rational mind, the Ego, exists after death, because it is designed to work with physical reality -- it would be moot after death.

The sub/unconscious aspects of mind, the SuperEgo, is an entirely different story and is reactionary -- not self directed. The unconscious mind has absolutely no understanding of time and space or cause and effect, and it clearly has little comprehension of physical reality. One could be justified in wondering if it is even in physical reality, or if it is nonlocal. Dr. Blanco broke down the unconscious mind into, I believe, five levels, but I suspect that there could be more. Now it is very possible that this aspect of mind, or at least some of the levels, could exist after death.

It is also worth noting that the SuperEgo is mostly activated by emotion, and that most of the paranormal and all religion and morality relate to emotion. So although we may not be able to "know" that we died, we may well be able to "feel" that we died. Is there any real difference?

The second flaw that I see in the reasoning in the article is that it assumes an either, or, position. We either know or don't know that we died, which is a very simplistic way of looking at it. Conscious life is very complex, so why do we assume that consciousness would be less complex after death? There is no evidence to support this idea, and a lot of evidence that refutes it. Dr. Ian Stevenson's work on reincarnation at the University of Virginia has been peer reviewed, and he has some very compelling evidence for the existence of reincarnation. The evidence that memory can transfer from death to another life is substantial in many of the cases. And yet, Dr. Stevenson does not appear to believe that all people reincarnate, and was looking for a cause.

There is also possession, which is different from reincarnation. There are near-death testimonies, and ghosts, who seem to be very different. There are people who have talked to dead relatives and friends, and a wealth of religious experiences. So I don't think that death is as simple as is implied here.

Gee
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hammock
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by hammock »

Gee, you're writing to the choir when it comes to any potential transcendent conditions that could make the extrospective world and its interdependent phenomena and network of internal explanations possible. But science, and today's naturalist / physicalist philosophers that orbit it like satellites, couldn't care less about the "old school" stuff - and those assorted near-death testimonies, ghosts, religious experiences, etc -- except to reduce the latter to mistaken interpretations.

They deal in that world of appearances which we are intersubjectively confronted with and its experimentally-approved strata, from the absurdly tiny Planck scale to gargantuan macrocosmic levels. And that is specifically what the post was addressing with snips from Bering's SciAm article: Bill's reference to "...science ... point[s] to the ... conclusion - We never experience death." How that result should unremarkably / unsurprisingly fall out of the facts and useful theories currently setting on the table of the restrained, mainstream physical sciences. [A mathematically expressed "panpsychism" grounded in information theories is only tantalizingly acquiring a tentative foothold via the work of Giulio Tononi, Christof Koch, Max Tegmark, etc.]

Other than detours such as that, your prior observation of "...this is not a science forum. It is a philosophy forum" is dead-on. I myself wonder at times what the bloody hell is going on around here (i.e., did I wander into physicsforums.com by mistake or take a wrong turn into Crank Crackpot's Pseudoscience Hall of Fame or...).
Ginkgo
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Ginkgo »

hammock wrote:
Ginkgo wrote:[..2..] I think Arising nailed the scientific aspect when he said, "We experience dying and having died we are unable to experience." In order to experience something after death there would need to be an enduring self. As far as science is concerned there is no enduring self. This doesn't mean science is right, it just means that when we apply the scientific methodology to consciousness there is no-self. Neuroscientists and philosophers talk about the self as being illusory. [..1..] I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science.

Apparently you didn't read it very closely, since what you expressed in [..2..] as "the scientific aspect" was the gist of that clip. Bering: "Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died-and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce."

His addressing of this closet-belief among or a poor reasoning on the part of some extinctivists that eternal oblivion is literal was simply to distribute the idiocy around to both sides (the other being the majority belief in afterlife, transmigration, etc). Offering these common views as a background for introducing his own research explorations / hypothesis which "holds that our ancestors suffered the unshakable illusion that their minds were immortal, and it’s this hiccup of gross irrationality that we have unmistakably inherited from them. Individual human beings, by virtue of their evolved cognitive architecture, had trouble conceptualizing their own psychological inexistence from the start" [rest of the applicable quote at bottom].

But Bering's own professional projects or personal pursuits weren't the point. In the course of such he just happens to echo that this is the very conclusion that would likewise have to fall-out of what's currently setting on the table of science: "...that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective".
Jesse Bering wrote:...In fact, the only real mystery is why we’re so convinced that when it comes to where we’re going “when the whole thing’s done,” we’re dealing with a mystery at all. After all, the brain is like any other organ: a part of our physical body. And the mind is what the brain does-it’s more a verb than it is a noun. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too?

And yet people in every culture believe in an afterlife of some kind or, at the very least, are unsure about what happens to the mind at death. My psychological research has led me to believe that these irrational beliefs, rather than resulting from religion or serving to protect us from the terror of inexistence, are an inevitable by-product of self-consciousness. Because we have never experienced a lack of consciousness, we cannot imagine what it will feel like to be dead. In fact, it won’t feel like anything-and therein lies the problem.

The common view of death as a great mystery usually is brushed aside as an emotionally fueled desire to believe that death isn’t the end of the road. And indeed, a prominent school of research in social psychology called terror management theory contends that afterlife beliefs, as well as less obvious beliefs, behaviors and attitudes, exist to assuage what would otherwise be crippling anxiety about the ego’s inexistence.

According to proponents, you possess a secret arsenal of psychological defenses designed to keep your death anxiety at bay (and to keep you from ending up in the fetal position listening to Nick Drake on your iPod). My writing this article, for example, would be interpreted as an exercise in “symbolic immortality“; terror management theorists would likely tell you that I wrote it for posterity, to enable a concrete set of my ephemeral ideas to outlive me, the biological organism. (I would tell you that I’d be happy enough if a year from now it still had a faint pulse.)

Yet a small number of researchers, including me, are increasingly arguing that the evolution of self-consciousness has posed a different kind of problem altogether. This position holds that our ancestors suffered the unshakable illusion that their minds were immortal, and it’s this hiccup of gross irrationality that we have unmistakably inherited from them. Individual human beings, by virtue of their evolved cognitive architecture, had trouble conceptualizing their own psychological inexistence from the start.... <From the same SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article>
I see. It is psychological failing on the pat of the individual.
Last edited by Ginkgo on Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Ginkgo
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Ginkgo »

Gee wrote:
Ginkgo wrote: I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science.
Which is just fine because this is not a science forum. It is a philosophy forum.

Gee
Yes, it is fine. My post wasn't meant to be a criticism. The OP started out with a claim that leading edge science pointed to the possibility we can never experience death. Hammock provided us with what appears to be a psychologists explanation for this phenomenon and that's fair enough.
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Re: Fuck you, death.

Post by Advocate »

[quote=Ginkgo post_id=179602 time=1411680646 user_id=7624]
[quote="hammock"][b]Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death[/b]; by Jesse Bering; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN; Wednesday, October 22, 2008

<...snip... > [color=#003300]As philosopher and Center for Naturalism founder Thomas W. Clark wrote in a 1994 article for the Humanist:

[i]Here … is the view at issue: When we die, what’s next is nothing; death is an abyss, a black hole, the end of experience; it is eternal nothingness, the permanent extinction of being. And here, in a nutshell, is the error contained in that view: It is to reify nothingness-make it a positive condition or quality (for example, of “blackness”)-and then to place the individual in it after death, so that we somehow fall into nothingness, to remain there eternally.[/i]

[b]Consider the rather startling fact that you will never know you have died.[/b] You may feel yourself slipping away, but it isn’t as though there will be a “you” around who is capable of ascertaining that, once all is said and done, it has actually happened. Just to remind you, you need a working cerebral cortex to harbor propositional knowledge of any sort, including the fact that you’ve died-and once you’ve died your brain is about as phenomenally generative as a head of lettuce. In a 2007 article published in the journal Synthese, University of Arizona philosopher Shaun Nichols puts it this way: “When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there’s an obstacle!”

This observation may not sound like a major revelation to you, [b]but I bet you’ve never considered what it actually means, which is that your own mortality is unfalsifiable from the first-person perspective. This obstacle is why writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe allegedly remarked that “everyone carries the proof of his own immortality within himself.”[/b]

Even when we want to believe that our minds end at death, it is a real struggle to think in this way. A study I published in the Journal of Cognition and Culture in 2002 reveals the illusion of immortality operating in full swing in the minds of undergraduate students who were asked a series of questions about the psychological faculties of a dead man.

Richard, I told the students, had been killed instantaneously when his vehicle plunged into a utility pole. After the participants read a narrative about Richard’s state of mind just prior to the accident, I queried them as to whether the man, now that he was dead, retained the capacity to experience mental states. “Is Richard still thinking about his wife?” I asked them. “Can he still taste the flavor of the breath mint he ate just before he died? Does he want to be alive?”

You can imagine the looks I got, because apparently not many people pause to consider whether souls have taste buds, become randy or get headaches. Yet most gave answers indicative of “psychological continuity reasoning,” in which they envisioned Richard’s mind to continue functioning despite his death. This finding came as no surprise given that, on a separate scale, most respondents classified themselves as having a belief in some form of an afterlife.

[b]What was surprising, however, was that many participants who had identified themselves as having “extinctivist” beliefs[/b] (they had ticked off the box that read: “What we think of as the ‘soul,’ or conscious personality of a person, ceases permanently when the body dies”) [b]occasionally gave psychological-continuity responses, too. Thirty-two percent of the extinctivists’ answers betrayed their hidden reasoning that emotions and desires survive death; another 36 percent of their responses suggested the extinctivists reasoned this way for mental states related to knowledge (such as remembering, believing or knowing). One particularly vehement extinctivist thought the whole line of questioning silly and seemed to regard me as a numbskull for even asking. But just as well-he proceeded to point out that of course Richard knows he is dead, because there’s no afterlife and Richard sees that now.[/b]

So why is it so hard to conceptualize inexistence anyway? Part of my own account, which I call the “simulation constraint hypothesis,” is that in attempting to imagine what it’s like to be dead we appeal to our own background of conscious experiences-because that’s how we approach most thought experiments. [b]Death isn’t “like” anything we’ve ever experienced, however. Because we have never consciously been without consciousness, even our best simulations of true nothingness just aren’t good enough.[/b]

For us extinctivists, it’s kind of like staring into a hallway of mirrors-but rather than confronting a visual trick, we’re dealing with cognitive reverberations of subjective experience. In Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno’s 1913 existential screed, The Tragic Sense of Life, one can almost see the author tearing out his hair contemplating this very fact. “Try to fill your consciousness with the representation of no-consciousness,” he writes, “and you will see the impossibility of it. The effort to comprehend it causes the most tormenting dizziness.”

Wait, you say, isn’t Unamuno forgetting something? We certainly do have experience with nothingness. Every night, in fact, when we’re in dreamless sleep. But you’d be mistaken in this assumption. Clark puts it this way (emphasis mine): [i]“We may occasionally have the impression of having experienced or ‘undergone’ a period of unconsciousness, but, of course, this is impossible. The ‘nothingness’ of unconsciousness cannot be an experienced actuality.”[/i][/color] <...snip...>[/quote]


I see this is clip as being an exploration of metaphysical ontology , so strictly speaking this particular extract isn't science. This doesn't mean that science shouldn't or doesn't address death. I think Arising nailed the scientific aspect when he said, "We experience dying and having died we are unable to experience."

In order to experience something after death there would need to be an enduring self. As far as science is concerned there is no enduring self. This doesn't mean science is right, it just means that when we apply the scientific methodology to consciousness there is no-self. Neuroscientists and philosophers talk about the self as being illusory.
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It's not an illusion. All experiences are real even if they're not Of something real. Self is synonymous with perspective, awareness, ego.
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