Death, being dead, afterlives and other nonsense

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In summary: Integrating theories might mean that we change the way we observe the world. For example, when we learn that the sun orbits the earth, we change the way we observe the night sky.
  • #1
lem09
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Death, being dead, afterlives and other nonsense!

Dear scientists!

What do you think happens to you when you die? By which I mean, according to physics what happens to the mind?

I have this strong belief that the mind can't die, in some senses of the word. I don't actually mean in the sense of lingering in people's thoughts but I think that it doesn't matter right now what my personal belief about how exactly I will exist.

So what does current science rule out? I am also concerned to a lesser extent about if I have a grounded belief on what happens when I die without scientific proof (for what it's worth I don't really mean appeals to any scripture)?

OK thanks :-)

Edited to add that while I don't want to be insulted, I'd be very happy to hear a rubbishing of any religious beliefs.

I just want to know in what ways I will not exist when I die / what ways I will. According to science.
And / or if that's just a question for science
. I'm really sorry if this doesn't make sense.
 
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  • #2


Other than wishing it to be so, why do you think the mind survives death?
 
  • #3


Because philosophy might have something to say about it and philosophy might say that we survive death.
Yes I know that all I've said is the word philosophy twice there, so I'll add that my starting point is just that I can't imagine it being any other way.

You might reply that I can or you can or I'm just being silly but: it makes no sense to me to say that the life of my mind as a stream of events can become something that cannot be described as a type of vision.

Other than wishing it to be so
Why suppose that it would be a good thing?
 
  • #4


lem09 said:
Because philosophy might have something to say about it and philosophy might say that we survive death.
Yes I know that all I've said is the word philosophy twice there, so I'll add that my starting point is just that I can't imagine it being any other way.

You might reply that I can or you can or I'm just being silly but: it makes no sense to me to say that the life of my mind as a stream of events can become something that cannot be described as a type of vision.Why suppose that it would be a good thing?

Where do thoughts come from? We know we can alter thoughts by physically altering people's brain. We know brain damage causes problems with thought. Once that machinery breaks down, what is it that you imagine to continue your thought processes?
 
  • #5


I'm not sure I'm talking about thought processes as much as something like the container of the brain.
Or maybe that the life of the brain is a reality that is separate from that of natural cause and effect. Not that science cannot say we die extinguished and that's it but that that reality doesn't map onto the brain's life so simply. E.g., maybe the event of my seeing a colour is not just brain processes. That is a very common idea in philosophy.
 
  • #6


lem09 said:
maybe that the life of the brain is a reality that is separate from that of natural cause and effect.
Again, what would make you think this? What evidence is there that this is the case?

lem09 said:
Not that science cannot say we die extinguished and that's it but that that reality doesn't map onto brain life-death so simply.

Why not? What makes the brain more special than your heart or liver?
 
  • #7


DavidSnider said:
Where do thoughts come from? We know we can alter thoughts by physically altering people's brain. We know brain damage causes problems with thought. Once that machinery breaks down, what is it that you imagine to continue your thought processes?

This is imho a poor analogy because a machine is just a machine nothing more, as i mentioned above.
Again, what would make you think this? What evidence is there that this is the case?
Again, like I said above, my lack of imagination. I see no reason why that couldn't be formulated into a philosophical argument, e.g. a phenomenological one.

Why not? What makes the brain more special than your heart or liver?
I don't know what makes it so but I have good reason to believe that my life cannot be reduced to the chemical functioning of my organs. As I mention in the first paragraph of this post.
FWIW I didn't really want to discuss the validity of philosophical argument in general but I'd be happy to talk about that, actually.
 
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  • #8


A difference between a chemical explanation of me and something like the cogito is that the cogito is more certain.
Does greater conviction in a lower level theory ever have consequences to their integration? I'm not sure that I know much about how science works tbh.
 
  • #9


What happens if the mind of a person with Alzheimer's survives death? Do they keep the Alzheimer's mind or does their mind revert back to its factory setting?
 
  • #10


I don't really understand your facetiousness..? I'd suggest that all minds "revert" to the same state.

Does physics really say nothing about the mind or what happens to it at death? In_that_case I suppose that the only question left for me is whether argument can pick up on these little gaps.
 
  • #11


lem09 said:
I don't know what makes it so but I have good reason to believe that my life cannot be reduced to the chemical functioning of my organs. As I mention in the first paragraph of this post.
"I don't know what makes it so" ...
followed by
"but I have good reason to believe ... "

Do you understand why people might be confused by this?
 
  • #12


Well no.
There's a (big obvious) difference between an explanation of how something comes about and a reason to believe it.
 
  • #13


lem09 said:
Well no.
There's a (big obvious) difference between an explanation of how something comes about and a reason to believe it.

What is your reason to believe it though?
 
  • #14


My reason? Lots of people have different reasons and I suppose that the one I'll give now is that believing I am just physical processes does an injustice to the conviction of the cogito.
 
  • #15


lem09 said:
My reason? Lots of people have different reasons and I suppose that the one I'll give now is that believing I am just physical processes does an injustice to the conviction of the cogito.

What do you mean by 'the cogito'?

As far as I know cogito means 'I think'. It doesn't say anything about how or why you think or if your thinking ever stops.
 
  • #16


Well I mean something close enough to "thinking" as to be OK with you understanding it as such in such and such a way...

How can some item of knowledge [I exist] be nothing more than some other item of knowledge [I am this chemical body] if the event they both describe is more likely the first item than the second?
If the second were to subsume the first it would be as or more certain, just as if they were identical statements [Like A and B, and, B and A] they would convince as much as each other, accrue the same level of support.
 
  • #17


lem09 said:
Well I mean something close enough to "thinking" as to be OK with you understanding it as such in such and such a way...

How can some item of knowledge [I exist] be nothing more than some other item of knowledge [I am this chemical body] if the event they both describe is more likely the first item than the second?
Nobody was saying that people don't exist. Both "I exist" and "I am this chemical body" are true.

lem09 said:
If the second were to subsume the first it would be as or more certain, just as if they were identical statements [Like A and B, and, B and A] they would convince as much as each other, accrue the same level of support.

Still, I don't see how this is relevant to whether or not you continue to exist when your brain stops functioning unless you are using some notion of existence in the sense that a perfect circle exists.
 
  • #18


lem09 said:
What do you think happens to you when you die? By which I mean, according to physics what happens to the mind?

The easy answer is that when your brain is gone, so is your mind.

But you could also argue that mind is a little more complicated than that. To the degree that your nervous and endocrine system is an expression of your genes, you will in some sense continue to persist in any children you may have.

A second more convincing way that minds can persist is through culture. Most of what is considered essential to human-level awareness is sociocultural - higher emotions, self-consciouness, voluntary memory, etc. See the literature on Vygotskean psychology and social constructionism (or memes if you want the very rudimentary view).

So to the degree in which you influence your society with "distinctively you" ideas, you will continue to think and imagine and remember - even though it will of course be other brains/minds that are literally responsible for this persistence of your self.

Your kids are of course then a double dose of this persistence of you-ness. And I have to confess that as I get older, I seem to sound and act more and more like my dad.
 
  • #19


Both "I exist" and "I am this chemical body" are true.
But do they say the exact same thing: is personal existence just biological processes?

I don't see how this is relevant
If the mind is not just what science says it is, then maybe descriptions of mental events are not a map of descriptions of material events, in the sense of mind flowing past the point where we would otherwise infer that it physically and therefore mentally ends. Mind then survives death in that death will, according to this map of the mind, never happen (though I have not given much of an argument for being unable to conceive of a fully extinguished mind, Kant suggests something a bit like what I mean at the very beginning of the Critique of Pure Reason, imvho).

I'm going to sleep now so thank you for the replies.
 
  • #20


I don't really understand your facetiousness..? I'd suggest that all minds "revert" to the same state.
I was being serious. If a mind survives past death, what happens to the minds that have been damaged by disease? Does that damaged mind persist past death?
For example, if your mind and your aunt's mind meet in the afterlife, if she had Alzheimer's disease, would the mind you meet be the damaged Alzheimer's diseased mind or the mind of the younger version of herself with a mind still perfectly intact?

So your answer is they revert to the same state. I guess that means that all minds have a default state that they each have in common.

What I don't understand is what medium do you think through after your brain is gone? We use our brains here in this mortal body, but once that's gone, I don't see how our minds could escape.
 
  • #21


What I mean is that they'd be about the same thing (me) but because the mind would not be reduced the descriptions would not fully map onto each other (this itch is these neurons).

So if that can happen then maybe in principle a similar thing does with the timing of neuronal events. That would mean that science cannot entirely rule out the legitimacy of the argument that I cannot conceive of the death of my mind and so cannot die: and perhaps then I am right and there is a very minimal kind of afterlife.

Edited to add: if no mental event can be reduced to neurons then surely the passage of time be either. And as I have previously argued, no mental event that is essential to life can be reduced to brain chemistry because of their different truth content [?].
 
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  • #22


Time to end this.
 

Related to Death, being dead, afterlives and other nonsense

1. What happens to our bodies after we die?

After we die, our bodies go through a process called decomposition, where they break down into smaller components such as gases, liquids, and solids. This process is driven by microorganisms and other environmental factors and can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years.

2. Do people experience anything after they die?

As a scientist, I have not found any evidence to suggest that people experience anything after they die. The concept of an afterlife or consciousness after death is a subject of philosophical and religious belief, rather than scientific fact.

3. Is there any scientific proof of an afterlife?

No, there is currently no scientific proof of an afterlife. While some people may have personal experiences or beliefs about an afterlife, there is no empirical evidence to support the existence of an afterlife or any type of consciousness after death.

4. Can we bring someone back to life after they have died?

Currently, there is no technology or scientific method that can bring someone back to life after they have died. Once a person's brain and other vital organs have stopped functioning, it is not possible to revive them. However, research in cryonics is exploring the possibility of preserving and reviving a person's brain in the future.

5. What happens to our consciousness after we die?

As a scientist, I cannot definitively answer this question as the concept of consciousness is still a mystery and not fully understood. Some theories suggest that consciousness arises from the brain and therefore ceases to exist after death. Others propose that consciousness may continue in some form after death, but this is currently unproven and subject to personal beliefs.

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