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Eternal life

  1. Sep 26, 2010 #1
    Hello guys, I've been thinking about a concept, and to some of you, it may seem like slightly different version of reincarnation, but take it as you may because I'm an atheist and I don't believe in afterlife, and this may sound contradictory to what I'm about to say..

    Bare in mind that the words "we" and "you" are not to be taken literally.
    I think that we will part of humanity until it literally ceases to exist, if it does.
    The reason being because we came into existence, before you, there was nothing, but right now you're here, and the reason you're here is because you came into existence, and if we don't exist, the concept of time is meaningless because we can't feel it.

    It's like when you sleep, it goes by instantly, you don't feel time, all of the sudden, you're awake. We're always awake in a sense. So when we die, our concept of everything is diminished, but then "we", by chance, can come into existence again, out of nothing. So our consciousness is never dead in a sense, it is dead for you & me, after we die, but with probability & chance, we are always here, because who else will be here other than you and I? Everything in between being born & dying is nothing compared to being alive, and in a sense I think we're eternal as human beings, baring in mind that our consciousness is a unique virtue that can come into existence, via reproduction of course.
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  3. Sep 29, 2010 #2

    I started a topic in another post about ‘the language of perception/concept’ and my question - - Is the way we understand things dependent upon the use of words? Or we are trying to understand things because of the words?
    What you said about ‘consciousness’ is one example of what I want to point out about my topic - - word/term first before the concept or concept first before the word/term.

    ...... “It's like when you sleep, it goes by instantly, you don't feel time, all of the sudden, you're awake. We're always awake in a sense. So when we die, our concept of everything is diminished, but then "we", by chance, can come into existence again, out of nothing. So our consciousness is never dead in a sense, it is dead for you & me, after we die, but with probability & chance, we are always here, because who else will be here other than you and I? Everything in between being born & dying is nothing compared to being alive, and in a sense I think we're eternal as human beings, baring in mind that our consciousness is a unique virtue that can come into existence, via reproduction of course.” .......

    With your above observation/description/concept/perception; would it be the question about life and its non-cell/mass reference to the terms consciousness, spirit, soul, thought, eternal life is of (on) the same context?

    There is perception prior to description or words. And of course, as mankind developed language, words empower ones perception - - and so most of the time we end up not understanding each other.


    About your topic:

    What I understand about the relationship between ‘the consciousness’ and the body is not about entrance and exit but of special relationship like what we see in a mirror - the object is in the mirror, but it’s not in the mirror. In my understanding even when our body turned into dust ‘we’ are not really dead – like what you said ‘our consciousness is never dead in a sense’.

    Do we know or we don’t know when ‘the thought’ stop working? We don’t even know why neuron works that way – science can explain the how though.
  4. Sep 30, 2010 #3
    I like to think about this in terms of the idea of an "ancestor".

    Think for a minute about your ancestors, about the people who came before you, who looked like you, who passed down knowledge to you across thousands of years. Think of how fire, tools, language all were passed down. Also, think of the ghostly idea of the people who will live on long after you are dead.

    In a sense, you are not really anything on your own. You are just a single cell in the organism that is humanity. Your existence is important because you are a part of this larger thing called humanity. Everything that you are, you owe to humanity as a whole. Every word you can speak, every book you've ever read, every lesson you've ever learned, even your own existence!

    We would like our own, individual consciousness to live on forever, but I don't think that happens. Instead something else happens: our collective consciousness keeps on living forever. (or at least for a very, very long time!) In order to appreciate this, all you need to do is shift your frame of reference. Instead of thinking about your thoughts as being yours, think of them as belonging to humanity. Think about all the things that people do as being part of humanity. Basically, you should think "I am humanity" instead of "I am a part of humanity".

    If you continue to broaden your sense of "I" to include all of life, then you can live for even longer! If you broaden "I" to mean the entire universe, then you are everything. This is what I imagine when I think about the concept of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana" [Broken].

    I also think the idea of "I am everything" is a nice philosophy to live by, too.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Sep 30, 2010 #4

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    Someone else?

    Sounds very grandiose. And also dishonest. Truthfully, you can only say that you are a person in possession of some past knowledge gathered by others, and some knowledge gleaned from your own experiences. There's a wealth of past information that I will never have, and won't even need (morse code, differential geometry, etc) . There are also many things I discovered on my own (balls roll, ice is cold,etc.).

    You could also say that the world you live in now has benefited from all the contributions of many people who lived before, but the "collective consciousness" idea, eh, I don't get it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Oct 5, 2010 #5
    When I wake up, it does usually feel as if roughly the same amount of time has passed as the clock says.
  7. Oct 20, 2010 #6


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    Usually, yes.

    Also, sleep and death may not be similar.
  8. Oct 20, 2010 #7
    Assuming that your feelings are infallible is not a good idea. Indeed our senses and our interpretation of them may differ from the reality (Optical illusions for example). Assuming the reality exists and it is no illusion means that the concept of time will not be meaningless after everyone that can feel it is dead. The only way to make time meaningless is to assume that the reality does not exists without your mind, i.e. it is a product of your mind. I assume that the reality exists independently.

    Also you claim that our consciousness is something unique. You base that on what? Rational conclusion? Feeling? Assumption?
  9. Oct 20, 2010 #8
    What evidence do you have that your conciousness doesn't simply cease to exist when you die and that conciousness is created when you are?
  10. Oct 21, 2010 #9
    The OP hasn't responded yet so I'll take this on. IMO, there is no evidence of reincarnation despite the claims of some people who say they have memories of past lives. However this leads to an interesting paradox. Suppose reincarnation was true, but you have no memory of past lives. Is memory identity? If you had a past life as a self-aware individual but have no memory of that life, in what sense was that you? Each of us, I assume, is self aware and aware of our environment from a specific spatio-temporal perspective. The combination of memory and a spatio-temporal perspective (your brain can't be in two places at the same time) in large part confers our identity as unique individuals.

    To make this a little more clear; suppose you suffered total amnesia except that you retained adult language and psycho-motor skills. This is not strictly analogous to the idea of reincarnation but it still begs the question: 'If the connection of memory is broken between your past and present, are you in some weaker sense reincarnated?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  11. Oct 21, 2010 #10
    I think I agree with everything that you've said there. For one to say that all of our conciousnesses never die, and that we get reincarnated, they must justify by what means that the consiousness has survived (i.e. which parts of it live on, which die). And it seems a bit weak to say that we have extremely vague ties with our past conciousness. If it was something in science, then you'd be more likely to conclude that the past concious being has influenced the new one, not that they are the same entity.
  12. Oct 21, 2010 #11
    only the conciousness we dont share http://bayarearoster.com/js/includes/34/b/happy.gif
  13. Oct 21, 2010 #12
    Yes, but is the person who has total amnesia the same entity? The answer would, I think, be yes in the sense that body is the same with all it's biological characteristics. But with absolutely no memory of the past, the individual experiences a weak reincarnation in that life begins anew (unfortunately with a partially used body). Is there any logical difference between this and "strong" reincarnation without memory transfer except that you get a brand new body?

    One could argue that even if memory doesn't transfer in total amnesia, personality characteristics would. But you could just as well posit that personality characteristics would transfer in strong reincarnation without memory transfer. If you are an introvert now, you were an introvert in past lives and will be an introvert in future lives.


    The point I'm making is that "weak" reincarnation is a fact (although very rare), and strong incarnation without memory transfer need not logically be all that different. I'm not in any way suggesting strong reincarnation occurs, but while our identities are not metaphysical, strong reincarnation without memory transfer is not subject to falsification.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  14. Oct 22, 2010 #13
    The problem here, as always, is definitions. A problem with philosophy is that most of the time, arguments are caused by there not being a perfect description of what one is trying to argue about. I think that most people on this board would agree that if one did lose all of their memories due to amnesia, the personality left over is completely due to the physical body, and as you said, you would count this as weak reincarnation due to biological characteristics. But if your definition of conciousness has something to do with biological characteristics, then this part of the definition doesn't help you for strong reincarnation.

    I know that it's an obvious point, but it just shows that you still need to define in what sense the conciousnesses are the same in strong reincarnation, as it is a completely different issue to weak reincarnation if you are going to allow yourself to agree that this is a form of reincarnation due to biological issues and nothing else.
  15. Oct 22, 2010 #14
    That's the hard part. This is a purely philosophical question based more on logic than biology.

    First, science has little to say on the nature of self-identity. You could reverse the question and ask why are you who you are, seeing the world from a particular place at a particular time? That's not really my question though. My question is: Does that happen only one time? Why should it be that way? Could it happen many times in non overlapping lives? Logically, it seems neither strong reincarnation or the lack of it can claim the logical "high ground."

    I used the weak reincarnation argument as being somewhat analogous in asking how self awareness before total amnesia might relate to self awareness after. Total amnesia often results from a fugue state triggered by a very stressful experience. Clearly the afflicted person suffered and was aware of her/his suffering. Does ablation of memory change the fact that this self awareness had this experience?
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
  16. Oct 22, 2010 #15
    Consciousness, that part of each of us that moves at the speed of time and when you die, maybe, your consciousness collapses back through time to your own beginning. :shy: Deja vu.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
  17. Oct 23, 2010 #16
    There are all sorts of points of view on this one. I suppose that one point of view could be that there is no self, and that our identity is constantly changing, but in a manner such that we are constantly "tricked" into thinking that there is a self, solidified through the experiences that the physical body has had and our memories.

    To your question "why are you who you are, seeing the world from a particular place at a particular time?" you could obviously argue that it is all biological, which forces you to believe that there is no reincarnation. I do agree though, that there is no logical high ground on the issue, it's impossible to argue against reincarnation with mere logic. However, my usual stance on issues like this is to say that there is no value in assuming something that cannot be proven has any real truth, unless its consequences have actual results in the real world, and I'm pretty sure that no one has ever shown any nice consequences of reincarnation being true in the real world. But again, from a purely logical point of view, you cannot say that it is impossible; I suppose that it boils down to Russel's flying teapot again.
  18. Oct 23, 2010 #17
    Existence is eternal, or there wouldn't be this one, so is consciousness, one way or another.
  19. Oct 23, 2010 #18
    If the consciousness was eternal, people would not occasionally fall unconscious.
  20. Oct 23, 2010 #19
    Not quite, because there are two flying teapots. While I usually avoid these kinds of questions, the analogy with weak reincarnation intrigues me. Say an alleged ax murderer goes on trial and pleads he has no memory of what he's accused of doing. The evidence is overwhelming and this is his only defense. The defense claims that he is not the same person that committed the heinous acts. Doctors prove (somehow) that the amnesia is genuine,total and (for the sake of argument) that he will not recover. This is not a true insanity defense. The accused was not insane when the act occured, but what's the use of punishing someone for whom in a real sense, the concept of justice has no meaning. You would be punishing someone who truly has no idea why he's being punished.

    Obviously this example doesn't carry over to strong reincarnation, but it does address the notion of the "self". It is important philosophically to have some logical concept of what the "self" actually is. Strong reincarnation is one flying teapot, but the unique singular self is another.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  21. Oct 23, 2010 #20
    The memories are part of "self", but so are the tendencies to do things. We may not know people's memories, but we may know how they will react in some situations. Being able to tell whet they will say or do is part of knowing someone.

    The murderer may not have the memories, but still have the tendency to do violence.
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