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Reincarnation technically possible?

  1. Mar 28, 2010 #1
    According to the first law of thermodynamics, nothing can be created or destroyed, everything is just a new mixture. So if a human being has a metaphysical soul, this matter is assumed to not have any weight in the physical world (unless you are into the whole 21 grams thing) and you could hypothetically travel to new planes of existence (heaven), or reincarnate that way. However, if the soul doesn't exist, and consciousness is just brain matter, then this will be subject to the laws of thermodynamics. This means to me, that if a certain (no matter how low the probability) re-arrangement of the material that made up your brain were to reform, you could share a continued consciousness through a new life. If this is not possible, then this means consciousness is not made of matter, and is therefore a "soul". Therefore, reincarnation is technically (even if unlikely) possible.

    If this was the case, some problems could still cause annihilation, however, such as if a black hole ate our genetic material (along with our galaxy). Heat Death, if possible, could destroy our chance of reincarnation by destruction of all life vessels. So do you think reincarnation is a possibility? I think so, however, the personality is destroyed forever, no memories retained, no personal identity carried over, etc. Everything is Tabula Rasa upon reincarnation. I've wrote a few papers on my ideas, so I may update this later... please comment, would love to hear everyone's own ideas and criticisms.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2010 #2
    If there was some "metaphysical" soul, how would it find its way, perhaps halfway across the world, and into a newborn?
  4. Mar 28, 2010 #3
    One of the things I've always asked myself is:

    If you lose all memories when you re-incarnate, and the personality of people is basically fluid throughout their time and the only vague manifestation of an ego you can have is a set of memories, how is it still 'you' if you re-incarnate?

    Sounds to me that this topic to begin with assumes the naïve illusion of self. There is no 'self' or 'ego', that's just a naïve view people have.
  5. Mar 29, 2010 #4
    My point is that you still have consciousness, whether it's the same personality or not... kind of like total amnesia, and with a new body so no one will recognize you.

    "Re: Reincarnation technically possible?
    If there was some "metaphysical" soul, how would it find its way, perhaps halfway across the world, and into a newborn?"

    We don't know, but I don't see why it couldn't be possible. It's just as silly to say something like that is impossible as it is to say it definitely is. I think we assume this universe is the only one, because we can't scientifically confirm another, but philosophically we should be able to consider these ideas. It's not revealed religion, it's natural religion, and I think it is as much a possibility as the void.
  6. Mar 29, 2010 #5
    That's inhaerently unfalsifiable. What stops me from saying that my little nephew is not the re-incarnation of my dead grandmother then?

    There has to be some thing that stays that we can objectively test.

    I can just as well call this chair in front of me the reincarnation of my hair, my hair died, didn't it?

    As I said, the entire believe seems to assume the exists of the supposed 'self', a naïve realistic view that has no scientific backing.
  7. Mar 29, 2010 #6
    We can't prove it, just like we can't prove much of any metaphysical philosophy, but it doesn't mean it isn't hypothetically possible, yes? The point is, is it possible? If it is possible, then that means that the afterlife is a possibility, whether we know it or not. Doesn't matter if we know what is what reincarnated, just that there is reincarnation for it's own sake. That this life isn't the end, but you will never remember it.
  8. Mar 29, 2010 #7
    For us to debate the possibility, we need to come up with a definition of the concept first.

    You say 'the end', I ask, 'the end of what?', give me an aspect of a human being that hypothetically can remain on.
  9. Mar 29, 2010 #8
    Think of Aristotle's idea of a building, I'm going from memory so feel free to add detail and/or corrections, but a house is the form or idea or identity a certain arrangement takes on. If that house falls down it is gone forever, but the materials remain, who is to say that a new house can't be rebuilt from the same materials recycled? It wouldn't need EVERY material part would it? Just the part that caused your consciousness, but at this stage in our technology I don't think we could say exactly what that is.
  10. Mar 29, 2010 #9
    Ah, the guy who thought it was a prima facie moral truth that beating up slaves was desired.

    If you don't know what it is and have no guarantee of its existence at all, and positing its existence would answer no quaestions, and raise a lot. Then how can you even ask yourself this quaestion?

    And this still assumes that human being are conscious, a thing they've still not been able to proof while claiming it oftentimes, despite that their own theories of physics all-but exclude the possibility of the intuitive 'consciousness', and they haven't even been able to define it.

    Note that you still have not defined what re-incarnation would be, you've intuitively illustrated it.
  11. Mar 29, 2010 #10
    I didn't say I endorsed all of Aristotle's views, you might as well say I support pedophilia since I like most of the greek philosophers. That's an attack based on credibility, not on logic. Also, sure it raises lots of questions, but isn't that the point? Philosophy is the beginning of science, it created science by forcing more questions, and maybe science can come closer to answering elements of this, but doubtful the whole thing since we can't record personal consciousness, in fact you might as well be a solipsist, since you can't prove anyone else has consciousness, the burden of proof is on them right?

    Also, at this point, with many different definitions about god, the soul, etc. it makes it hard to define reincarnation, since it brings up questions about what is personal identity. I say personal identity is destroyed. Okay imagine you have no senses; no sight, no audio, nothing, what is left? consciousness, you are on a roller coaster, you are a soul in a body experiencing memory and everything else, and when that ride is over you go to a new ride and forget the last one. Let me try one more illustration...

    Let's say X = death, and Y = alive. So before you were born, you were in a state of X, but now you are Y... when you die you are X again, so why couldn't you go from X to Y a second time?
  12. Mar 29, 2010 #11
    I'm just demonstrating that simply citing them without proving that they are right can lead to awkward situations.

    And once you've a proof it is right, then attaching a name to it becomes irrelevant information. Note that I am against the argument to authority at all costs.

    Greek philosophers were pish, this has little to do with 'not having enough information', they simply made claims they had no position to make, this is a common trait of people, I would be partial to claim that nigh all philosophers made absurd claims they couldn't back up.

    Also, I have nothing against paedophilia personally, I haven't seen a shred of evidence to back up the 70-odd years old western dogma that supposedly human beings are the single mammal on the planet who can some-how not 'consent' (whatever that means) to sexual intercourse after they become corporally ready to reproduce. The historical evidence is hard to dismiss, there were countless stable societies where this was the norm. Alexander the Great was taken up the bum by Socrates when he was eight years old, a mental traumat is unlikely to become the most celebrated military tactician of the ancient world.

    Beg to differ, if you already have a theory that answers all quaestions, modifying it so that it raises new ones, but does not answer and more quaestions is what we call violating ockam's razor.

    I think the birth of science was the moment people realized you can't trust some gut feeling of some person with some any-thing-goes reasoning and you need objective verification of facts, falsifiability, controlled conditions et cetera to understand the world around you.

    Science replaced in many domains philosophy, that's not to say that philosophy has lead to science. You can put up the same arguments to respect astrology.

    Solipsism is also naïve realism. You've assumed here that 'I' (what-ever that means) have a 'conscious' mind. A claim I'm not willing to make at this point in time.

    This still assumes that:

    A: consciousness exists in the normal configuration (people have introspection)
    B: this remains without mental stimuli.

    Both I find dubious.

    Your argument assumes that there exists a 'you', an 'identity' or an 'ego', a thing science has yet to have backed up. Also note that the very quaestion of 'alive' and 'lifeless' may be applicable to 'naïve sciences' such as biology, but hard science such as biophysics tends to ignore this because it's a form of naïve realism that cannot be reconciled with the laws of physics. There is no 'alive' or 'lifeless' matter, there is matter.
  13. Mar 29, 2010 #12


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    The way people live on in the Aristotlean view is in our memories and history books.

    Our physical being also remains, though not as one piece of course.

    So we do continue to exist, we're just divided in many ways and no longer living.

    I somehow doubt we continue to experience the physical phenomena of consciousness though.
  14. Mar 30, 2010 #13
    There are children that claim to have memories of past-lives. Perhaps a rigorous testing of these claims would constitute some sort of proofing?
  15. Mar 30, 2010 #14


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    Thats interesting. I watch a couple of cases on youtube and if all variables are correct (the parents aren't lying, the child isn't lying, and everything is not an act) then it provides some sort of insight into possibilities of life after death.

    The ones I saw was one was a scottish boy and the other was a kid claiming in his past life that we was in a world war against the Japanese. Interesting stuff.
  16. Mar 30, 2010 #15
    Tell me, if we have one atom, and in the next instant in time another atom, how can we test if they're the same? Does the property 'same atom' apply to begin with?

    And how about annihilation and particle genesis hmm?

    I really think this praeservation of identities is really the product of naïve realism.
  17. Mar 30, 2010 #16
    Yes I agree, it's a let down that science hasn't had a serious approach to these claims yet except for 1/2 researchers given the accuracies and sincerity some of these cases have. I wonder if these claims will ever be analysed by multiple researchers. I certainly think they should, either to discover that these claims have something behind them or to understand how such a claim with remarkable accuracies was falsified.
  18. Mar 30, 2010 #17
    You're asking the wrong question. You're just invite people to debunk the possibility without consideration of the data given their current scientific knowledge. Even though most scientists would agree the idea doesn't seem possible, the question you should be asking is: do we have any data that supports the reincarnation hypothesis? An appropriate treatment of the data is the ONLY way you're going to arrive an at answer to your question IF THE ANSWER IS YES. If the answer is no, of course disseminating the data won't reveal anything.
  19. Mar 31, 2010 #18
    well, all the data (memories) downloaded to x and loaded agin in a new body.
  20. Mar 31, 2010 #19


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    Descriptions come often in the garb of naive realism because that's the only way we can communicate with each other (through common experience). Even abstract ideas are rooted, somewhat metaphorically, in direct experience. This shouldn't however, be confused with naive realism itself.

    In the Quantum view, particles are indistinguishable from one another; there's a plethora of philosophical arguments that can fall out of that (both in support of, and antagonistic to your point) but let's communicate in the same naive realism sense as before in a classical sense:

    The chunk of flesh you leave behind when you die can feed flora and fauna. The gases that bloat up and then release into the atmosphere and mix with the ambient air. Without question, the chunk of flesh and the gases once made up your physical body and are now being dispersed throughout the Earth through both diffusive and ecological processes.

    The preservation of identity is not really contained much here though (Of course, we can speculate about the identify of a prehistoric person based on lesions in their skull, I suppose). But the preservation of identity is held by the history books and passed down through speech and writing in the minds of the descendants that come after. Information is passed (not all too efficiently, mind you) from the identity in question to all forms of society around him or her. They leave impressions in the minds of their family and friends, and in some cases, their whole country or even the world. If the impressions warrant significance, a person's identity may remain for centuries (Aristotle, for instance, has retained what I trust to be a fairly accurate identity).
  21. Mar 31, 2010 #20
    From a philosophical point of view, it would be interesting to map the mental terrain which allows both solipsism and reincarnation to exist simultaneously.
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