The Empirical "You": Does it Really Exist?

Marty Hamrick
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The Empirical "You": Does it Really Exist?

 I used to spend some time on  forums like this and while many would say that such is a waste of time, I have to disagree because it taught me what the root of the disagreement was and it sort of sent me back to school to learn some things I didn't know before so that I could offer an intelligent rebuttal. One of the things I didn't know much about was classical philosophy. Many of the educated fundamentalists and more liberal Christians alike are very educated in philosophy and I had to go back and read up on philosophers like Kant, Descartes and Nietzsche and for me, such was an enlightenment as it didn't change any of my beliefs, but rather taught me of motivations I could never "get". I could now see where they were coming from. Kant is a biggie,he's their go to guy. Its easy to see why this 18th century German philosopher is appealing to the religious and spiritual. Kant espoused a very staunch, objective morality, a true 100% good and 100% evil and this is where the crux of many of the theistic camp's sympathies lie. If you ask them why they believe such, you're either likely to get an in depth dissertation on Kantian philosophy or you will get a reply that suggests this opinion came to them by way of something other than their 5 senses, though they all differ or are very vague on the source. This tells me that despite claims to the contrary from theologian/philosophers that their motivations are practical, at the heart lies a deep disgust for what they consider to be "evil" and a strong admiration for what they consider "good"( a study even suggested this emotional motivation was genetic, I tend to agree). Kant not only espoused an objective morality, but he created for himself a serious paradox. In his Critique of Pure Reason, Kant stated that since all human experience was subjective, that objectivity was impossible for humans. It begs the question of since man is incapable of objectivity, how then is it possible to know what is objectively right or wrong if morality is objective and humans experience isn't? To the theist, the answer is obvious-God.Now you're starting that shit again, OK which one? The one I worship, of course.

If you follow this line of thinking, you come to the conclusion that the concept or idea is above that of the physical thing it represents (the "spiritual" vs. "physical&quotEye-wink. Is this correct? Now if you talk to a "moralist theist", they will tell you that it is because morality is not a mere code of behaviours as biology and evolutionary science says it is, its a set of eternal principals that come from an objectively moral god or universe depending on belief system. They are thoughts, concepts,so that morality is about what you should or should not do vs. what you really do or don't on a given circumstance based on consequences and actions. To the more spiritual minded, the concept is elevated because it represents life instead of death and decay, eternity instead of temporal existence, i.e. the opposite of what we experience every day. What I find saddest of any of the belief systems based on this idea that the conceptual (spirit) is more important than the physical is that it seems to be motivated on the fact that life sucks for a lot of people and so to have this line of thought set aside is appealing to many who suffer from medical or other life long problems. To me its a type of giving up as nothing that I've seen the world suffer from is unfixable or at least unmanageable if not now, perhaps in the future.
So to the spiritual, the universe is more of a thought project of collective creative consciousness and energy moreso than a collection of stars and other bodies following the laws of nature. The human body is a conduit of this action and therefore it is your eternal connection that is of utmost importance. All religion and spirituality is based on this precept.

I ask again, is this correct? What if the concept (spirit,mind) and physical are as intricately linked as time and space? Space cannot exist without time and time cannot exist without space. Can a concept stand alone without something physical for it to represent or a media to house and move it in? Could you imagine, say an orange without ever experiencing one in the physical? What this shows is that at the heart of everything is information and information can't be information if there isn't something of sentience to receive it as such. The old philosophical question about trees falling in forests becomes academic here. A falling tree makes pressure ripples in the air, but they will only be "sounds" if they are heard and perceived as such by something of sentience. Sentience is impossible without information and information isn't possible without sentience. This is what is at the heart of what theologian/philosophers call the Transcendental Argument for God, or TAG.

At the heart of you, what you call your "soul/spirit" whatever is information.Your sentience drives it. Your memories,feelings, dreams, nightmares, etc. are all what make you, you. If the part of your consciousness does go on after death to become whatever, say reincarnated or merged with the cosmos or even judged by a merciless god, it will not be the "you" that physically incarnated because that information will be gone if there is no media to house or carry it. Whatever exists after that, if anything at all could not be classified as the "you" that left your physical incarnation. Can anything "spiritual" then,really be a form of immortality? If parts of your consciousness get reincarnated in, say, a person who is born decades later, is it really the empirical "you"? What would make it such? Is there such a thing as an empirical "you"?

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."


iwbiek
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if there's an "empirical

if there's an "empirical you," by which i assume you mean some irreducible, essential identity or ego, nobody has ever found it. our self-awareness is pretty useless as evidence of anything concrete.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


Marty Hamrick
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iwbiek wrote:if there's an

iwbiek wrote:
if there's an "empirical you," by which i assume you mean some irreducible, essential identity or ego, nobody has ever found it. our self-awareness is pretty useless as evidence of anything concrete.
Right, self awareness pretty much adds up to a series of logrithmic computations in the brain.

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."


Vastet
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In a sense your question is

In a sense your question is flawed. You mention that if there's some kind of afterlife, you won't really be you anymore. But the problem exists while you're alive, regardless as to whether there's an after or not. Every experience changes a person. Most often in small ways, but sometimes in big ways. Even the small ways add up, like evolution does to produce new species. None of us are the people we were yesterday. Some are very similar, almost identical. But not. Others have changed significantly.

Every lost or changed memory, every death of a cell, every new experience; it all adds up to create the simple fact that the person who wrote this topic no longer exists.

So I would say that unless you can suspend spacetime, there isn't and cannot be an empirical you. Before you can quantify what you means, it has already changed.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


iwbiek
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Vastet wrote:In a sense your

Vastet wrote:
In a sense your question is flawed. You mention that if there's some kind of afterlife, you won't really be you anymore. But the problem exists while you're alive, regardless as to whether there's an after or not. Every experience changes a person. Most often in small ways, but sometimes in big ways. Even the small ways add up, like evolution does to produce new species. None of us are the people we were yesterday. Some are very similar, almost identical. But not. Others have changed significantly.

Every lost or changed memory, every death of a cell, every new experience; it all adds up to create the simple fact that the person who wrote this topic no longer exists.

So I would say that unless you can suspend spacetime, there isn't and cannot be an empirical you. Before you can quantify what you means, it has already changed.




precisely. panta rhei.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


Marty Hamrick
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 Excellent succint way of

 Excellent succint way of breaking it down and tends to run parrallel with some eastern philosophies view on self and ego. The spiritual mindset, not necessarily theistic sees the empirical you as originating from the cosmos or some ethereal realm with your body and matter being conduits. Some claim to have physiological evidence to support the existence of a "spiritual heart" , they believe the heart is where the soul/emotion/connection is seated and thus governs the brain, not the other way around, if I'm to understand them correctly.Dr. Stuart Hammerhoff claims the "soul" resides in microtubules in the brain and is connected to the cosmos through quantum entanglement. Some spiritual types claim that the mind is a creation of the environment and thus not the "true" self. They encourage meditation to get in touch with what they believe is the empirical you that eminates from a spiritual realm. Some see the spiritual realm as being "beyond matter" while others see it as a universe of "less dense matter". They all tend to throw around a lot of quotes from quantum physicists and some like to suggest that the spiritual realm is another dimension and they cite string and M theory. The real quantum physicists I know avoid such talk like plague.

 

 

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."


Atheistextremist
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Nice post Marty

 

Enjoyed the responses, too. The opaqueness surrounding self, moral behaviour, et al, always seems to me to appeal to complexity, even though it's often extremely well dressed. 

Despite the fact believers cannot define or prove their assertions, they use what is not or cannot be known to make a space for their beliefs. 

Self awareness is a fascinating business. 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck