The soul

ParanoidAgnostic
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The soul

Even though I identify as an atheist, a part of me believes there is something eternal in my self, that I will not cease to exist at the moment I die. It is not the logical part of me. It's just a feeling and I know that it can easily be explained away by science (there's no evolutionary advantage in animals understanding that they will die so it makes sense that the idea of me ever not existing is a difficult one to accept). While I don't accept christainity (It has never made sense to me) I have at various times considered pantheism, buddhism or wicca to be viable options (that we are all part of god, or that we keep being reincarnated until we figure things out makes sense to me philosophically) Recently, that -I guess you could call it- hope has been severely injured by thinking about the function of the brain.

Our emotions, which I think from a spritial point of view would be the most important part of our selves, are controlled by chemicals. We can alter these emotions by medication. This shows that my self is totally controled by my physical brain. Where does the soul fit?

Psychopaths are born with the inability to feel emotion in the same way as most people. This can be explained by brain structure and function. How would the soul fit in?

And what about people who suffer brain injuries (or degenerative brain conditions). In the afterlife, is their full intellect restored? or is their soul also affected? If the soul is not affected then why can they no longer think as they once did?

 

Another part of my (completely illogical) faith is that there seems to be some force protecting me. At many times when things could have gone horribly wrong and put me into a situation I could not deal with, events have gone against probability (atleast by my thinking) to save me from that possiblity. More and more I'm realising though that this does not make any sense. There are so many people who are not saved from those situations sometimes events even go against them in extrarodinarily unlikely ways.

 

I've seen some very inteligent believers post here and I would just like to know how they deal with the dilemmas. I'm not issuing this as a challenge to your own faith. I may however argue against your points because I know how much I want to believe in something like an eternal soul and I must defend my rational mind from being given over to that desire. That aside, I would sincerely like to be convinced that I'm wrong, or atleast be given some doubt.

 

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


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Yeah, your faith is totally

Yeah, your faith is totally irrational and illogical. The question is, with that knowledge in mind, do you still want to keep it?


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ParanoidAgnostic

ParanoidAgnostic wrote:
It's just a feeling and I know that it can easily be explained away by science (there's no evolutionary advantage in animals understanding that they will die so it makes sense that the idea of me ever not existing is a difficult one to accept).

Actually, I suspect that our expectation of our own transcendence comes from our natural fear of death, as a coping mechanism. Because we are acutely aware of death, we come up with belief systems which appeal to people by getting around it. But you're right in that such belief is completely irrational.

Honestly, I don't see any true dilemma's here; just a passionate, and understandable, desire to escape mortality. I can't offer you any hope there, other than to suggest that once you confront mortality rather than hiding from it, it becomes easier to deal with the idea of dieing. But the concept of a soul is badly broken, and there is no reason to believe in any mechanism for eternal life.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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The reason for the creation

The reason for the creation of the soul is the very real fear we all face - not of death, but of non-existance.  Humans are very afraid of not being, of not existing, of the conciousness they experience never happening.  We as humans hold on to the idea of the soul in hopes that there is some eternal part of our conciousness, that our minds are not totally linked to our bodies, and that there is some type of life after death.

I too hope that my conciousness will survive beyond my death.  However, I have no reason to believe so at this time.  So I continue my life believing that this is all I have.  If I do find evidence of an eternal soul, though, I will be the first to tell you.

I hope that when the world comes to an end I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.


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in this day and age we

in this day and age we really should know better than to trust our feelings and instincts, although i admit the notion of a soul is very inticing but then that means that there are an infinite amount of conciousnesses troughout the universe, (seeing as there would have been an infinte amount of intelligent civillisations).


ParanoidAgnostic
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Quote: Yeah, your faith is

Quote:

Yeah, your faith is totally irrational and illogical. The question is, with that knowledge in mind, do you still want to keep it?

That depends on the price

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


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If there is anything to our

If there is anything to our knowledge which constitutes a soul it is our consciousness. In terms of mortality there is some small comfort in just the truth that the consciousness isn't fully understood, there is room for surprises, yet. 

Consciousness is the conglomerate interactivity of the psyche, just judging by how imaginative and fertile the soil of a psyche can be makes imt kin to a universe in and of itself, which goes to why we have some troubling understanding it, but moreover, that favours a similar truth existing for both consciousness and the universe. Consciousness could very well be much bigger than life with its quite huge, and ever evolving, internal degrees of freedom, like a universe. But does it hang around when the lights go out? Well the problem with knowing that or not isn't a matter really for a theory of consciousness, at all. It has much more to do with our understanding of death itself.

Our concept of death is almost purely biological, it's not heavily grounded in other sciences. If it was we'd have very different ideas of death. For example, if death was considered in pure chemical terms then we would probably frame it essentially as carbon recycling and see it much like it was seen in some ancient tribal cultures, a natural sharing of the material of life where our ancestors literally lived on in the grass that grew from their bodies. If we viewed it in pure physics terms, then for many years in history we'd have though that some transcendent part of us always existed in the ether (well actually we did for a long time), and more recently, we wouldn't really have a concept of death at all, we'd look at it in a similar way to how we see TV transmission, at death some comparitive image of us would carry over on a universal signal in scrambled form, to perhaps be unscrambled again by a reciever in another universe in another time... in pure physics terms death is quite clouded and we couldn't understand it that way so well and also avoid strange and unreasonable superstition creeping in.  In terms of death, we have three seemingly incompatible probabilities in science, so to keep it neat and practical our only coherent and well known idea is basically biological.

In essence death confuses us even more than consciouness, and both are necessary for the answer to this question of an eternal soul.  

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Hi ParanoidAgnostic,

Hi ParanoidAgnostic,

It's refreshing to see someone who is honestly questioning things, rather than dogmatically asserting an atheistic (or theistic) approach. You've raised some very interesting points.

One thing I think you should keep in mind is that theism (or something close to it) is logically consistent with the view that humans do not have souls. In fact, several contemporary theistic philosophers I know of are thoroughgoing materialists about humans (and most of these philosophers describe themselves as Christians!). So, it may be that humans don't have a soul-like substance inside of them; but that alone should not close us off to the possibility that some sort of utlimate mind or God exists.

Moreover, it might not be so obvious that certain forms of dualism are precluded by science. Many scientific philosophers (both theists and naturalists) defend dualism. Some think that evolutionary processes gave rise to organisms with nervous systems that reached a level of organizational complexity sufficient to generate consciousness, as well as nonphysical centers (or subjects) of that consciousness. This is roughly the view of emergentist dualists. You raise the obvious point that personalities and emotions seem so dependent on the brain. Every dualist I know of would readily admit this. (They would not use the language of "controlled by" but they'd use the language of "influenced by".) This is because they don't think the soul is a collection of personality traits or emotions to begin with. Many think, rather, that it's the subject of those experiences.

But defending different versions of dualism is a side-issue. The main point is that one need not be a dualist to believe in some form of theism (or even the afterlife). What I would suggest -- strongly -- is that you read some of the literature philosophers of mind have recently published about this issue; getting the opinions of people on a website like this can only take you so far toward intelligent feedback. Some books to check out:

The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers

The Emergent Self, William Hasker

Saving Belief, Lynn Baker

 

Hope this helps.

 

Gavagai

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The soul is a quantum level

The soul is a quantum level imprint on the cosmic foam.

 

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Eloise
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Gavagai wrote: Hi

Gavagai wrote:

Hi ParanoidAgnostic,

It's refreshing to see someone who is honestly questioning things, rather than dogmatically asserting an atheistic (or theistic) approach. You've raised some very interesting points.

One thing I think you should keep in mind is that theism (or something close to it) is logically consistent with the view that humans do not have souls. In fact, several contemporary theistic philosophers I know of are thoroughgoing materialists about humans (and most of these philosophers describe themselves as Christians!). So, it may be that humans don't have a soul-like substance inside of them; but that alone should not close us off to the possibility that some sort of utlimate mind or God exists.

Moreover, it might not be so obvious that certain forms of dualism are precluded by science. Many scientific philosophers (both theists and naturalists) defend dualism. Some think that evolutionary processes gave rise to organisms with nervous systems that reached a level of organizational complexity sufficient to generate consciousness, as well as nonphysical centers (or subjects) of that consciousness. This is roughly the view of emergentist dualists. You raise the obvious point that personalities and emotions seem so dependent on the brain. Every dualist I know of would readily admit this. (They would not use the language of "controlled by" but they'd use the language of "influenced by".) This is because they don't think the soul is a collection of personality traits or emotions to begin with. Many think, rather, that it's the subject of those experiences.

But defending different versions of dualism is a side-issue. The main point is that one need not be a dualist to believe in some form of theism (or even the afterlife). What I would suggest -- strongly -- is that you read some of the literature philosophers of mind have recently published about this issue; getting the opinions of people on a website like this can only take you so far toward intelligent feedback. Some books to check out:

The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers

The Emergent Self, William Hasker

Saving Belief, Lynn Baker

 

Hope this helps.

 

Gavagai

Neat Gavagai. Thanks for posting. 

for paranoidagnostic:

http://consc.net/papers/2dargument.html

 

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ParanoidAgnostic

ParanoidAgnostic wrote:

Even though I identify as an atheist, a part of me believes there is something eternal in my self, that I will not cease to exist at the moment I die.

Well, why wouldn't you believe that. I mean, what experience do you have of not existing?

All life seeks to survive, its what allows us to live in the first place. Even some people who commit suicide do so to have a lasting influence of some sort, on others. 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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ParanoidAgnostic

ParanoidAgnostic wrote:

Quote:

Yeah, your faith is totally irrational and illogical. The question is, with that knowledge in mind, do you still want to keep it?

That depends on the price

A ticket costs only your mind. 


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Thankyou Eloise, you were

Thankyou Eloise, you were one of the theists I was hoping would respond. I would like to know how you would respond to the idea that any sense of self is an illusion. Each moment we are just a state. Our memories create the sense of a continuous experience but infact we essentially die every moment, replaced by another state, that is convinced it is us due to having the memories created by our current state and previous states.

This came up in an argument about teleportation. I would think that the only way to achieve it would be to destroy the original and create a copy. Would the copy be any less you than you before you stepped into the teleporter? It would have memories telling it that it had lived your life, how does that differ from what you have now? What id you did noy destroy the original? If both are you has your consiousness (soul) now split, or has a new one been created for the copy?

I think this is relevant because it is esentially the same as my previous question. Are we more than the chemicals and electrical signals in our brains?

 

Gavagai

Quote:
It's refreshing to see someone who is honestly questioning things, rather than dogmatically asserting an atheistic (or theistic) approach.

I don't think there is anything noble in my question. I really don't want what I believe to turn out to be true. Atheists would say I'm trying to hide from reality, and giving theists evidence for their "noone is really an atheist" argument. Theists might say I'm trying to believe for the wrong reasons and only providing evidence for the atheist argument "Religion exists because we fear death". Both opinions would be valid critisisms of my current state. This is me at my weakest.

  

Quote:

One thing I think you should keep in mind is that theism (or something close to it) is logically consistent with the view that humans do not have souls. In fact, several contemporary theistic philosophers I know of are thoroughgoing materialists about humans (and most of these philosophers describe themselves as Christians!). So, it may be that humans don't have a soul-like substance inside of them; but that alone should not close us off to the possibility that some sort of utlimate mind or God exists.

To me that seems like the worst of both worlds. Finite existence and supernatural beings playing games with us. Naturally that doesn't make it wrong, it just doesn't help with my existential angst. Although I suppose it would give me someone to be mad at about the deal we get.

Quote:

Moreover, it might not be so obvious that certain forms of dualism are precluded by science. Many scientific philosophers (both theists and naturalists) defend dualism. Some think that evolutionary processes gave rise to organisms with nervous systems that reached a level of organizational complexity sufficient to generate consciousness, as well as nonphysical centers (or subjects) of that consciousness. This is roughly the view of emergentist dualists. You raise the obvious point that personalities and emotions seem so dependent on the brain. Every dualist I know of would readily admit this. (They would not use the language of "controlled by" but they'd use the language of "influenced by".) This is because they don't think the soul is a collection of personality traits or emotions to begin with. Many think, rather, that it's the subject of those experiences.

I'm just going to repeat back what I think you're saying to see if I understand your point. Correct me if I've got it wrong.

The soul experiences things, but the experience is not of the phsyical world interacting with our senses but of the mind.

The mind is our thoughts, memories, emotions and information about the physical world, which are dependent on the physical reality of our brains and it's connection to the senses.

The soul is the essence of consiousness but does not have traits like emotion and intellect, It only experiences these within the mind.

I will attempt to locate those books. Thanks for the point of view.

 

I've tended to accept my own contradiction (symultaneously believing in the soul and not believeing in the soul) because of DesCartes - "I think, therefore I am". All I can be certain of is my own existence. As an individual being my senses do not necessarily carry more weight than my feelings. Infact the moment after first thinking this I was certain I could hear the voice of something, other than me, in my head tell me "Now you've got it".

The problem I'm having now is that the physical reality (experienced through the senses) can explain the emotional reality. Even my experience of "the voice of god" can be explained away. The reverse does not seem so true. How could the reality I experience through my feelings explain what I see and touch? This seems to tip the balance too much in favor if the physical.

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


ParanoidAgnostic
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Quote: A ticket costs only

Quote:
A ticket costs only your mind.

Will you take an IOU? I'll hand the mind over when I'm finished with it.

Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. I'm-My-Own-Grandpa!


Eloise
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ParanoidAgnostic

ParanoidAgnostic wrote:

Thankyou Eloise, you were one of the theists I was hoping would respond. I would like to know how you would respond to the idea that any sense of self is an illusion. Each moment we are just a state. Our memories create the sense of a continuous experience but infact we essentially die every moment, replaced by another state, that is convinced it is us due to having the memories created by our current state and previous states.

Hi again, thanks for the compliment.

I think it's probably not most useful to look too hard from the angle of 'dying' each moment, for one, it probably happens more frequently than what we generally think of as moments LOL, but most of all it conflates one uncertainity with another, clearly not the way to proceed. 

To answer your question, no I don't think any sense of self is an illusion but some are illusionary to a degree, or at least in a certain frame of reference. Nothing is inherently wrong with our normal observation of "I" "Here", it just has more compound definition to it, I think it is good to remember that our normal sense of self still works virtually the same as always so I'll mention it.

 

 

Quote:

This came up in an argument about teleportation. I would think that the only way to achieve it would be to destroy the original and create a copy. Would the copy be any less you than you before you stepped into the teleporter? It would have memories telling it that it had lived your life, how does that differ from what you have now? What id you did noy destroy the original? If both are you has your consiousness (soul) now split, or has a new one been created for the copy?

We can't be absolutely sure moment to moment that our self is put back together congruently, but we can be fairly certain that it is consistent enough in the "middle", so to speak. The self-state system exists (in one easy to visualise way we can assume) as a wave form. For an idea of how that works you can refer to the Hawking model of the Universe wave function. 

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/6929/Image51.gif

 Replace 'universe' with 'self' in the picture, and imagine that the wave extends in both directions around the central state for near infinite proportions.  Now you can see how the self must be relatively consistent, it is being 'held together' by a really large contingent of not self's. So when you 'step out' for a moment, if a large enough proportion of the rest of the wave isn't doing so at exactly the same interval, you remain the same not-self that they rely on to exist. So then all your self bits naturally fall back into the contigency space held open for you by the rest of yourself. 

 It seems very much like we can count on this system to keep our macro-reality fairly consistent for a good stretch each 'side' of us in space-time, and for all intents and purposes we assume that to be true anyway, or else exactly what are we doing even thinking about it? Sticking out tongue But also, the wave state self has to allow for the real change that we percieve happening, and so there must be some movement in the shape somewhere, something must transform in some way. Then our coherent sense of self at best can only stretch a certain distance each 'side' of central us, at some distinct point it must change not-selfs as we change and carry over that change across a partially determined space-time distance. Determinations of this nature take us into gauge territory which is probably not applicable to this discussion so I'll leave it there. At least for the time being we can assume comfortably that a consistent self is a real reality. Any change that was really dramatic would happen far in our past or future in our terms (or at far distant multiverses) over graduated steps (just like classical Smiling ) so we can count on basic causality in macro reality for the time being, and this only means that we can assume more possibility and conceivability is true as well, especially at 'distant' points from our "core" self. 

I'm not quite up with the latest and greatest on teleportation, myself. My first interest here is the metaphysics of classical reality and quantum reality, and the underlying geometry. I'm not sure where teleportation is going right now, but this is my view. A teleported self would necessarily need to fulfill all of the above. In a sense that means that your not-self would have to "agree" to meet you halfway by 'allowing' you to recombine in the second location (it needent necessarily be a "conscious" agreement).  It's conceivable that with that aspect of the issue well in hand the copy of you would be exactly the same you. On the other hand without this agreement a copy of you can be made, but it might not be the same you, if it wasn't then it wouldn't be the same not-you's either, which could conceivably just send you to another universe altogether. 

 There is a lot of subtle shuffling involved in the concept of self that the multiverse raises, and it could well be that death and change are equivalencies as per some Pagan mythologies, death may just be another shuffling that leaves the conscious space in this universe 'empty', but that's almost pure speculation so don't quote me. Eye-wink It that were so it would look a little like the teleportation event where the copy is sent to another universe.  

 

 

Quote:

I think this is relevant because it is esentially the same as my previous question. Are we more than the chemicals and electrical signals in our brains?

 

This is still a hard question. Dualism is not dead ,yet, we may be more, but we may be just looking at monism through too many lenses as well. It's a valid debate at least, so for the time being either way is perfectly alright, it's also good to understand how strong both sides are and where and how they reach impasse, of course.  

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Yellow_Number_Five
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wavefreak wrote: The soul

wavefreak wrote:

The soul is a quantum level imprint on the cosmic foam.

 

See. I can make up shit too.Money mouth Send money to www.wavefreakrules.com

LMFAO.

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