Saturday, 17 January 2015

Do non-human animals have a "life after death"?

Philosophical materialists tend to implicitly suppose I believe only human beings survive their deaths and no other animals.  But I do not view this as being remotely plausible.  I presume a dog's brain is very similar to a human being's, albeit less complex.  If only human beings have an afterlife this means that a dog's brain produces consciousness, but that a human being's brain does not -- the human being's brain merely "filters" the self or consciousness (see my essay here on the notion of the brain acting as a "filter" for the self).  But surely the similarity between our brains and dogs brains suggests they perform a similar function irrespective of whether this function is producing or merely "filtering" consciousness? Moreover, if one brain produces and the other brain merely "filters" consciousness, then it seems to me that it ought to be the more complex brain which produces consciousness!

There is another consideration.  If we exist both before conception and after death (and I argue for this contention here), this at least opens up the possibility that there is some ultimate purpose to our existence.  By ultimate purpose I mean something over and above the meaning we ourselves bestow on our lives.  The word "purpose" connotes the idea that we have some ultimate teleological destiny (see here where I propose this).

But if only human beings survive their deaths, this means only our lives could have this ultimate purpose, and that other animals whose intelligence is not too far behind our own, for example dolphins, apes and elephants, do not have any such ultimate purpose.  But why would human beings be special in this way?   Taking both considerations into account I'm afraid I can't make much sense of this notion that only human beings survive their deaths and no other animals.

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