Sunday, 30 April 2017

The claim that people who have had a "near death experience" are not dead.

People keep saying that NDE's necessarily cannot provide any evidence for an afterlife, since those who underwent the experience didn't really die. Presumably, the idea here is that if they didn't actually die, then whatever they experienced, cannot be of any afterlife realm.

There are two issues here. The first issue is, how do they know these people never actually died? When asked this question, they say it's true by definition! They returned to life, and anyone who returns to life, by definition, never actually died.

But I submit, this then makes their original assertion vacuous. The issue here is whether it is possible that what NDErs experience is a glimpse of some afterlife realm. Such a possibility can only be ruled out if we are in a position to surmise their brains are perfectly capable of having wholly produced these experiences. But, if during an NDE, there is no detectable brain activity, or there is insufficient brain activity, then it matters not one whit whether one labels this as still being "alive" or dead. From a metaphysical neutral standpoint, the most straightforward hypothesis under this scenario is that those undergoing an NDE are perceiving some type of external reality, even though the details seen might be shaped and moulded by one's implicit and cultural expectations. Of course, it might be contested whether the NDE really occurred during this time period, or it can be argued that there might have been undetectable brain activity that produced the experience. But it remains the case that this experience does provide evidence for an afterlife realm -- non-scientific evidence, perhaps, but evidence nevertheless. And this evidence could be very powerful if we have good reasons to surmise the NDE indeed occurred when there was no detectable brain activity.

The second issue is that, in any case, it's not entirely clear to me why a person couldn't experience the afterlife realm whilst still alive. And I mean alive in the proper sense, as in some detectable brain activity. If we are destined to travel to some afterlife realm(s) at death, then whilst still alive it presumably must be the brain that prevents the perception of this realm or realms. Perhaps it is some particular region of the brain that does this. If this region is compromised in its functionality, or is simply not as active as it normally is, then perhaps one could still be alive and yet have some perception of this other reality or realities. If the skeptic wants to maintain that this is impossible, the onus is upon him to explain why.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Who am I?

Worth watching for those who know nothing about philosophy.

What is it that makes me me throughout my life? We might say the self, but what is the self? My body changes throughout my life. My interests, intelligence, pre-occupations and so on change throughout my life.  So shouldn't my self too literally change throughout my life?

In order for the self not to literally change and avoid the conclusion I am literally a different person at time A than at time B, then the self has to be something distinct from all these things. I suggest the self is the author, or the experiencer, of one's thoughts, interests, and more generally of one's experiences. That is to say that in addition to experiences, there is an experiencer that has them.  Experiences don't just exist without an experiencer, or self, to experience them. It is this author/experiencer/self that we can hypothesize remains unchanged.

Note that materialists can not believe in such an
author/experiencer/self.  This is because the materialist would have to identify any such self with some physical thing or processes.  But physical things and processes are in a constant state of change, and certainly our bodies are.  Hence, there is nothing unchanging which they can call a self.

They can of course believe in a sense of self.  But the sense of a self differs from the actual self in a similar way to which a sense of a table differs from the actual table.

See the following blog entries by me:

Is a "life after death" conceivable?   Part 3: What is the Self

Does the self as opposed to a mere "sense of self" exist?
The self and its experiences

Often it's extremely hard to decide what is the rational thing to believe.

It's extraordinarily difficult for most of us to decide what the truth is on many contentious issues. Will we witness catastrophic clima...

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