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Nothingness after death - As uncertain as afterlife

I have talked to Christians who said that if there is only decomposition after death, if this is 100% proven without a doubt then they would kill themselves to get the hell out of this genetic rat race.

Then they are fatalists, and it doesn't bother me in the least if they commit suicide. Society could do without fatalists; their apathy is cancerous.

I find this reply to be kind of odd. It seems like these Christians take the view that matters of transcendence beyond the physical (afterlife, the soul, God) have certain very important implications for axiological and, by implication (I suppose), normative matters. Their idea seems to be that the lack of, e.g., a spiritual afterlife, would entail the falsity of positive value and normative claims. It seems that your reply here relies heavily on some presupposition to the effect that "fatalism bad, non-fatalism good." But in this context that seems question-begging. It's like the non-Christian's reply in the following hypothetical exchange:

Christian: "If the whole of existence is ultimately nothing more than matter impinging on other matter, then nothing ultimately has any intrinsic value, so I'm just going to go kick people in the face for fun.'

Non-Christian: "But if you did that, you would be an asshole. You shouldn't be an asshole."

Of course, maybe you're just making some statement about your preferences and are not trying to adduce some kind of argument. If that's the case, then, well, whatev...

I have talked to Christians who said that if there is only decomposition after death, if this is 100% proven without a doubt then they would kill themselves to get the hell out of this genetic rat race.

Then they are fatalists, and it doesn't bother me in the least if they commit suicide. Society could do without fatalists; their apathy is cancerous.

I find this reply to be kind of odd. It seems like these Christians take the view that matters of transcendence beyond the physical (afterlife, the soul, God) have certain very important implications for axiological and, by implication (I suppose), normative matters. Their idea seems to be that the lack of, e.g., a spiritual afterlife, would entail the falsity of positive value and normative claims. It seems that your reply here relies heavily on some presupposition to the effect that "fatalism bad, non-fatalism good." But in this context that seems question-begging. It's like the non-Christian's reply in the following hypothetical exchange:

Christian: "If the whole of existence is ultimately nothing more than matter impinging on other matter, then nothing ultimately has any intrinsic value, so I'm just going to go kick people in the face for fun.'

Non-Christian: "But if you did that, you would be an asshole. You shouldn't be an asshole."

Of course, maybe you're just making some statement about your preferences and are not trying to adduce some kind of argument. If that's the case, then, well, whatev...

I agree with the "non-Christian" (misnomer here) in your example. The lack of some personal god and afterlife doesn't matter. What matters is how one acts in society: does the person contribute, or is he a leech?

Additionally, it's rather pitiful if someone needs a god or afterlife to keep them from killing themselves and/or harming others.

Nothing matters.  Things matter to humans: that much we can say.  We build up these intricate meanings, purposes, goals, etc., but none of these can be found in reality (which is one way to suggest the incorporeality of the mind).

Certainly, when the brain decays, "I" dies.

Nothing matters.  Things matter to humans: that much we can say.  We build up these intricate meanings, purposes, goals, etc., but none of these can be found in reality (which is one way to suggest the incorporeality of the mind).

Certainly, when the brain decays, "I" dies.

Quite. I harbour a lot of resistence to engaging with people on a nihilist forum who cannot even bring themselves to begin from this pretty obvious (but profound) starting point.

At times, the meaning we create may need to be more compelling than "real", especially if this meaning is to be distributed to the more apathetic among us.

Nothing matters.  Things matter to humans: that much we can say.  We build up these intricate meanings, purposes, goals, etc., but none of these can be found in reality (which is one way to suggest the incorporeality of the mind).

This, too, is a belief.

I don't think it makes any sense to proclaim oneself a nihilist and then cling to hypothetical definitions.

We don't know our role in the universe.

We do know that there is no inherent meaning, or in other words, that we must discover meaning as it exists; it is not passed to us from a pure dualistic state.

Beyond that, you're into conjecture that is every bit as religious as dualism.

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Certainly, when the brain decays, "I" dies.

Also not clear and not proven. Let's stick to the literal.

We will not win the debate against the dualists by duplicating their faulty metaphysical logic in materialist form.

Nothing matters.  Things matter to humans: that much we can say.  We build up these intricate meanings, purposes, goals, etc., but none of these can be found in reality (which is one way to suggest the incorporeality of the mind).

This, too, is a belief.

I don't think it makes any sense to proclaim oneself a nihilist and then cling to hypothetical definitions.

We don't know our role in the universe.

We do know that there is no inherent meaning, or in other words, that we must discover meaning as it exists; it is not passed to us from a pure dualistic state.

Beyond that, you're into conjecture that is every bit as religious as dualism.

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Certainly, when the brain decays, "I" dies.

Also not clear and not proven. Let's stick to the literal.

We will not win the debate against the dualists by duplicating their faulty metaphysical logic in materialist form.

I'm sorry but this is simply wrong, Conservationist. Your point is that (1) meaning not existing and (2) consciousness being attached to the physical brain are both mere hypotheses, and that it would be just as dishonest to claim that we know with 100 per cent certainty that they are true as it would be to claim that we knhow with certainty that they are false.

This reminds me of the debate with dualists about the afterlife. "The afterlife doesn't exist", the atheist will proclaim. "How can you know", the theist will retort. Well, we can't know with a priori CERTAINTY. But this morbid focus on philosophy at the expense of inference to the best explanation (i.e. SCIENCE) is like trying to dig a hole with a fork. Philosophy is the wrong tool here. Using inference to the best explanation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abductive_reasoning), and inducing from the facts that we currently have and that we can be sure about, it is only intellectually dishonest to maintain the the "Let's stick to the literal line"....that therefore there is nothing normatively wrong with holding that "we don't know our role in the universe" and 'when the brain dies I do not necessary decay'. We have FACTS which PARTIALLY point to our role in the universe as vehicles for the propogation of SELFISH GENES (darwinism, genetics, logic). We have FACTS which PARTIALLY point to the conclusion that when our brains die, we die... i.e. that the sense of self is nothing but physical brain processes (drugs, comas, anesthetics, depression, neural pathologies where a certain part of the brain is not function and you forget the words for tools and not animals, you can't recognise faces, memories dissapear on and on)

Live with it, suck it in, and move on. You create your own purpose, and this purpose only matters to you and people like you, and when you and these people die/crumble/cease to exist/snuff it, the universe won't give a wet fart for it. So better you work all the harder for it while you're alive to value it.

"Meaning" is an abstraction, which is why it's not inherent to the universe, although we can know for certain what is our worth as individuals, what our skills are and how can this be useful to others, and that's as close as we can get on reaching meaning for our lives. But the thing is, none of the aforementioned depend on any way on us, since our abilities are inborn. There might be a purpose, although we don't give it to ourselves.

I must insist on the fact that the "I" is the expression of our self-consciousness. When we die, the brain stops functioning for good, so there's no longer any consciousness, therefore no longer an "I". But something undoubtedly remains, since there's not such thing in the universe as an absolute annihilation. Whatever this "something" is, we don't know and we can never know, because without consciousness there's no longer the possibility of knowledge remaining, nor an existence in the sense that we conceive of it.

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Live with it, suck it in, and move on. You create your own purpose, and this purpose only matters to you and people like you, and when you and these people die/crumble/cease to exist/snuff it, the universe won't give a wet fart for it. So better you work all the harder for it while you're alive to value it.

I'll say it again... we don't create our own purposes. All that defines our roles in life are innate. Our skills, our tendencies, our characters, everything. On the other hand, fate decides the course of our lives, and this goes on without us wanting it. We all have our destiny sealed since before we were even born, although we flatter ourselves in believing that we have free will for anything besides accepting what we are. It makes sense, then, to know ourselves, to know what our strenghts and our weaknesses are, and embrace the fate that was imposed on us, since only then can we be something for others (which are parts, like us, of the universe), and not just for ourselves.  


Well, we can't know with a priori CERTAINTY.

Exactly. And dancing around that is dishonest, especially until science knows more than the paucity of information it has received so far.

Phoenix

We know for certain there's no such thing as an omnipotent god, too bad Christians don't listen to me on that one, lol... omnipotence would by definition include the freedom of will to totally transcend the very identity which would wield the omnipotence in the first place, thus cancelling it out. Also we know time started at one place because if time ran both forwards and backwards that's impossible, so if the tail end at the beginning of time is not constantly regressing further back, then it must be static, in place at an original beginning (time is a PROCESS, you can't just say eternity magically goes backwards forever disappearing into 'infinity' that's a complete logical farce). I would argue a priori that therefore if something arose from nothing the only conclusion is ala Eastern spirituality that Emptiness is the fundamental nature of consciousness and existence. Once we have basic a priori truths like this then we can make deductions from them, the deductions may not be a priori per se but they're based on infallible premises so they are infallible themselves, that's how I know there's life after death for me (based on what I just said here plus more concepts and also based on my experiences combined).

Is the question at all important? Does it have any implications for how we experience life?

If you are alive for literally forever after death, even potentially, then this tiny tiny life is the thing that becomes hardly important, and it's wise during this life to plan for the long-term; it's also wise to value this life and not be consumed by all-pervading ambitions and appointments, after all you will never be living your eternal existence except for a tiny sliver at a time every instant.

Well, we can't know with a priori CERTAINTY.

Exactly. And dancing around that is dishonest, especially until science knows more than the paucity of information it has received so far.

Haha. But you can't know with a priori certainty that the external world even exists! Is it dishonest to dance around this and live my life according to inference to the best explanation, that the people i experience are real entities outside of imagination, and 'non-rationally' denounce solipsism? You need to get on in life... you need to take a stand, a position.

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Live with it, suck it in, and move on. You create your own purpose, and this purpose only matters to you and people like you, and when you and these people die/crumble/cease to exist/snuff it, the universe won't give a wet fart for it. So better you work all the harder for it while you're alive to value it.

I'll say it again... we don't create our own purposes. All that defines our roles in life are innate. Our skills, our tendencies, our characters, everything. On the other hand, fate decides the course of our lives, and this goes on without us wanting it. We all have our destiny sealed since before we were even born, although we flatter ourselves in believing that we have free will for anything besides accepting what we are. It makes sense, then, to know ourselves, to know what our strenghts and our weaknesses are, and embrace the fate that was imposed on us, since only then can we be something for others (which are parts, like us, of the universe), and not just for ourselves.  

I agree with you here for the most part

Nothing matters.  Things matter to humans: that much we can say.  We build up these intricate meanings, purposes, goals, etc., but none of these can be found in reality (which is one way to suggest the incorporeality of the mind).

This, too, is a belief.

I don't think it makes any sense to proclaim oneself a nihilist and then cling to hypothetical definitions.

We don't know our role in the universe.

We do know that there is no inherent meaning, or in other words, that we must discover meaning as it exists; it is not passed to us from a pure dualistic state.

Beyond that, you're into conjecture that is every bit as religious as dualism.

Quote
Certainly, when the brain decays, "I" dies.

Also not clear and not proven. Let's stick to the literal.

We will not win the debate against the dualists by duplicating their faulty metaphysical logic in materialist form.

I'm sorry but this is simply wrong, Conservationist. Your point is that (1) meaning not existing and (2) consciousness being attached to the physical brain are both mere hypotheses, and that it would be just as dishonest to claim that we know with 100 per cent certainty that they are true as it would be to claim that we knhow with certainty that they are false.

This reminds me of the debate with dualists about the afterlife. "The afterlife doesn't exist", the atheist will proclaim. "How can you know", the theist will retort. Well, we can't know with a priori CERTAINTY. But this morbid focus on philosophy at the expense of inference to the best explanation (i.e. SCIENCE) is like trying to dig a hole with a fork. Philosophy is the wrong tool here. Using inference to the best explanation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abductive_reasoning), and inducing from the facts that we currently have and that we can be sure about, it is only intellectually dishonest to maintain the the "Let's stick to the literal line"....that therefore there is nothing normatively wrong with holding that "we don't know our role in the universe" and 'when the brain dies I do not necessary decay'. We have FACTS which PARTIALLY point to our role in the universe as vehicles for the propogation of SELFISH GENES (darwinism, genetics, logic). We have FACTS which PARTIALLY point to the conclusion that when our brains die, we die... i.e. that the sense of self is nothing but physical brain processes (drugs, comas, anesthetics, depression, neural pathologies where a certain part of the brain is not function and you forget the words for tools and not animals, you can't recognise faces, memories dissapear on and on)

Live with it, suck it in, and move on. You create your own purpose, and this purpose only matters to you and people like you, and when you and these people die/crumble/cease to exist/snuff it, the universe won't give a wet fart for it. So better you work all the harder for it while you're alive to value it.
this is probably the hardest to swallow truth of humanity.

There is no proof that consciousness is only attached to the brain. And for me, there is no evidence too: You say that just because I have not experienced something it does not mean it is not that way (in that case, the absence of consciousness after death). But in this case to experience the thing in question would be the only way. When a person dies, no one that is living can know what it's like. Some people CLAIM that it all goes null, but saying that all the evidence point to that I don't agree, because no one knows how it is to be deprived of brain activity. Perhaps people who were technically dead and came back, but I'm not getting into this.

And also I have presented the problem of the coming into being of consciousness: If consciousness does not exist outside of nervous system, then before the first nervous system was formed, there was no kind of perception at all on earth? That means that perception popped out of nowhere, after years of evolution, in one moment, creating perception with the coming of the nervous system, generating all perception in that small moment? Or is it more likely that it already existed before in some other form?

If after death there is no perception because of the absence of functioning nervous system, should we then think that before the coming of the nervous system on earth, all that existed was in a state similar to death?

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this is probably the hardest to swallow truth of humanity.


What, that SCIENCE is the best for humanity? I don't let scientists rule the way I think.

We know for certain there's no such thing as an omnipotent god, too bad Christians don't listen to me on that one, lol... omnipotence would by definition include the freedom of will to totally transcend the very identity which would wield the omnipotence in the first place, thus cancelling it out.

What do you mean by "totally transcend the very identity which would wield the omnipotence in the first place"? There are basically two ways you could think of an omipotent being transcending its own identity in such a way that it "cancels out" its omnipotence: (1) Such a being becomes more than maximally powerful; (2) Such a being becomes less than maximally powerful.

(1) is a logical impossibility. I don't see why one would have to conceive of omnipotence in such a way that "x is omnipotent" entails that "x can do things that are logically impossible." Lots of Christians conceive of God's omnipotence as the power to do absolutely anything that's not logically impossible.

(2) does nothing to undermine God's omnipotence. How would being able to become less than omnipotent undermine an omnipotent being's omnipotence? If I'm ignorant but am able to become less ignorant, that does not show that I'm not now ignorant.

If you don't have either (1) or (2) in mind, then what do you have in mind?