Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Immortality

(Socrates drinks the hemlock while arguing for the immortality of the soul.)

We have discussed immortality here. In this post, I will try to summarize the subject.

Jainism/Samkhya-Yoga:
reincarnating souls transcending intellect.

Greek philosophy:
reincarnating souls identical with intellect.

The New Testament:
resurrected bodies.

Christian doctrine:
resurrected bodies reunited with nonreincarnating souls identical with intellect.

My education included both Christian doctrine and philosophical arguments for the immortality of souls. I discuss the philosophy of minds and brains here. I would once have said something like:

there is a qualitative difference between, on the one hand, rational processes and, on the other hand, mechanical interactions between particles with only the quantifiable properties of mass and volume;

therefore, reason occurs not in the brain but in an immaterial, therefore immortal, mind or soul interacting with the brain.

Such arguments were attempts to rationalize my education. We do not understand brains but we do know that cerebral processes are more and other than mechanical interactions. Organism-environment interactions generated consciousness. Action on environments involved thinking about them. Somehow the brain does it.

5 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I still don't believe in any form of materialism. But, with your permission, I'll forward this to Mr. Wright, in case he is willing to comment. Esp. on your last paragraph.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
OK.
Paul.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Wright's response, received by email, asked for clearer definitions of terms used. In the last paragraph of the post: I used to think that the only philosophical alternatives were a reductionist mechanical materialism or a mind-body dualism. Now I think that materialism need not be mechanical or reductionist although we do not (yet) understand cerebral processes. I think that material organisms became increasingly sensitive to their environments, then conscious of them. Thus, I do not think that consciousness requires an immaterial soul. Further, I think that, when proto-human beings began to manipulate and change their environment, their material brains began to analyze and think about that environment. Therefore, I do not think that rational thought requires an immaterial soul.

Paul Shackley said...

I suppose that we sometimes use abstract terminology as a short-hand for our own philosophical views without realizing how little those terms might convey to others.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks for your response to Mr. Wright's comments, which you received via email. I hope he has seen these further comments of yours.

Sean