What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

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Ceisiwr
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What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by Ceisiwr » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:22 pm

No one denies that consciousness is a hard problem. But before we reify consciousness to the level of an independent agency capable of creating its own reality, let's give the hypotheses we do have for how brains create mind more time. Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness. I am, therefore I think.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ie/?page=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Thoughts?
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SarathW
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by SarathW » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:43 pm

I can't think anything better than the fire simile.
:)
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daverupa
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by daverupa » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:51 pm

Shermer would probably insist on identifying a consciousness as an existing one for a human, rather than seeing the fire simile as applying to the sense spheres individually on various occasions. This human consciousness is indeed ended at the death of the human body, but to say that this consciousness & concomitant ignorant sankhara are necessarily without ongoing effect is not something we can assume, as he seems to.

Compare Navon:
Some perennial issues regarding conscious awareness – primarily, what it is and what its functions might be – are revisited. It is suggested that there might be a way to resolve at least a bit of the permanent tension between the common conviction that it is extremely puzzling, mysterious in a way, and the prevalent faith that it nonetheless must be somehow accountable by neuroscience, even further than David Chalmers did in delimiting the “easy problems of consciousness” to cognitive tasks underlying abilities or performance: The concept of conscious awareness per se is not as theoretically elusive as it is often portrayed, since it has a simple sense that may be reasonably accommodated by information processing models of the mind – roughly, open internal access of all processes to the output of a process considered at any given moment most relevant. What still is hardly explicable by customary tools of cognitive science is sentience – whatever enables us to have phenomenal experience, a prominent content of conscious awareness (yet qualitatively different from the other prominent content, namely cognition). It is argued that the inexplicability of sentience seems to be misattributed to the carrier of the contents of awareness. Awareness per se may just be colored as inexplicable by one of its content types – phenomenal experience.
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SarathW
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by SarathW » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:08 am

Understanding what happens to consciousness when we alive also some help.
How does the consciousness transfer to a new cells when the old one die?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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SDC
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by SDC » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:32 am

Bewildering how mired modern science has become (or perhaps was already) in these increasingly complex explanations for what they know about what they admittedly don't know. That western philosophy over the course of several hundred years, the majority of which were well within eras of scientific and technological appreciation (or just downright prominence) had more thoroughly addressed these 'unaswerables' just goes to show how very late sciency science is to the party - despite having brought delicious food, exotic liquor and an MRI machine. Having once been an eager proponent of that hopeful gray area between "hard" science and philosophy - that we are so sure is filled with the "real" answers - I can confidently assert that the only reconciliation in the line being pursued in this article is to promptly evacuate via the teachings of the Buddha. :tongue:

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by DNS » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:46 am

the article wrote:Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness. I am, therefore I think.
Talk about stating the conclusion in the premise (begging the question). It's sort of like saying "it is a fact that God exists until proved otherwise."

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by chownah » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:47 am

From the article(quoting Chopra): The idea that subjective experience is a result of electrochemical activity remains a hypothesis, Chopra elaborated in an e-mail. It is as much of a speculation as the idea that consciousness is fundamental and that it causes brain activity and creates the properties and objects of the material world.
My sense of the gist of the article is that the author is saying that while what Chopra says above is true it does not mean from a scientific point of view that both of the views that Chopra presents are to be considered equally supported. Seems perfectly obvious to me and I am sort of wondering why this was presented in the Scientific American as it is sooooo obvious.
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by chownah » Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:52 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
the article wrote:Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness. I am, therefore I think.
Talk about stating the conclusion in the premise (begging the question). It's sort of like saying "it is a fact that God exists until proved otherwise."
I took notice of this sentence too. It is probably the worst part of the article. To state that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies as a "fact" is pretty incorrect to begin with and really is not in keeping with the scientific point of view. I think that the author is either trying to stir up some controversy with this or else would probably in hind sight wish to have described it in some way other than declaring it as a "fact".
chownah

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by SarathW » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:11 am

What is the brain?
Can we separate the brain from the rest of the body?
I think we can remove 95% of the so called brain and there will still be a consciousness.
Where is the brain of the embryo?
:thinking:
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SamKR
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by SamKR » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:15 am

clw_uk wrote:
... Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness.
Thoughts?
It is an assumption that brains cause consciousness, but we know directly "for a fact" (and not an assumption) that brains or concept of brains appear when there is consciousness. Until proved otherwise, of course. :)

Again, this is a huge assumption: "we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies". How do we know it for a fact?
I am, therefore I think.
There is an experience "I am"; therefore there arises the idea "I think". With that idea there appears the thinker, and that thinker thinks:
"brains cause consciousness". Whatever the thinker thinks he/she is normally obsessed to believe it as true. Then arise conflict and philosophical debates. :)

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by dhammacoustic » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:37 am

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Last edited by dhammacoustic on Fri May 08, 2015 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Sam Vara
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:53 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
the article wrote:Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness. I am, therefore I think.
Talk about stating the conclusion in the premise (begging the question). It's sort of like saying "it is a fact that God exists until proved otherwise."
Shermer does indeed beg the question, but isn't it more like saying "It is a fact that God doesn't exist until proved otherwise"? For Shermer, to exist is to be measurable, and the consciousness of a dead person stops being measurable; just like God has always been unmeasurable.

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by pegembara » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:27 am

"No, lord, for in many ways the Blessed One has said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness.'"

"Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the eye & forms is classified simply as eye-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the ear & sounds is classified simply as ear-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the nose & aromas is classified simply as nose-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the tongue & flavors is classified simply as tongue-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the body & tactile sensations is classified simply as body-consciousness. Consciousness that arises in dependence on the intellect & ideas is classified simply as intellect-consciousness.
[The question being asked belongs to intellect-consciousness. Are there conditions for an arising of a new consciousness?]

"Knowing thus and seeing thus, would you run after the future, thinking, 'Shall we be in the future? Shall we not be in the future? What shall we be in the future? How shall we be in the future? Having been what, what shall we be in the future'?"

"No, lord."


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Last edited by pegembara on Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Apr 16, 2015 6:29 am

clw_uk wrote:
No one denies that consciousness is a hard problem. But before we reify consciousness to the level of an independent agency capable of creating its own reality, let's give the hypotheses we do have for how brains create mind more time. Because we know for a fact that measurable consciousness dies when the brain dies, until proved otherwise, the default hypothesis must be that brains cause consciousness. I am, therefore I think.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... ie/?page=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Thoughts?
What is meant here by "measurable consciousness"? Scince when is "consciousness" part of the scientific wold?
If I assume the subjective mental content of me being conscious to be what is meant here as "measurable consciousness" then the world would also die when my brain dies, until proven otherwise, and the default hypothesis must be that brains cause worlds.
Obviously this isn't meant by "measurable consciousness" because my subjective mental content is not scientifically measurable and I don't think science would agree that the world dies when my brain dies. Thus consciousness by a buddhist definition doesn't apply here.

Therefore I assume that the article equates objective observable data with consciousness. Electical values, signals and waves of a living brain, behaviour and response from a living being as well as common vital functions. Since all that data can only be aquired with reference to a living brain the obvious conclusion, when all that data stops by the dead of the brain, must be that consciousness dies with the dead of the brain.

I however question the applicability of those measurements and the equation of such "measurable" data with consciousness, which in my eyes cannot be part of the scientific world, due to the fact that consciousness is not observable with scientifc methods.

The scientist takes for granted that his scientific methods based on materialism are applicable and that thus aquired data reflects what the scientist desires to observe, while he presupposes that it is appropriate to equate materialistic data with a mental state.

It's always the same problem with science here. Let's think about pain for example. Scientist can mesaure the electrical signal from the nerves when one feels pain and in theory the signal travels from the triggered nerves to the brain and creates the feeling of pain. The scientist equates the electrical signals from the nerves and the brain with pain, however as far as I can tell, when I cut my finger I've never felt a painful feeling running up my hand over my arm into my head but only felt pain where I cut myself.

To cut a long story short, I don't think science is able to tell anything about consciousness (from a buddhist perspective).

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: What Happens to Consciousness When We Die?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:06 am

Excellent post, acinteyyo. Shermer seems to make the assumption that if it can't be measured then it doesn't exist. But he is not measuring consciousness - merely some physical changes in his consciousness which he infers are evidence of another consciousness.

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