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Author Topic: Experiment to prove past lives  (Read 5101 times)
bjb1234
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« on: August 19, 2007, 03:03:52 »

I had an idea today i wish some scientific group would do lol. 

Lots of people have "past life" regression via hypnosis.  And come up with very accurate accounts of a previous life and some of the details they give are very accurate (TV show in UK called have i been here before, they regress a celebrity then a historian goes and tries to get evidence for all the details).  Alot of the time most of the details can be verified.  But this isnt proof, the celebs could have been exposed to for example history of victorian england as a child and the imagination just taking what its seen/heard and made up a story.

It would be a good idea to take 100 kids (with there parents), move them into like a appartment complex and have them lead some sort of experiment (from when the kids was born).  Like control all they are exposed to, what they read, what they watch, what they learn at school.  (But have them and there family lead the most normal life they can possibly do).

One thing not to do would be teach them history but they can still learn other subjects. etc...  Family can still work, lead normal lives.

Then when they are teenagers or 18, do the regression, and see what stories / details they come up with that can be checked out.

For example if they had never learnt or even read about victorian england then come up with all this information about it thats accurate description of the time, it would not directly prove past lives exist.  But it would deffo make the idea more plausable to the scientific community.

Those 100 kids could change the whole outlook of the world.

But it would be very expensive experiment, the kids would need private education, and everything.

You guys rekkon anything like this will ever be done?
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Stillwater
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 02:30:02 »

Yes-

You would not even need the isolation environment.

You just find a group of people who were not exposed to western society, and belonged to a group that didn't have formal education- such as some folks in rural China, or a Polynesian island, and see if they have similar recollections as a control group. If some random Pacific islander in a closed culture could detail their life as an Aztec or Napoleonic soldier, I think it might carry a bit of weight.
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 02:30:02 »

logoVisit the website of Astral Pulse creator Adrian Cooper.

Home of the best selling book Our Ultimate Reality.

Astral Projection, Metaphysics and many other subjects.

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sk8chik
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2007, 07:42:14 »

I don't think you need to scientifically prove metaphysical concepts to skeptics. That sort of effort is wasted. It could better be spent in helping improve understanding of it and guide those who do believe, for whatever reasons, intuitively or divinely or whatever, that they do exist. People who pursue spiritual paths for those latter reasons get more out of it anyway than those who doubt it from a strictly scientific standpoint. They'll always find a way in the end to find flaws in the research anyway. I've never heard of an experiment that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the validity of a metaphysical phenomenon. And those scientific types are very quick to hone onto those doubts.
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Sharpe
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2007, 18:04:51 »

I don't think you need to scientifically prove metaphysical concepts to skeptics. That sort of effort is wasted. It could better be spent in helping improve understanding of it and guide those who do believe, for whatever reasons, intuitively or divinely or whatever, that they do exist. People who pursue spiritual paths for those latter reasons get more out of it anyway than those who doubt it from a strictly scientific standpoint. They'll always find a way in the end to find flaws in the research anyway. I've never heard of an experiment that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the validity of a metaphysical phenomenon. And those scientific types are very quick to hone onto those doubts.

I don't think so, first of all it's more likely that it doesn't exist.
But more importantly: if it doesn't exist and you spend money on people that are easily foolable into believing stuff like this, you could mess up beautiful minds.
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sk8chik
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2007, 17:31:52 »

Quote
I don't think so, first of all it's more likely that it doesn't exist.
But more importantly: if it doesn't exist and you spend money on people that are easily foolable into believing stuff like this, you could mess up beautiful minds.

That's exactly my point  smiley People are so skeptical they make up their minds before even seeing the experiments
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2007, 17:31:52 »



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bjb1234
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2007, 22:28:30 »

Truth is we know little about the universe, we know loads more than we did 600 years ago...  Most of stuff we know now we would have said "no way" to 600 years ago.

The universe probly does have other levels to it, and i guess its way more complicated than we think now.

As for the rural china part...

Program ive seen in the UK "have i been here before" they did the regression then got historian to look up the details.

Some of the details these people said that was confirmed, was something they dont know about, for example, one guy was a clown like few hundred years ago, in some part of europe, his job was to distract the audience if something at the circus went wrong...  and also he said he robbed a lady got a bag of money, which was blue.  Rare blue money.

And the historian found out everything he said was pretty accurate for the date he gave, and the blue money too.

And the guy who did this regression had never heard of any of this stuff before.  Meaning he had never studied history of clowns lol.

And theres alot of cases like this.

Sure its deffo not solid proof, but its interesting.
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Sharpe
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007, 14:10:12 »

That's not what I mean sk8chik, I don't believe in it.
I meant messing up beautiful minds that could actually achieve something that's good for mankind, like scientists developing AI so no human being ever has to work again.

Although I don't believe in it, I can see the difference the between personality traits of people believing in paranormal phenomena and people who don't.

I kinda didn't post for a year or so and now I return I can still see that everyone here is still nice and polite like always!
Skeptics may be right on some degree's about reality, but the thing is, if you believe in actual reality everything becomes clear and obvious. But you begin to spot people that believe in paranormal phenomena and you want them to believe in the truth (science) for some reason.

I have to admit, all the facts and theory's of science today are probably , PROBABLY reality or truth, whatever makes you happy, right.

Though I may tell you that what you guys believe in is foolish, or maybe I just come on these boards to start a discussion (because I like discussions).

I mostly come here because I love you guys, I love the philosophies of people that believe in the paranormal.
It sometimes puts a comfort, just like believing in god.
But that's maybe because morally everyone has rights and everyone is special, which in reality isn't true.
In reality, life is cruel because of evolution.
It creates this huge competition between humans.
Maybe it's because most people live in status anxiety and therefore choose to believe in stuff like this.
I really don't care, I still love you guys <3
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Stillwater
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2007, 20:35:02 »

This is pointless arguement, I know, lol, but I will do it anyhow......

Hello Sharpe,

You seem to take a position of Materialism (that only physical exists, mind is produced by brain);
this is not necessarily wrong, but like all extraordinary claims, it requires a due explanation. Many people here hold radical beliefs, but in some ways (we can go into them if you want) materialism is just as radical.
You can hold any belief you want, but if you want to go about speaking of it as previously proven truth, it is courtesous to present your reasoning to those whom you address.

Please don't take this as confrontational, and I know this type of discussion will never close itself- I am merely interested in how you defend your ideas Wink
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2007, 14:55:27 »

define "mind"

And please, go into the radical beliefs of materialism.
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Stillwater
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2007, 01:00:12 »

Hi Sharpe,

I am sorry this is long, but it is a complicated issue with many viewpoints, which must be described in detail to be circumspect.

I am glad you asked for the definition of "mind" (given below), as that seems to show an understanding of the problem.

One of the most prodigious issues in all philosophy is what is referred to as the "Mind-Body Problem", which seeks to determine the fundamental "composition" of the universe (and of course, people); there are three classical answers which vying camps give (there are more, of course, but these other views are not widely held):

1)Dualism- There exist both "mind" and "matter", two completely distinct and exclusive substances, and somehow the two interact (view held by most groups claiming we have a body with a soul- principally the western religions)

2)Monism of Matter (Materialism)- There exists only matter, and all other phenomena, including "mind", must result from this matter and its interactions ( view held by many reductionist scientists, most atheists)

3)Monism of Mind (Idealism)- There exists only mind, and all other phenomena, including the appearance of matter, result from thought ( view held by many eastern faiths, and some radical twentieth century philosophers)

Now "mind" is an elusive word to define, as what mind is depends on which viewpoint you take-
Materialists call it just another property of matter, Dualists say it is something that acts upon, and is also acted upon in turn, by matter, and Idealists say it is the singular force in the universe; this is still not a definition, though, so I suppose to group the characterists mind seems to share between the three camps,
I would say mind is the collective entitity composing all cognition, sensory input, memory, self-awareness, and any other strictly personal, subjective phenomena which may exist- this definition may be freely interchanged with "consciousness".

Okay, so that is out of the way wink Now on to Materialism!

Each of the three major explanations (the three numbered above) of the Mind-Body Problem have intrinsic problems, problems so deep they must be addressed in order to defend the plausibility of the viewpoint.

Dualism, for instance, has the perrenial problem of how Mind and Matter interact, as it is clear they do; if the world really is composed of two different, exclusive substances, then how is it that our mind, sepparate from our body, is affected by what happens to the body, which is matter? This is one of the problems materialists raise against dualists, for it is more logical to them that the reason the body affects the mind so powerfully is that the mind IS part of the body!(and this makes senese, no? But we will see later this explanation has its own problems) Dualists attempt to solve this fatal problem with a group of ideas normally called interactionism, but these are bizzare, and too complicated and diverse to name here.

Materialism, as we have seen, escapes the gun so to speak- it does not need to explain how the body affects the mind, as materialists see the mind as part of the body- a thing of matter.

But a problem just as fatal and insidious as that plaguing dualism arises specifically to materialists-

"How is it that the body(matter) produces the Mind in the first place?" Afterall, mind and matter are things apparently so different!

Now materialists say that matter is essentially something dead (when was the last time a "scientist" said he thought atoms were "alive", or could think?) But somehow, something with a SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE seems to develop from this inert matter? Materialists make the claim that the brain produces "mind", but on what level does this happen? Clearly not on the atomic, as atoms don't think, do they? And the proteins and carbohydrates which make up our cells- they are just assemblies of atoms, so they shouldn't be thinking or feeling either; cells are simply biochemical machines composed of the molecules mentioned- it is not logical that a cell, a unit that does NOTHING other than manufacture molecules and assemble and export/import other molecules should feel or think, right? Everything it does is mechanical- it is a machine in every sense of the word, it doesn't "feel", or "make choices", lol! How could it?

So the materialist traces the emergent levels of the organism to the cell, and apparently sees nothing there that should produce a mind- that which feels and thinks. So, they reason, there must be some emergent property in the organization of cells that produces a mind, right? But the problem is, everything up to this level is mechanical! So the materialist, perhaps flustered, says, "Somehow, when all these little machines (cells) all get together, the neurons form a net, which is, by some unknown principle, self aware!When dead machines talk to other dead machines, the result is a feeling thing?

This is one of the major radical assumptions Materialism generally makes- that somehow dead, inert matter, if arranged in the right way (an organism) GAINS SELF AWARENESS! How is it that you can ever make a self-aware thing from dead components? If there only ever was matter in the universe, it could have built everything we see around us, including our bodies and brains, but this does not account for our self-awareness and experience.

If one takes this materialist arguement reductio ad absurdum, then this arguement forces the following to be true- Machines may have awareness, if built the right way; this must by necessity be true, since our bodies, being nothing more than material machines, produce our awareness, so other machinese will and must have the ability to be alive, if configured in the magic pattern.

Now I don't know about you, lol, but I have a hard time picturing that if you had enough tinker toys, you could build a being that experiences its environment; yes, you could make something that appeared to be alive, like many of our machines can today, but never actually have a mind.

Again, this (the mystery of how not life, but awareness arises from unaware objects) is the one of the major (and strong, no?) problems which a materialist worldview faces, and must address in order to consider itself a viable theory. As far as I can tell ( and you don't have to and shouldn't take my word for it on faith) this issue has not been satisfactorily addressed by materialists, and this is a reason I say it has a radical side, as it purports to be a holistic worldview, but ( in my view, at least) fails to meet the absurdities it implies.



Now I can see how you might take this as confrontational, and the wording against Materialism is biased- but I worded it as I did to show how bizzare this reasoning may appear from certain angles; please do not be insulted! wink You are more than free to take issue with any of these statements, provided you give logical reasoning. I wrote a dissertation, lol- I think it would be courterous to at least consider the ideas  tongue  I look forward to your thoughts!

Peace cool cool cool

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sk8chik
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2007, 01:25:31 »

I really enjoyed your "dissertation" Stillwater. I tend to hide from philosophical debate regarding this issue because I hold beliefs in what you call the Idealist school and I don't feel like I need to defend those beliefs to other people. Its okay with me if people have different beliefs and I have no desire to change those people or defend myself. That didn't seem your intention, just saying where I come from. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, thanks Smiley
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Sharpe
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2007, 01:54:39 »

Wow that's one hell of a post.
Tnx for explaining everything though, I never heard of dualism or idealism before.
Anyways, I don't see a flaw in materialism, because the brain is perfectly formed in my opinion.
I have amateuristicly studied a bit of neuropsychology so I see the "mind" as a mechanism.
Everything is there, and like we know from psychology all behaviour and choises in humans are made for sexual reproduction becaus evolution needs to progress. It's all logical.
Besides that, I would like to add that I also disbelieve in free-will.
If a human being is formed it builds a personality from it's environment, and it makes it's choises based on that. So I believe humans are no different then programmed machines.
Believing in this makes things so obvious and clear that I have no desire into believing in the other 2.

Ok so, I get the idea you believe in idealism.
1 Simple question: WHYYYYY!!!!??!?!?!? IT'S SO ILLOGICAL AND IT VAGUES EVERYTHING UP, WHYY??!?!
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Stillwater
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2007, 20:48:22 »

Quote
I really enjoyed your "dissertation" Stillwater. I tend to hide from philosophical debate regarding this issue because I hold beliefs in what you call the Idealist school and I don't feel like I need to defend those beliefs to other people. Its okay with me if people have different beliefs and I have no desire to change those people or defend myself. That didn't seem your intention, just saying where I come from. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, thanks


Thanks, sk8chik.

No, I don't think, in most cases, people should be forced to defend what they believe, if they have a rational reason for believing it. No matter what a person believes, that will not change the structure of the universe, lol- what is is, and belief, in most senses, won't alter that.

I wouldn't really say it is my intention to change the beliefs of others, so much as ask them to question what they think, and see how what they believe answers the both the major problems of the universe as we see it, and those problems strictly generated by the belief system itself. I guess I have an aggressive socratic streak, lol- I mainly find it funny (and sometimes dangerous, as in the case of militant religious beliefs) when people feel they know something they have never themselves questioned, lol.

As Sharpe has surmised, I too think Idealism best describes the universe, for reasons I will enumerate (if you can stomach it, lol).

Sharpe:

Quote
Wow that's one hell of a post.Tnx for explaining everything though, I never heard of dualism or idealism before.

Yeah, it felt like writing an essay, lol. I do think it is important to define terms like those, as you really only ever see them in academic philosophy, and if people see a bunch of terms they are unfamiliar with, it tends to alienate them to what is otherwise well within their understanding.

Quote
Besides that, I would like to add that I also disbelieve in free-will.
If a human being is formed it builds a personality from it's environment, and it makes it's choises based on that. So I believe humans are no different then programmed machines.

It is logical to disbelieve free-will if you believe in materialism; for reasons I think you grasp, most modern philosophers think materialism forces a thing called "Determinism", which, in a nutshell, means we have no free-will.

Quote
Anyways, I don't see a flaw in materialism, because the brain is perfectly formed in my opinion.
I have amateuristicly studied a bit of neuropsychology so I see the "mind" as a mechanism.
Everything is there, and like we know from psychology all behaviour and choises in humans are made for sexual reproduction becaus evolution needs to progress. It's all logical.

I can definitely see how a person could study modern neuroscience and come to the conclusion that materialism is a logical theory, as it does seem to account for everything mysterious about "mind"; afterall, we can see which parts of the brain are involved in cognition, memory creation, sensory transduction, etc. But I think we really need to examine what precise data we have, and what this data can truly allow us to conclude with fairness. Most of what we know about the cognition in the brain, for instance, comes from studying things like MRI. CAT, and PET models, which allow researchers to see which areas of the brain are active during a certain activity, like doing a math problem. But this data basically only allows us to make a correlation- not draw a causality; we can say that when we solve an equation or integral that certain areas of the brain show activity, but not that these areas caused the mental operation- merely that they were related somehow to that activity.

For example: when you run your car, the air conditioning may be on, and also, it can only be on when the car it running, but that does not mean that the air-conditioning makes the car run! The same is true of the data on cognition.

True, the models of which parts of the brain are involved in what are a good model of how data is processed in the brain, but that is all they can explain. There is some aspect of a mind that transcends mere data exchange- the part which feels pain, or experiences the color blue- basically, that which experiences what the data is telling it. A computer can exchange data, and perform all manner of operations on it, but far from feel this data.

The physical model of vision is well understood- rods and cones in the front of the retina take in data on color and light intensity, pass this data on to intermediary neurons in the retina, which pass the message over the optic nerve, which passes the information to the thalamus, which sends the data to areas of the occipital lobe in the back, and some to the other lobes, which from this input build a view of what the eyes are seeing. Up to this point it is all data, but then something odd happens; we actually "see" this data as an image! Nothing about the data that codes for blue suggests the actual experience of seeing blue- it is just data that describes light of a particular wavelength- but somehow we have this mysterious experience of seeing the color blue that is indescribeable; we only take it for granted based on convention, and our assumption that others too can see colors; how would you describe color to a person who has never seen with their eyes?

A computer can play with data, but this is very different from having an experience based on this data. Nothing in the makeup of of brain suggests why we should be able to have an experience about the data it receives and transduces- computers don't!

From the work of the most educated neuroscientists I have read of, they mostly (some do stalwartly press materialism solves the problem, but as far as I can see, fail to show how) seem to acede that we have never solved this big problem, which, in philosophy, is called "Chalmer's Hard Problem".

http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

Quote
Ok so, I get the idea you believe in idealism.
1 Simple question: WHYYYYY!!!!??!?!?!? IT'S SO ILLOGICAL AND IT VAGUES EVERYTHING UP, WHYY??!?!

My reasoning is this- Idealism does not face the same problems as Materialism and Dualism do- true, it does face problems of its own, but I believe it more than meets them; furthermore, Idealism seems to explain phenomena in the physical world which the other two, it appears, cannot.

My reasoning, shortened, and rendered as a loose classical arguement is as follows:

PREMISE 1) The world seems to be composed of mind, that which thinks, and matter, that which exists physically, unless one of the two is reducable to the other

PREMISE 2) Dualism apparently cannot explain how, if we have a mind and body, and the mind is sepparable from the body, how what happens to the body affects the mind, and how what happens to the mind affects the body so,

PREMISE 3) Dualism seems to fail to explain the world

PREMISE 4) Materialism cannot explain how matter produces the awareness and experience aspect of mind, so

PREMISE 5) Materialism seems to fail to explain the world

PREMISE 6) Idealism can explain the presence of matter thusly- All we know about matter is the result of sense experience, and sensory experience is a mental phenomenon; true, its input appears to origininate outside the body, but in essence, all we know about the physical world is what our senses tell us. Our senses have been wrong in the past, so clearly they do not represent the physical world, but only the world as we see it. Now since all we can ever know about the world is what our senses tell us, does there ever really need to be a world at all, outside of our senses? We never really can experience an object- just a perception of that object: we see the orangeness, carrot-shapedness, taste the bitterness, but we never actually "commune with the essense of the carrot", so we cannot say a carrot really ever existed. We can see a carrot in an animated movie, but no one would mistake this sense experience to prove that a carrot really did exist when we saw what looked like one! Thus, our experience of the physical universe can only be said to truly exist in our sensations of it; so if it were pre-arranged that our minds would have the sensation of a fixed physical universe with set laws, all that would need to happen would be for us to feel it in our minds- this is precisely what Einstein and numerous other thinkers thought was the case- that the matter of the unverse is a persistent mental construct! So

PREMISE 7) Matter is a product of mind

PREMISE Cool It is apparently possible for minds to have knowledge of the physical world beyond what physical senses have the ability to provide, as shown by the numerous experiments like those by Charles Tart, which show that an individual can retrieve things like numbers from other locations.

http://www.psywww.com/asc/obe/missz.html - Charles Tart and "Miss Z"

PREMISE 9) Idealism can explain this by pointing out that if the universe is a product of mind (premise of idealism, afterall), then mind should be able to access anything it is generating

PREMISE 10) It is apprarently possible for minds to effect changes in the phyical world on their own, as documented in anecdotal studies on those claiming telekinetic abilities, and in studies like Princeton's project PEAR:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princeton_Engineering_Anomalies_Research_Lab

http://www.mattneuman.com/wishful1.htm

PREMISE 11) Idealism can explain this by pointing out that if the universe is a product of mind, then mind should be able to alter its product

PREMISE 12) Dualism and Materialism do not seem to offer parallel reasons of how Premises 8 and 10 could occur

PREMISE 13) Dualism and Materialism do not seem to explain why the universe has fixed laws, and what causes these laws

PREMISE 14) Idealism suggests that the laws of the universe are arbitrarily set by the mind which generates said universe, whatever that mind might be, so there is no conflict


--------------------------------

Conclusion:

Idealism seems to best describe the universe, as it offers viable explanations of the construction of the universe, and explains anomolies which the other two major theories seem to be unable to address



Now up to this point I have ignored the problems that face Idealism, and in this way the account is biased in favor of Idealism; here are the problems idealism generates, and the manner in which I think these concerns are answered:

PROBLEM 1) Where does mind come from?

Response: This a fundamental problem of Idealism, similar to one in Materialism (Where does matter come from).
Materialists suggest that matter was always present, in fixed quantiy; parallely, Idealists simply say that mind is the fundamental unit of the unverse, generating all other things, and has always existed.

PROBLEM 2) A claim leveled against Materialism is that Materialism cannot explain the existence of minds, with their aspects of self-awareness and subjective experience- so in parallel, how does Idealism explain the apparent permenance of the physical universe, and the fact that the it appears to generate the mind, not the other way around?

Response: The permenance of the physical universe is the choice of the mind generating it, perhaps in order to allow those experiencing it to live in a world of fixed laws. The brain appears to form the mind because it is necessary for the mind to have an interface with the physical world, which provides sensory data, allows agency, and forms records (memories) of the mind's actions in the world. Since the physical universe works on a principle of order, it is necessary, that there be physical reasons for the existence of these brains and bodies, hence evolution, based on chemistry and biological laws.



Now these are simply my reseponses to the problems posed to Idealism, and I am not as certain of the answers as I am of the reasoning (premises) I have for supporting Idealism, but I think I can offer possible solutions to the problems of Idealism much more easily that I can to those of Dualism or Materialism. If you have any other problems (many others exist, as is true of all three theories), I can attempt to answer those as well.

Okay- I hope that works for you, lol. This is the second essay I have written in two days! That is what I get for responding to age old questions with complicated and refined answers, and numberous viewpoints, lol.



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Sharpe
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2007, 21:30:02 »

I'm sorry but I still disagree.
Because (now bear with me because this is going to sound queer), the only problem with materialism according to you is that it does not explain awareness.
But yet you seem to be well aware of how the brain is put together.

"he physical model of vision is well understood- rods and cones in the front of the retina take in data on color and light intensity, pass this data on to intermediary neurons in the retina, which pass the message over the optic nerve, which passes the information to the thalamus, which sends the data to areas of the occipital lobe in the back, and some to the other lobes, which from this input build a view of what the eyes are seeing. Up to this point it is all data, but then something odd happens; we actually "see" this data as an image! Nothing about the data that codes for blue suggests the actual experience of seeing blue- it is just data that describes light of a particular wavelength- but somehow we have this mysterious experience of seeing the color blue that is indescribeable; we only take it for granted based on convention, and our assumption that others too can see colors; how would you describe color to a person who has never seen with their eyes?"

Exactly, the occipital lobe sends it to the angular gyrus which puts all the other senses of the "entitiy which you view" together.
Now like you explained, the brain mostly handles information.
What if, you put all those information based hardware (if i can express it like that) together.
You would create a robot exactly.
Now, I know what you're going to say, so stick with me here.

From our point of view the robot has no consciousness, but what if human beings don't have consciousness either? Can you actually say a human being other then yourself has it?
Why do you think you have it? "I think therefor I am?"
It still seems logical in my opinion, it may be a pretty rough hypothesis, but so is everything else here on these forums.

If I make my choises based on how I feel about the choise.
The feeling makes the choise, not me.
Because there is no "me".

Maybe there is a thing like consciousness but it is so queer that it can't make it's own decisions.
It is merely an observer?

If this was right, why the need for the observer?
And that is where I think it logically eliminates that.
Which only leaves matter.
A biological organism that is build for progress.
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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2007, 22:57:34 »

wow thanks again Stillwater Smiley

I think the fundamental discrepancy in defense of materialism is the definition of "consciousness". A machine can be programmed to act like an eye and interpret light and analyze it, and say understand that the light it is receiving is blue. That merely gives the machine the data that it has seen blue light, with which it can manipulate/use that data. But that is entirely different from the conscious experience of actually seeing blue light.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2007, 01:18:37 »

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I'm sorry but I still disagree.
Because (now bear with me because this is going to sound queer), the only problem with materialism according to you is that it does not explain awareness.

No need to be sorry- better than to keep those beliefs that make sense to us than to allow others to convince us of strange ideas. My goal here is not to convince you, but rather that you understand the problems which are associated with various viewpoints.

That is not the only problem, but almost definitely the biggest one, and one which most folks who are familiar with the arguements feel is fatal to materialism unless it can be answered.

I can probably not explain the issue as well as the professionals, so here is an excerpt from Chalmers (link provided again) to better elucidate the issue, with the parts I think are most important underlined:

http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

1 Introduction
Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. There is nothing that we know more intimately than conscious experience, but there is nothing that is harder to explain. All sorts of mental phenomena have yielded to scientific investigation in recent years, but consciousness has stubbornly resisted. Many have tried to explain it, but the explanations always seem to fall short of the target. Some have been led to suppose that the problem is intractable, and that no good explanation can be given.

To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. In this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance and a double-aspect view of information.

2 The easy problems and the hard problem
There is not just one problem of consciousness. "Consciousness" is an ambiguous term, referring to many different phenomena. Each of these phenomena needs to be explained, but some are easier to explain than others. At the start, it is useful to divide the associated problems of consciousness into "hard" and "easy" problems. The easy problems of consciousness are those that seem directly susceptible to the standard methods of cognitive science, whereby a phenomenon is explained in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. The hard problems are those that seem to resist those methods.

The easy problems of consciousness include those of explaining the following phenomena:


the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli;
the integration of information by a cognitive system;
the reportability of mental states;
the ability of a system to access its own internal states;
the focus of attention;
the deliberate control of behavior;
the difference between wakefulness and sleep.

All of these phenomena are associated with the notion of consciousness. For example, one sometimes says that a mental state is conscious when it is verbally reportable, or when it is internally accessible. Sometimes a system is said to be conscious of some information when it has the ability to react on the basis of that information, or, more strongly, when it attends to that information, or when it can integrate that information and exploit it in the sophisticated control of behavior. We sometimes say that an action is conscious precisely when it is deliberate. Often, we say that an organism is conscious as another way of saying that it is awake.

There is no real issue about whether these phenomena can be explained scientifically. All of them are straightforwardly vulnerable to explanation in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. To explain access and reportability, for example, we need only specify the mechanism by which information about internal states is retrieved and made available for verbal report. To explain the integration of information, we need only exhibit mechanisms by which information is brought together and exploited by later processes. For an account of sleep and wakefulness, an appropriate neurophysiological account of the processes responsible for organisms' contrasting behavior in those states will suffice. In each case, an appropriate cognitive or neurophysiological model can clearly do the explanatory work.

If these phenomena were all there was to consciousness, then consciousness would not be much of a problem. Although we do not yet have anything close to a complete explanation of these phenomena, we have a clear idea of how we might go about explaining them. This is why I call these problems the easy problems. Of course, "easy" is a relative term. Getting the details right will probably take a century or two of difficult empirical work. Still, there is every reason to believe that the methods of cognitive science and neuroscience will succeed.

The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.

It is undeniable that some organisms are subjects of experience. But the question of how it is that these systems are subjects of experience is perplexing. Why is it that when our cognitive systems engage in visual and auditory information-processing, we have visual or auditory experience: the quality of deep blue, the sensation of middle C? How can we explain why there is something it is like to entertain a mental image, or to experience an emotion? It is widely agreed that experience arises from a physical basis, but we have no good explanation of why and how it so arises. Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.

If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. In this central sense of "consciousness", an organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that organism, and a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state. Sometimes terms such as "phenomenal consciousness" and "qualia" are also used here, but I find it more natural to speak of "conscious experience" or simply "experience". Another useful way to avoid confusion (used by e.g. Newell 1990, Chalmers 1996) is to reserve the term "consciousness" for the phenomena of experience, using the less loaded term "awareness" for the more straightforward phenomena described earlier. If such a convention were widely adopted, communication would be much easier; as things stand, those who talk about "consciousness" are frequently talking past each other.

The ambiguity of the term "consciousness" is often exploited by both philosophers and scientists writing on the subject. It is common to see a paper on consciousness begin with an invocation of the mystery of consciousness, noting the strange intangibility and ineffability of subjectivity, and worrying that so far we have no theory of the phenomenon. Here, the topic is clearly the hard problem - the problem of experience. In the second half of the paper, the tone becomes more optimistic, and the author's own theory of consciousness is outlined. Upon examination, this theory turns out to be a theory of one of the more straightforward phenomena - of reportability, of introspective access, or whatever. At the close, the author declares that consciousness has turned out to be tractable after all, but the reader is left feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch. The hard problem remains untouched.

3 Functional explanation

Why are the easy problems easy, and why is the hard problem hard? The easy problems are easy precisely because they concern the explanation of cognitive abilities and functions. To explain a cognitive function, we need only specify a mechanism that can perform the function. The methods of cognitive science are well-suited for this sort of explanation, and so are well-suited to the easy problems of consciousness. By contrast, the hard problem is hard precisely because it is not a problem about the performance of functions. The problem persists even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained. (Here "function" is not used in the narrow teleological sense of something that a system is designed to do, but in the broader sense of any causal role in the production of behavior that a system might perform.)

To explain reportability, for instance, is just to explain how a system could perform the function of producing reports on internal states. To explain internal access, we need to explain how a system could be appropriately affected by its internal states and use information about those states in directing later processes. To explain integration and control, we need to explain how a system's central processes can bring information contents together and use them in the facilitation of various behaviors. These are all problems about the explanation of functions.

How do we explain the performance of a function? By specifying a mechanism that performs the function. Here, neurophysiological and cognitive modeling are perfect for the task. If we want a detailed low-level explanation, we can specify the neural mechanism that is responsible for the function. If we want a more abstract explanation, we can specify a mechanism in computational terms. Either way, a full and satisfying explanation will result. Once we have specified the neural or computational mechanism that performs the function of verbal report, for example, the bulk of our work in explaining reportability is over.

In a way, the point is trivial. It is a conceptual fact about these phenomena that their explanation only involves the explanation of various functions, as the phenomena are functionally definable. All it means for reportability to be instantiated in a system is that the system has the capacity for verbal reports of internal information. All it means for a system to be awake is for it to be appropriately receptive to information from the environment and for it to be able to use this information in directing behavior in an appropriate way. To see that this sort of thing is a conceptual fact, note that someone who says "you have explained the performance of the verbal report function, but you have not explained reportability" is making a trivial conceptual mistake about reportability. All it could possibly take to explain reportability is an explanation of how the relevant function is performed; the same goes for the other phenomena in question.

Throughout the higher-level sciences, reductive explanation works in just this way. To explain the gene, for instance, we needed to specify the mechanism that stores and transmits hereditary information from one generation to the next. It turns out that DNA performs this function; once we explain how the function is performed, we have explained the gene. To explain life, we ultimately need to explain how a system can reproduce, adapt to its environment, metabolize, and so on. All of these are questions about the performance of functions, and so are well-suited to reductive explanation. The same holds for most problems in cognitive science. To explain learning, we need to explain the way in which a system's behavioral capacities are modified in light of environmental information, and the way in which new information can be brought to bear in adapting a system's actions to its environment. If we show how a neural or computational mechanism does the job, we have explained learning. We can say the same for other cognitive phenomena, such as perception, memory, and language. Sometimes the relevant functions need to be characterized quite subtly, but it is clear that insofar as cognitive science explains these phenomena at all, it does so by explaining the performance of functions.

When it comes to conscious experience, this sort of explanation fails. What makes the hard problem hard and almost unique is that it goes beyond problems about the performance of functions. To see this, note that even when we have explained the performance of all the cognitive and behavioral functions in the vicinity of experience - perceptual discrimination, categorization, internal access, verbal report - there may still remain a further unanswered question: Why is the performance of these functions accompanied by experience? A simple explanation of the functions leaves this question open.

There is no analogous further question in the explanation of genes, or of life, or of learning. If someone says "I can see that you have explained how DNA stores and transmits hereditary information from one generation to the next, but you have not explained how it is a gene", then they are making a conceptual mistake. All it means to be a gene is to be an entity that performs the relevant storage and transmission function. But if someone says "I can see that you have explained how information is discriminated, integrated, and reported, but you have not explained how it is experienced", they are not making a conceptual mistake. This is a nontrivial further question.

This further question is the key question in the problem of consciousness. Why doesn't all this information-processing go on "in the dark", free of any inner feel? Why is it that when electromagnetic waveforms impinge on a retina and are discriminated and categorized by a visual system, this discrimination and categorization is experienced as a sensation of vivid red? We know that conscious experience does arise when these functions are performed, but the very fact that it arises is the central mystery. There is an explanatory gap (a term due to Levine 1983) between the functions and experience, and we need an explanatory bridge to cross it. A mere account of the functions stays on one side of the gap, so the materials for the bridge must be found elsewhere.

This is not to say that experience has no function. Perhaps it will turn out to play an important cognitive role. But for any role it might play, there will be more to the explanation of experience than a simple explanation of the function. Perhaps it will even turn out that in the course of explaining a function, we will be led to the key insight that allows an explanation of experience. If this happens, though, the discovery will be an extra explanatory reward. There is no cognitive function such that we can say in advance that explanation of that function will automatically explain experience.

To explain experience, we need a new approach. The usual explanatory methods of cognitive science and neuroscience do not suffice. These methods have been developed precisely to explain the performance of cognitive functions, and they do a good job of it. But as these methods stand, they are only equipped to explain the performance of functions. When it comes to the hard problem, the standard approach has nothing to say.

4 Some case-studies

In the last few years, a number of works have addressed the problems of consciousness within the framework of cognitive science and neuroscience. This might suggest that the analysis above is faulty, but in fact a close examination of the relevant work only lends the analysis further support. When we investigate just which aspects of consciousness these studies are aimed at, and which aspects they end up explaining, we find that the ultimate target of explanation is always one of the easy problems.


___________________________________


Okay, so Chalmers covers so many ideas, but most importantly, he explains why describing how the functions of the brain are performed does not explain the "Hard Problem" of awareness that accompanies some of these functions.

I really hope you can see why this is such an issue, and how unassailible it has proven, even to modern neuroscience.

Feel free to read the entire link, and any information you can find, as I think it is useful to a person interested in pschology and neurobiology, and what has and hasn't been achieved by the sciences to this date.

Quote
From our point of view the robot has no consciousness, but what if human beings don't have consciousness either? Can you actually say a human being other then yourself has it?
Why do you think you have it? "I think therefor I am?"

Yes, that is a problem philosophy also recognizes, and I agree it may be impossible to prove.

An interesting thing, though, is that Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of consciousness still exists even if there is only one aware entity in the universe (for every person, that one they call "me"), as the problem of awareness still exists then.

But I do think "I think, therefore I am" is ample proof to a self-aware organism of its own existence- this principle, which as you probably know, was proposed by Rene Descartes as his Cogito, or the one thing he could easily prove without any other information but his mind, has never to my recollection been disproven.

Quote
If I make my choises based on how I feel about the choise.
The feeling makes the choise, not me.
Because there is no "me".

Maybe there is a thing like consciousness but it is so queer that it can't make it's own decisions.
It is merely an observer?

If this was right, why the need for the observer?

Well, I do agree that if Materialism is true then we don't have free-will, and so basically can't really make choices, but even if awareness only existed as an observer believing it was making choices, as you say (and I would agree with, within materialism), it would still be a (queer, yes) type of awareness, and this still subject to Chalmers' "Hard Problem". 

I hate to go on and on about this Chalmer's guy, and how he had problems and stuff, but I think he really highlights the essence of what a person examining the issue philosophically should be take note of.

Quote
If this was right, why the need for the observer?
And that is where I think it logically eliminates that.
Which only leaves matter.
A biological organism that is build for progress.

Well, it comes down not to propiety, but reality, I guess. No one can say why there is awareness, or if it should be there, but that does not change the fact it is, even if it is not needed for the function of an organism.

Another merely accademic issue, lol, but still important: most biologists, especially Materialists, do not believe evolution is progress based, but rather generates a timeline of organisms which were statistically likely in a given situation to produce offspring. In the famous moth case, a moth whose species was mostly light colored, to blend into birch trees, later evolved to have mostly darker individuals, as industrialization darkened trees, later, with better pollution standards, they went back to the lighter kind! So you can see there is no real progress per se, but rather adaptation to environment. But I am splitting hairs, and you probably understood this, despite the wording.



sk8chik:

Quote
wow thanks again Stillwater

I think the fundamental discrepancy in defense of materialism is the definition of "consciousness". A machine can be programmed to act like an eye and interpret light and analyze it, and say understand that the light it is receiving is blue. That merely gives the machine the data that it has seen blue light, with which it can manipulate/use that data. But that is entirely different from the conscious experience of actually seeing blue light.

Yes, Chalmers points out just this idea in the above excerpt Wink

It looks like I am writing a book, lol....
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 01:46:19 by Stillwater » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2007, 23:26:33 »

It has been my belief that if one were able to break the temporal barrier of the now it would be by the use of free will. As no notable occurrence of past or future life experiences have been documented in my opinion there has been no documentation of free will.

Fascinating how a thread of past life has turned to a question of free will. In my estimation the two are entanglement, so what is free will? Most have the idea that the ability to make a choice is free will, but then that is materialism based on which decision is deemed more beneficial to a desired outcome. Yet the end result is most like the result if no decision was made in the first place.

A hypothesis may be drawn that we the observer the EGO are respondent to the physical nature that we inhabit. That we respond in like manner to the transitional metals which compose the physical form, and that to have “FREE WILL” would be to break away from the cycle of ascension and decay of atomic reaction.

Many years ago I participated in an occult group that regressed people into past and future lives. It was amazing to hear a person speak 6 th century Spanish and tell the tail of King Author. The tail of Author’s Court wasn’t in itself amazing but in 6 th century Spanish was as I knew this person had no ability in speaking any other language but English. Another tail I will impart was that of a person that was projected into his future where he saw his intended wife. Within a year he did meet this person and they did marry.

The idea of this is, where is the free will? I used to do tarot and was extremely accurate 100 percent accurate. If people were to know free will then these chains of action to reaction would be broken and future events would be static. Once again Chaos would reign as the lines of predestination would be broken, the transition of metal the atomic structure would have no meaning. When people talk about the end of time, it will happen when people learn of true free will.

Idealism, I think, therefore I am: materialism, I feel, therefore I must be. Yen/Yang, same coin, now it’s your toss.

If anybody wants to start a group to do research into temporal lives, the past/future, I’m willing to do what I can do.
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2023, 01:34:55 »

Yes, I know this is very very old thread but you guys need to know about the Christos Experiment which is a way to induce past life-like experiences.

The Awareness Techniques were introduced by a couple from Florida, William and Diane Swygard. The Christos Experiment is another name for this technique. There is a book by G M Glaskin called Windows of the Mind which is out of print I believe but can be found on Amazon if necessary.

Here are the details (as screenshots)

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