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Author Topic:   Atheist and agnostic views on reincarnation and consciousness
Member (Idle past 2300 days)
Posts: 3221
Joined: 07-04-2004

Message 16 of 21 (346074)
09-02-2006 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Ben!
09-02-2006 3:43 PM

But the problem with that is even though at the broad level, consciousness is "similar" amongst people, surely 100s and 100s of environmental and genetic factors (such as your mother being a drugaddict) means that once you go beyond the surface similarities, there are millions and millions of differences? Plus of course, once you are born, environmental factors cause further divergence?

All you really seem to be saying is that the same variables will produce similar results - that seems a world away from any sense of reincarnation.

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Posts: 509
Joined: 07-20-2006

Message 17 of 21 (346075)
09-02-2006 3:51 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Ben!
09-02-2006 3:40 PM

Since your stomach is structurally identical to mine and your digestive processes are also identical to mine, I'm wondering how well you enjoyed that pizza I ate last night.
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Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005

Message 18 of 21 (346083)
09-02-2006 4:09 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Ben!
09-02-2006 3:35 PM

I am saying that we don't seem to be thinking of consciousness as a property of individuals, but of systems.

But we also think of individuality as a property of systems, so doesn't that connect the consciousness to the individual?

How similar do they need to be to consider the consciousnesses the same?

Let's look at an example. Suppose that I could write down all of my beliefs in the form of English sentences. And suppose that you could do the same. Maybe it would turn out that we produce the identical lists of sentences. Does that make our beliefs the same? I don't think so. For beliefs are relational. And where I figure in the relation in my beliefs, you would figure in the relation with your beliefs. So that would make them different beliefs.
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Silent H
Member (Idle past 3992 days)
Posts: 7405
From: satellite of love
Joined: 12-11-2002

Message 19 of 21 (346173)
09-03-2006 4:23 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Ben!
09-02-2006 3:35 PM

I think I am in total agreement with nwr's position.

then two systems that have the similar functional properties and architectures should have "similar consciousness". How similar do they need to be to consider the consciousnesses the same?

That two systems "act" the same and so produce the same result does not mean that they are the same. People crank out computers and other devices which "interact" in a low level AI sort of way all the time. Though each may act in an identical fashion to any other device they are not seen as the same device.

Why does multiplicity and similarity suggest identicality? In the end each of those devices (and ourselves) will distinguish the others as different and "outside" themselves and so something that is NOT the same.

If you define consciousness functionally, then there's no limitation to the number of times the "same" consciousness arises or how many intances of the same thing you can have at once.

If I am getting what you are driving at then its an interesting concept. Are you saying that if we define consciousness based on input/output schemes (emergent properties of a system), then in a technical sense we can have "reincarnations" of systems, sometimes even when they are still alive?

I'd buy that all up until the point that we realize they do not recognize their belonging to each other, and are incapable of sharing all new experiences.

consciousness cannot be shared, cannot be discontinuous, cannot be instantiated in different physical systems with the same functional properties?

I think it may very well be possible. Imagine future tech where we replace portions of a brain (cells and entire nets) so that a person can continue living past major brain damage. With enough patchwork replacement over time that would in a great sense be transferring one mind to a new body's brain. I don't see why we couldn't allow the mind to "travel" in that way, but the mind will have to (be able to) recognize that process.

holmes {in temp decloak from lurker mode}
"What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away." (D.Bros)
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Message 20 of 21 (346187)
09-03-2006 8:42 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Ben!
09-02-2006 3:40 PM


Rather, if you have two systems that are physically similar enough to produce similar consciousnesses, I think we're obligated to call them the same

The two physically similar systems are called brains so, yes, we would call them the same.

The "I" is not reincarnated (the "I" would be tied irrevocably to the body), but consciousness seems not so fickle.

But this is not odd at all since consciousness, being a function of the brain, will arise in any such structure. Thus, each new person has the potential for achieving consciousness as a result of possesing a brain. Reincarnation { the rebirth of a person in a new body after death} is not something I would apply here since you also make it clear that the "I" would not reincarnate.

Edited by sidelined, : No reason given.

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Member (Idle past 3335 days)
Posts: 649
From: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2004

Message 21 of 21 (346202)
09-03-2006 9:54 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Ben!
09-02-2006 1:40 PM

What attaches the "I" to a body or to some set of cells? Is the attachment done at the cellular level? At the neural network level? At the systems / input-output level?

The consciousness is no more attached to the brain than say the colour blue is attached to the sky. Just like the perceived colour of the sky, consciousness is an emergent property of the interactions of the neurons and synaptic connections. It isn’t a ‘thing’ in it’s own right, but the sum of all the activity in the brain.

You can take a symphony apart note by note and examine each in turn but you won’t find the tune, the harmony, the emotion. Same as you can’t take a brain apart bit by it and hope to leave the mind. It don’t work like that the mind and consciousness, like a melody, are the sum of the total interactions in the brain and the nervous system.

Neither mind nor melody has existence outside its regimented structure of notes or neurons but we perceive them both as an almost tangible things despite their illusionary nature.

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