Survival?

Survival?

[“Css” = consciousness]

Is it possible we might survive death? To hazard an answer to this question we shall start with the most fundamental (and traditionally impossible) question of all.

I

Why is there anything rather than nothing?

As Robert Nozick reports, his daughter Emily, then aged 12, suggested the following: something cannot be created from nothing. Therefore something is the natural state.

I would add to this luminous insight the fact that consciousness cannot be created from unconsciousness, i.e. css cannot be created from matter. Consciousness is therefore the kind of something which is the natural state.

It logically follows from this that the Universe was created by a Consciousness.

It will be asked what created that Css, and then in turn what created that? But this question in fact will not do. We cannot have an infinite regression backwards in time, since in the real world (as opposed to the theoretical world of mathematics) completed infinities are impossible. (This is because the very definition of “infinity” means that an infinity cannot be complete or completed.) Time will therefore have been created at the same moment as the Universe itself. (In fact this is the orthodox contemporary view among scientists.)

This means therefore that at the beginning of things, “before” or rather “outside” the creation of Time itself, there was a “self-caused Mind”, “ens causa sui”, or the fact that explains itself. I would suggest that this “fact that explains itself” is the pure fact of css. The beginning of everything, or rather the stable eternal fact, is Mind.

II

If this is accepted, then it follows that the Universe exists because of css. It is either there so that css can be there, or it is there because css has created it.

And indeed we do need to suppose a Creator. For, as a famous calculation of Roger Penrose points out, the odds against the Universe being created by chance are so huge as to make such chance creation inconceivable.

We have found a purpose to the U. That purpose is the existence of a conscious Being or beings. There is good reason therefore to hope for our survival.

II

“Where” is css? And “when” is css? It is always here and now. We have customarily got this question upside down, for css is the locator, not the located. The events of life occur inside the space of phenomenal css.

The Upanishads’ “second bird” (the css that watches, not the phenomenal css that feeds, enjoys, sings, has sex) is, “at the back of” phenomenal surface css, the deep css which quietly and changelessly observes the passage of time. If you sit quietly enough you can (almost) feel it.

There is thus phenomenal css which lives through the everyday affairs of life; and deep css hidden (some say invisibly) within it.

Time is unlike other dimensions in that it is incomplete. For one can move only forwards in time, not to and fro as in the other three dimensions. Phenomenal css, we may speculate, is the result of the dimension of time having had one of its halves removed, thus causing the forward movement of time. Since deep css sits and watches changelessly, we presume that the latter is complete, i.e. still possesses both halves of its dimensionality. This is why it continues changelessly, and is recognizably the same when I am 78 as when I was 7.

Note the importance of css from a cosmological point of view. It is entangled with, and very likely causes, the forward movement of time.

We might speculate that deep css is “set back” in the Quantum Vacuum, from which phenomenal css drives time in the World. Certainly it feels as if our css is set back from the World, gazing as it were from one room into another through a false mirror. In short the world resembles a virtual reality. If it is a virtual reality, then clearly when death comes we survive the world.

However, if the phenomenal world is “inside” our csses, then the phenomenal Universe is presumably “inside” a total css which we might term that of “God”.

III

Materialism is the belief that there is nothing apart from what we apprehend with our senses. (Should one seriously believe something both so arrogant and so narrow?)

We may compare the brain to a television set, whose workings we can carefully examine and work out just how it works. But none of this will tell us anything about the programmes which are broadcast to the set. Similarly even an exhaustive knowledge of the machinery of the brain is not going to tell you anything about the phenomenal life of css.

We must reject materialism. It would be strange if css were created by matter, since matter is a set of appearances, and the phenomenal field is what creates the appearances of matter, namely the way we “see”, “touch” or hear” it via our physical senses. Whatever matter may “really” be, our css is shut out from, as in the series of paintings by Magritte entitled The Human Condition – in which the reality of a scene is concealed by one’s own picture of it.

Matter and css are connected through their mutual opposition. Css is percipere, matter is percipi. Css entirely and solely perceives and cannot be perceived, matter is entirely and solely perceived and cannot perceive. Neither shares any of the features that the other has. This is their definition. Css is therefore entirely active, matter is entirely passive. It follows that matter is locked into its own unconscious nature as matter. It must be a creation not a creator, and bears the same relation to css as the dream does to the dreamer. It is css which is the creator.

Apart from their obvious contradictoriness, or rather complementarity, the nature of the connexion between css and matter, as between mind and brain, is unknown. It obviously cannot be known – or at least cannot be known in a scientific way. This is because of the inaccessibility of css to investigation of the scientific sort. One should compare the impossibility of observing Free Will at work, or of understanding its workings rationally.

Css’s whole nature is that it perceives but cannot be perceived, whereas matter’s whole nature is that it can be perceived but is incapable of perceiving. Css is an impregnable castle. Not only is it impossible to look into anyone else’s css, but even if one could do so, then one would still be seeing what is going on in that css “through one’s own eyes”: in other words one would not be seeing through their eyes after all. Thus, not only can css not be stepped into from outside; equally css cannot step into either css or matter from outside.

These appear to be metaphysical restrictions embedded in the nature of things; and it is no good scientists, however ingenious, imagining that we can get round them. Particularly since css, being of the nature of the observer not of the observed, cannot be observed (except to a very limited extent indirectly).

As I mentioned above, the nature of the connexion between mind and body is unknown and, I assume, unknowable scientifically – though this does not exclude philosophical theories. However, there can be no doubt that there is such a connexion: every minute of every hour we experience our bodies responding to the commands of our minds, and our minds responding to the messages of our senses. This is known practically; to deny it is absurd.

Materialist science nowadays asserts (as its presuppositions demand of it) that css “must” be the product of physical processes. However, this is impossible. For how can css arise from what is, by definition, incapable of css? Since matter possesses none of the qualities of css, it is logically impossible that css can be derived from it. In fact – as one can quite easily find out by trying — it is impossible to imagine how anything conscious could be “manufactured” out of unconscious ingredients. Feedback is sometimes suggested as a model. However, this plainly won’t do, because the issue is not feedback, but consciousness of feedback.

IV

Css is thus (1) interlocked with one of the four basic dimensions of the U, namely time. It
(2) is the opposite / inverse of matter;
(3) cannot be created by matter;
(4) must therefore either have been created independently of matter
or be an eternal denizen of the Universe.
But if it were created independently, as it were, out of some material the opposite of matter –then what would that substance be? It would be css. Thus css must indeed be an eternal denizen of the U.

V

Moreover matter is an affair of temporary appearances;
Whereas phenomenal css is involved with passing time, and “drives” it; deep css seems to be in harmony with permanent, still, eternal time.

Note that css is sometimes described as “ghost-like”, resembling gossamer, or a faint breeze – as if it had nothing “solid”, “substantial” about it. But no, this is delusory. Where do the experiences of “solidity”, “substantiality” originate? In the senses, i.e. in the qualia, the fundamental data of consciousness itself. It is the senses which give us the experiences of solidity and substance– the reason we think the world to be full of solid, sharp, uncomfortable things, so “unlike” our csses!

Actually therefore the whole opinion that we need a special explanation how “solid matter” could interact with “ghostly awareness” rests upon a failure to see that awareness is the solid thing, and matter the ghost. Of course phenomenal css can be conscious of matter, for it’s what phenomenal css does and is for. (As for seeing how it’s done, we’re not going to be able to do that, because css cannot be entered into from outside, as I observed above.)

VI

Since css cannot be created by matter, it cannot have been created at our births but, as Wordsworth famously says in “Intimations of Immortality”, bequeathed to us from another world. But this is a misleading way to put it. We are our css, we therefore came from this other world. But if css cannot be created by matter, then it cannot be destroyed by matter, and it is impossible that in themselves the decay, collapse and death of the physical body could affect the survival of the soul.

“Death” is after all the collapse of physical processes, i.e. it is an affair of matter not mind. It’s true that towards the ends of their lives people often “lose their minds”. But this is surely a physical thing: css is cut off by physical deterioration from brain activities such as vision, hearing, short term memory, etc. It’s like the machine breaking down while the activator of the machine sits helpless and frustrated.

VII

Why are we ignorant about these matters?

Kant very convincingly argued as follows. We have not been given certainty about an afterlife, God, etc, because that would lead to our bribing and flattering God in the hope of reward, rather than working out a sincere moral path for ourselves. For the same reason we must not be provided by religion with a ready-made set of “commandments”; for then we might act only so as to benefit ourselves. It is morally necessary for us to be uncertain about life after death.

VIII: Conclusion

Nonetheless the arguments are powerful; and there is therefore a strong likelihood that our css continues after death, though in quite what manner it is impossible (from this side of that dark curtain) to see.

G.D.M.

Bibliography

Hofstadter, Douglas (2007) I am a Strange Loop, Basic Books, New York
Martin, Graham Dunstan (2005) Does It Matter? Floris, Edinburgh
Nozick, Robert (1984) Philosophical Explanations, OUP. Oxford
Penrose, Roger (1989) The Emperor’s New Mind, OUP. Oxford & NY