What happens to us when we die?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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Greta
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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 8th, 2018, 7:27 am

Jan Sand wrote:
January 8th, 2018, 4:04 am
Since it is most reasonable to presume that a sensory system in the process of closing down would render nerve impulses for sound and sight as becoming soft and less sharp, why infer that this is more than a decaying nervous system?
Because I am not certain about anything. That includes uncertainty about the usual strongly held beliefs (until new evidence appears) about the nature of reality that atheists tend to hold. The fact is that we cannot accurately perceive our existential situation, other than in the abstract, and still be functional. The stimuli would be overwhelming. Thus our perception is severely filtered. What happens when a filter breaks? It becomes distorted, thus mental illness and/or sensory dysfunction. What if the filter is completely broken? Everything it was filtering out is let in. That may be what's happening in some NDEs.
LuckyR wrote:
January 8th, 2018, 2:32 am
Seems interesting, though I am having trouble imagining a way of proving that this anecdotal info is accurate.
The anecdotes are on record and easy enough to find. Anecdotes are the weakest form of evidence, and this has been a huge problem in psychology and psychiatry which, as with this question, focus on the subjective. How to be objective with the subjective? In psychology, the attempt to resolve the problem resulted in Skinner's behaviourism, which added rigour to a field that had until then been thought of as woo-like. Yet it is limited, not taking agency into account.

When a patient is dying, as with sleep, their world shrinks - bed bound and, as the senses weaken, the subjective is all they have. The objective has nothing of interest - pain, nausea, flashes, beeps, bangs and footsteps, vague voices - and that's when the subjective intensifies, as evidenced in sensory deprivation tanks.

An observer just sees poor old Joan dying in a hospital bed, with numbers applied to various measures like heartbeat, blood pressure and temperature. At that time Joan seems more or less the same as any other old person in bed, covered in tubes, but who can say what's happening in her inner world? She could be comatose, conscious and locked-in, dreaming, or could be having a mind blowing experience of significant import should she survive.

The next step would be to take brain scans but, it's hard to test for. Firstly, transitory phenomena is notoriously difficult to study and, secondly, intrusive measures unrelated to healthcare are not ideal to impose on the dying without their prior consent.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Jan Sand » January 8th, 2018, 8:15 am

My own viewpoint on the nature of perceived reality differs quite a bit from the average. I see what we call consciousness as a figment of the nervous system in general and the brain in particular created by the brain to model whatever stimulation the universe offers into an inner totality within which the brain navigates its survival. This abstraction within which the consciousness experience of reality can never be anything but a fragmentary creation but it is sufficient for the organism's survival. When we are awake the active sensory apparatus feeds information into the model continuously so that necessities can be properly responded to but the brain is continuously guessing what reality might be to make the model correct and creates what we see and hear out of this sensory input. When we sleep external sensory input is shut down but the various possibilities of reality continue to make models out of memories and fabricated suppositions of reality and this is what we call dreams. It is the same reality created process as when we are awake but from an inner source which is subject to all sorts of fantasy. When we are dying this reality modeling continues out of a deteriorating signal input and I doubt the sensations are the same for every different person.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 8th, 2018, 5:31 pm

The quality of these experiences is persistently reported as feeling very different to dreaming. It is a different state again, like peak experiences, and state where one feels exceptionally opened up. Just as matter has a range of possible states, rather than just a couple of them, so does consciousness.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Jan Sand » January 9th, 2018, 12:14 am

I know what you mean. I get that extraordinary feeling when I discover that adding dried breadcrumbs to an omelet to get a different texture. It's a delight in discovering something new but it's frequently just a very transient feeling.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 9th, 2018, 1:39 am

The belief that humans already know everything important there is to know about reality with the unknown being mere detail is pervasive, and is just inflexible, closed and entrenched as theistic belief.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Jan Sand » January 9th, 2018, 1:51 am

Some p3ople surely feel that way but most of us fully live in the jungle of doubts of a universe that rarely smiles on desperate lives.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Jan Sand » January 9th, 2018, 1:54 am

The 3 was unintentional but it emphasizes neatly my point.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 9th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Jan Sand wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 1:51 am
Some p3ople surely feel that way but most of us fully live in the jungle of doubts of a universe that rarely smiles on desperate lives.
It seems to me that one way of coping - and extremely popular with theists and atheists alike - is to convince themselves that the unknown is already largely known. If an afterlife awaits, then it's okay for some personality types. Similarly, if there is no promise of an afterlife for anyone, then that can be readily accepted by certain other personality types.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Hereandnow » January 9th, 2018, 5:21 pm

The question then is, are those that are immune to the angst of dying simply better off because they are stronger, and those that do suffer simply weak?
Or, is this kind of strength something that occludes a more profound sense of being in the world. Those immune to death, so to speak, are likely immune to compassion, empathy and other emotional dimensions of being a person. To add, their kind of strength is, I would hazard, genetically ancient, and in place in the most primitive species.

It is the sensitive ones that are the new arrivals, there, on the cutting edge of evolution.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 9th, 2018, 7:32 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 5:21 pm
The question then is, are those that are immune to the angst of dying simply better off because they are stronger, and those that do suffer simply weak?
Or, is this kind of strength something that occludes a more profound sense of being in the world. Those immune to death, so to speak, are likely immune to compassion, empathy and other emotional dimensions of being a person. To add, their kind of strength is, I would hazard, genetically ancient, and in place in the most primitive species.
Of course, despite brave words and sentiments, almost all of us dread death because that's how the minds of survivors tend to be configured. The declaration that one does not fear death is usually just a form of self hypnosis, like a low ranked tennis player psyching herself up into to believing that she can beat a much better opponent. The basic dynamic is retention of positivity and not giving in to despair so as to function effectively in life.

As far as we know, everything that we are, have been or will be, everything we love, value and hope for, will be utterly destroyed and ground into the dust. It's only a matter of when. Look in the face of your SO, child or pet - one day this loveable being will be gasping for their last breath, probably in horrid discomfort. See those valued possessions? Now see them as rubble and dust. All you can do in the face of inevitable doom is be grateful that you, and they, exist at this time.

How to retain positivity?

Strategy 1. "Make hay while the sun shines" - for tomorrow it will rain

Strategy 2. "Make hay" in the belief/hope that it will help in the afterlife as it does in life.

Either way, hay is still being made and, from the all this death, destruction and horror emerges ever greater sentience and maturity. Little lives make up larger lives, with the life and death situations of the small serving as mere everyday functions of the large. I'm glad that our lives and deaths at least make up some small contribution to larger wholes.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Hereandnow » January 17th, 2018, 3:04 pm

Continuing To Live

Continuing to live — that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries —
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
It varies.

This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise —
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it's chess.

And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
To exist.

And what's the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess,

On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 17th, 2018, 7:28 pm

HAN, I 'have always found poetry to be hard work. Reading it feels as if I am translating each line from another language into something I can understand. Aside from Pam Ayers, of course :)

I'm guessing that this is about wasting our energies on superficial worldly gain - impressing "the blind" and how unsatisfying worldly ideas will seem at the time when we face death and we find out what everyone has been speculating about, but it won't matter any more ...?

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Hereandnow » January 17th, 2018, 7:56 pm

So glad to hear you say that. It is hard work. As it should be. It gives pause to a mind of ready answers. Poetry often says what plain, ever rigorous speech cannot, for it when takes the world as metaphor, in metaphor, novel disclosures are possible.

But what of that "blind impress"? And what is "home"? "Green" evening?

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Greta » January 17th, 2018, 9:00 pm

I thought "We half-identify the blind impress" was that we semi identify with the things we do to impress "the blind". Impressing them is the "profit" - the worldly gain.

Home appears to be either death or where one goes after death, and "green" suggests a new shoot, ie. reincarnation.

It's probably all wrong, though :)

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Re: What happens to us when we die?

Post by Hereandnow » January 17th, 2018, 10:34 pm

In a poem like this, wrong is hard to prove. So many metaphors. I took blind as an adjective modifying impress, meaning through all we have been through something makes an impression, though it does not announce itself clearly. (But then, my romantic idealism tends this way in many things.) What happens when we die? That blind impress of something that has been repressed during the business of living becomes an object of awareness. I like Marlin Brando's response to the question, when your life is done, what will be your final thoughts. He paused and responded," What the hell was that all about?" A very good question.

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