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Between Yesod and Malkuth

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Papus79
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Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 1st, 2018, 7:56 am

I'm taking a second to consider a deep paradox, one that has a way of either making rather vapid new agers of people on one hand or forging deeper convictions of reductive materialism on the other when people encounter the information.

It's in reference to how many NDE survivors end up claiming that the primary lesson they learned and took back from their experience was that their thoughts and ideas create their reality.

Here and there I still find myself listening to these stories because I'm interested in shaking out their implications. On one level I don't think there's a lot of argument as to whether the experiences themselves are real (ie. that the person isn't giving the most accurate account of the experience that they know how to). Regardless of whether they're reading what they're seeing correctly or not I'd also have to argue the odds are good that they are encountering deeper geometries in their own structure and that's what these geometries read off.

The question - how to explain such a disparity, between a world by all intents and purposes so fixed that we have no intuitive reason that our thoughts make any difference unless we successfully act on them on one hand and an interior zone on the other where it seems like everything is sort of free-floating and ruled by something like a blending law of averages, ie. a place that's essentially an accrual of all ideas given, not just symbolically but perhaps literally in its consequences.


In taking a shot of this it's tough to avoid an analogy to the Kabbalistic/Qabalistic Tree of Life, in particular Yesod, Malkuth, and the 32nd path of Tav. Malkuth is considered to represent the physical world that we know in that model. Yesod is considered to be the formative place, ie. the zone where vivid and relatively completed ideas find their place to lock in. Between those two you have Tav as the path by which these ideas become what we might think of as physical. Do we know per say what 'physical' means? We clearly know how we're bounded by it, we clearly know that there are a lot of things we can't do without very direct consequences. We know that our personal will seems to have very little to do with what the weather is like, how gravity works, the structural density of steel or stone, how much food we need to stay alive, etc..

There seem to be increasing numbers of physicists who consider the universe to be information based. I watched a Jim Al-Khalili hosted documentary a while back where he ran off sort of a brief history of physics relevant to the topic and hit on our first tries at manipulating data, first through written word and symbol but also then considering some of our inventions like the fabric loom, which in a lot of ways with its punch cards had some notable features in common with the first simple computer. The point of the punches is to act as guide hooks in a way, and perhaps an even more vivid sense of this sort of thing in motion were Heron of Alexandria's mechanical plays that had a wooden post with various strategic hooks manipulating levers while sand in the base of the box filtered out. One of the things Jim did mention is the Landauer principle with respect to the destruction of energy, I looked around and noticed that scientists are finding that this doesn't need to be paid in terms of heat dissipation but either way it seems like the destruction of one bit of information does require system input of some type.

In a way, if I were to try entertaining the model that there were a place that functions, and self reports accurately, quite in alignment with Yesod then it's likely that this condenses into a sort of thatch and we're at the other side of that weaving process.

One story that was a bit interesting in illustrating this point was part of Eben Alexander's experience. While the whole NDE was interesting in its own ways he had a set of experiences coming back to where things were chaotic and, I wouldn't necessarily say irrational but very strange in terms of being something like a fevered video game. His brain was leading him all over the place (recovering from really bad viral meningitis), I can think of analogies to this sort of scenario in some movies that seek to explore uncomfortable subconscious spaces where the narrative and experience of the cinematography gets equal parts dark and loopy, Flying Lotus's Kuso wasn't a bad example of this. That zone of mechanical irrationality seems like it could be something like the coherence buffer between a place where we have to treat every interaction with nature as if everything beyond our bodies is beyond our agency on one hand and a zone where the history of our thoughts is our reality on the other.


I get that this post might not have been as materialist-friendly as it could have been, I'm not trying to reify these ideas down to brain chemicals, neurons, etc. here and I'd consider that if the best and brightest neurologists aren't there either its probably beyond my pay grade. What I do see is that we do have mysteries of how the human mind works, a lot of people would debate whether all of one's consciousness is brain or whether it does come in contact with broader pools of data in various ways. Even with materialist viewpoints there are deeper geometries that you might be able to interpret without actually being an integral part of them, much like our eyes can see a lot of things that in any technical sense aren't us. Either way it is challenging to consider that we would have spaces, in animal brains, that would report back to us that thought makes reality - it's something too foreign to anything we've ever done and at the most optimistic it could fit the description of what some juncture of the brain does, it's one thing perhaps to say our brains record history, its another to claim de facto that this is what these people must be experiencing (ie. a vivid encounter with one piece of their own brain tissue). Even to go there a lot of other things have to be contended with, particularly what kinds of oddities they bring back with them.

I have to leave for work soon but I think that's a good enough place to leave this.

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Papus79
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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 2nd, 2018, 9:47 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 7:56 am
One of the things Jim did mention is the Landauer principle with respect to the destruction of energy
One big correction I need to make - this should be 'destruction of information'.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Greta » October 3rd, 2018, 6:05 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 7:56 am
I'm taking a second to consider a deep paradox, one that has a way of either making rather vapid new agers of people on one hand or forging deeper convictions of reductive materialism on the other when people encounter the information.

It's in reference to how many NDE survivors end up claiming that the primary lesson they learned and took back from their experience was that their thoughts and ideas create their reality.
Consider that there are entire cities that started out as someone's vision, and they brought it into being. I love reading about NDEs and take them much more seriously than most other science fans, but I'm cautious in how I interpret the accounts.
Papus79 wrote:Here and there I still find myself listening to these stories because I'm interested in shaking out their implications. On one level I don't think there's a lot of argument as to whether the experiences themselves are real (ie. that the person isn't giving the most accurate account of the experience that they know how to). Regardless of whether they're reading what they're seeing correctly or not I'd also have to argue the odds are good that they are encountering deeper geometries in their own structure and that's what these geometries read off.
It could be but I think the accounts of experiences will be more instructive than interpretations. Years on philosophy forums has taught me to be exceedingly cynical about how people interpret the dynamics of reality. Our wishes and expectations can so easily colour our perceptions.
Papus79 wrote:The question - how to explain such a disparity, between a world by all intents and purposes so fixed that we have no intuitive reason that our thoughts make any difference unless we successfully act on them on one hand and an interior zone on the other where it seems like everything is sort of free-floating and ruled by something like a blending law of averages, ie. a place that's essentially an accrual of all ideas given, not just symbolically but perhaps literally in its consequences.
As per above. Our thoughts create our own mental landscape and, with work, we can recreate our visions. I don't think the recovered people meant that thoughts create reality as per Uri Geller's act, the direct control of gross by the subtle - that's akin to moving a boulder with a feather. However, consider how many thoughts have been stored for perpetuity by humans and how that body of knowledge is shaping reality.
Papus79 wrote:The point of the punches is to act as guide hooks in a way, and perhaps an even more vivid sense of this sort of thing in motion were Heron of Alexandria's mechanical plays that had a wooden post with various strategic hooks manipulating levers while sand in the base of the box filtered out. One of the things Jim did mention is the Landauer principle with respect to the destruction of energy, I looked around and noticed that scientists are finding that this doesn't need to be paid in terms of heat dissipation but either way it seems like the destruction of one bit of information does require system input of some type.

In a way, if I were to try entertaining the model that there were a place that functions, and self reports accurately, quite in alignment with Yesod then it's likely that this condenses into a sort of thatch and we're at the other side of that weaving process.
I would see us more as threads of the fabric rather than on the other side, but I'm probably confused by the Yiddish concepts which are new to me. This is all from the Kabbalah, isn't it? The geometrical approach reminds me of Gurdjieff's, and I know borrowed plenty from the Kabbalah.

Re: data manipulation, as per a chat in another thread, I see this as leverage. The human capacity to remember and learn from the past and to project the future provided a tremendous leverage over other species. Our problem solving results in far less work to achieve the same ends as other species that don't solve problems but simply handle incidents as they arise.
Papus79 wrote:One story that was a bit interesting in illustrating this point was part of Eben Alexander's experience. While the whole NDE was interesting in its own ways he had a set of experiences coming back to where things were chaotic and, I wouldn't necessarily say irrational but very strange in terms of being something like a fevered video game. His brain was leading him all over the place (recovering from really bad viral meningitis), I can think of analogies to this sort of scenario in some movies that seek to explore uncomfortable subconscious spaces where the narrative and experience of the cinematography gets equal parts dark and loopy, Flying Lotus's Kuso wasn't a bad example of this. That zone of mechanical irrationality seems like it could be something like the coherence buffer between a place where we have to treat every interaction with nature as if everything beyond our bodies is beyond our agency on one hand and a zone where the history of our thoughts is our reality on the other.
His NDE was especially weird. It was one of the few I've read about that included a hellish episode, smothered underground. I always found it interesting that the underground was considered to be Hellish. I consider the underground to be part of our beautiful planet, full of wonderful exotic geology and simple life that leads to the very heart of the Earth, its core like a little piece of fledgling hot solar system material warming us from within. Meanwhile, deep underground in "hell" is no less hostile to life than up in the heavens - they both will suffocate you in next to no time.

The commonalities between NDEs may be more instructive than the oddities like Alexander's IMO. Flashes of the past. Total darkness and disembodiment. The bright warming light and being drawn to it. Also, the main after-effects of NDEs seem to be more objectivity and calmness, with less anthropocentric perspectives, more appreciation of everything, with much more interest in the non human lives and non living entities that surround us and are so often taken for granted.
Papus79 wrote:What I do see is that we do have mysteries of how the human mind works, a lot of people would debate whether all of one's consciousness is brain or whether it does come in contact with broader pools of data in various ways.
I am close to accepting that a sense being will not be understood in my lifetime. No one understands it but there's various hypotheses and plenty of speculations. It may be that intelligent creations of the future, lacking in a sense of being themselves, may be in a better (or at least more objective) position to explain it.

Otherwise, most of the content of human minds consists of a person's culture, of their humanity, their mammalian nature, their chordate nature, biological nature, Earthly nature etc (just keep panning out). Our individual differences to others are ultimately trivial. The trivial appears to be significant, eg. between Arabs and Israelis, Republicans and Democrats because human society tends to ignore everything bar our culture.

This graphical equivalent would be graphs with a non zero axed, designed to emphasise differences: https://callingbullshit.org/tools/tools ... _axes.html

In terms of similarity, each of us is akin to just one more herring in the school, so to speak.
Papus79 wrote:Even with materialist viewpoints there are deeper geometries that you might be able to interpret without actually being an integral part of them, much like our eyes can see a lot of things that in any technical sense aren't us. Either way it is challenging to consider that we would have spaces, in animal brains, that would report back to us that thought makes reality - it's something too foreign to anything we've ever done and at the most optimistic it could fit the description of what some juncture of the brain does, it's one thing perhaps to say our brains record history, its another to claim de facto that this is what these people must be experiencing (ie. a vivid encounter with one piece of their own brain tissue). Even to go there a lot of other things have to be contended with, particularly what kinds of oddities they bring back with them.
Again, I reckon there's issues with interpretation. Humans are still gradually tweezing out magical thinking; I know there's still plenty within me from the less knowing culture of my childhood. So the furthest I can go with you here is that thoughts can impact on quantum experiments - subtle things can always impact other subtle things, but they can only impact substantial things via leverage.

One speculative possibility is that humans, with our future prediction capacities (faulty as they are), dimly perceive the potentials of life (and post life) in millions or even billions of years of years to have godlike capabilities but we cannot imagine the technology that could bring it to being.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by ThomasHobbes » October 3rd, 2018, 6:36 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 7:56 am

I have to leave for work soon but I think that's a good enough place to leave this.
This is a Philosophy website, not mysticism.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 3rd, 2018, 9:55 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 6:36 pm
This is a Philosophy website, not mysticism.
I would think someone just having a thread sharing personal experiences would be more under that umbrella of criticism.

Would you say that questions about its constructs and ideas implied from its more broadly shared experiences are non-philosophy and if so in what way? Also how would religion, theism, or mythology sit in better standing if we were to take a caustic enough definition to jettison anything pertaining to mysticism?

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 3rd, 2018, 10:04 pm

Greta wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 6:05 pm
It could be but I think the accounts of experiences will be more instructive than interpretations. Years on philosophy forums has taught me to be exceedingly cynical about how people interpret the dynamics of reality. Our wishes and expectations can so easily colour our perceptions.
What catches my interest is it's one of those few areas left that are still considered a slush fund and it bothers me that it would stay that way. I get the sense that there are too many people resting on comfortable assumptions about consciousness, in one direction or the other, and the underpinnings are probably a lot more interesting than either cluster of believers would estimate.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Greta » October 3rd, 2018, 11:50 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 10:04 pm
Greta wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 6:05 pm
It could be but I think the accounts of experiences will be more instructive than interpretations. Years on philosophy forums has taught me to be exceedingly cynical about how people interpret the dynamics of reality. Our wishes and expectations can so easily colour our perceptions.
What catches my interest is it's one of those few areas left that are still considered a slush fund and it bothers me that it would stay that way. I get the sense that there are too many people resting on comfortable assumptions about consciousness, in one direction or the other, and the underpinnings are probably a lot more interesting than either cluster of believers would estimate.
Probably true, Papus. There is a rationalist tendency to treat weak (anecdotal) evidence as no evidence at all. It's very efficient but mechanistic. When anecdotes are plentiful enough, and seemingly delivered without an agenda, then that's worth investigating. Generally, when people have almost died they probably have bigger fish to fry than to dream up fantastical publicity seeking tales.

Interpretation remains an issue, though. If a person claims to have seen Jesus or Mary or some other historical character whom they wouldn't know from a bar of soap then there's a problem with interpretation, especially when the holy figure is Caucasian and speaks with one of the Anglo accents :) Ditto "black Jesus", "East Asian Jesus" and so forth.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 4th, 2018, 12:26 am

Greta wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 11:50 pm
Interpretation remains an issue, though. If a person claims to have seen Jesus or Mary or some other historical character whom they wouldn't know from a bar of soap then there's a problem with interpretation, especially when the holy figure is Caucasian and speaks with one of the Anglo accents :) Ditto "black Jesus", "East Asian Jesus" and so forth.
What I'm about to say is where I might open myself to judgment from some but - I don't know that anything of this would be particularly surprising, for example with what you described archetypes as existing rather than conceptual things and our minds drawing their own cheat interpretations of them, if we live in a panpsychist universe. It actually gets way easier to understand and relies less on bending one's mind around survival of the fittest in nature over millions of years yielding religious and mystic inclinations and experiences in people, let alone that there's any reason for there to be something that it's like to be an animal of any type whose sole purpose is killing, eating, and shagging - if we're that unimpressive it's tough to imagine it being particularly special. I agree with you that interpretations are tricky, and it's a lot like teasing apart dream symbolism, but at the same time that sort of points to interiority and subjectivity perhaps on many if not most scales.

There's a particular well-known east coast US Hermeticist who recently wrote a book about egregores. He has his own rather stoic but nevertheless hands on and practical concept of them as a practitioner when, if we flip to philosophies like functionalism or panpsychism, they become evidence of Ned Block's China Brain not being a disproof of the premise but rather an unexpected consequence that we may still be coming to terms with. This is where I really tend to think so many of these ideas are approaching the same issues from different angles, just that they're often divided perhaps by political or ideological allergies. Technically I really don't even care of people agree or believe in this stuff, it's more that these analogies bridge and everyone has their own names for them or ways of thinking about them.

With crossing the materialist/other divide it can be challenging I suppose at times to agree on what to talk about but if these are currently black-boxed categories I think someone who has a complex view of their physicalism and is willing to step out into emergent phenomena probably can follow this a fair distance and offer a lot of good insights.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by ThomasHobbes » October 4th, 2018, 5:37 am

Papus79 wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 9:55 pm
ThomasHobbes wrote:
October 3rd, 2018, 6:36 pm
This is a Philosophy website, not mysticism.
I would think someone just having a thread sharing personal experiences would be more under that umbrella of criticism.

Would you say that questions about its constructs and ideas implied from its more broadly shared experiences are non-philosophy and if so in what way?
"its"? "its" what exactly?
You are leaning in the direction of psychology.

Also how would religion, theism, or mythology sit in better standing if we were to take a caustic enough definition to jettison anything pertaining to mysticism?
The internal workings of all religion are mysticism. Philosophy can be interested in religion as a phenomenon, its ethical implications, but not inherent factors which have no justifiable logic.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 4th, 2018, 7:25 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
October 4th, 2018, 5:37 am
"its"? "its" what exactly?
You are leaning in the direction of psychology.
Psychology and/or neurology if were to take the most physical considerations. If all of these experiences are what it's like to be a part of the brain that records information in a particular way then it does put it behind an interesting firewall that we usually don't cross. Either way I do think these things are interesting to at least try to map in terms of selfhood and how it works. Some say the variety of potential hallucinations one could have are infinite but I'm not sure I'd throw my hands up like that when they hang together in clusters (also the term hallucination is another one of those black-box terms). Intelligibility might not be the easiest thing to establish here but I doubt establishing it is truly impossible, rather it's likely more accurate to say it's just not low-hanging fruit.
Would that be suggesting perhaps that one could have a philosophy of science, since it's a human doing, but not a philosophy of nature? Just trying to hash out how this concept boundary works.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 4th, 2018, 7:27 am

Looks like the quotes didn't work out well on that last post. The last could sentences should have read:
ThomasHobbes wrote:
October 4th, 2018, 5:37 am
Also how would religion, theism, or mythology sit in better standing if we were
The internal workings of all religion are mysticism. Philosophy can be interested in religion as a phenomenon, its ethical implications, but not inherent factors which have no justifiable logic.
Would that be suggesting perhaps that one could have a philosophy of science, since it's a human doing, but not a philosophy of nature? Just trying to hash out how this concept boundary works.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by ThomasHobbes » October 4th, 2018, 3:01 pm

Papus79 wrote:
October 4th, 2018, 7:27 am
Looks like the quotes didn't work out well on that last post. The last could sentences should have read:
ThomasHobbes wrote:
October 4th, 2018, 5:37 am
Also how would religion, theism, or mythology sit in better standing if we were
The internal workings of all religion are mysticism. Philosophy can be interested in religion as a phenomenon, its ethical implications, but not inherent factors which have no justifiable logic.
Would that be suggesting perhaps that one could have a philosophy of science, since it's a human doing, but not a philosophy of nature? Just trying to hash out how this concept boundary works.
Well obviously.
We do indeed have a philosophy of science but not nature.
But the point I was making goes deeper.
Philosophy has no interest in Yesod and Malkuth, whatever they are, any more than it would be interested in the differences between Batman and Robin.
Philosophy might ask what does it mean that such ideas as Batman and Robin have resonance with people's interest, and might be interested in the ethical consequences of thrusting super hero culture at children. But what he has on his utility belt is of oblique concern.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 4th, 2018, 3:26 pm

I was with you until you started talking about Batman, Robin, and utility belts. Can you clarify that a last bit?

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Eduk » October 5th, 2018, 10:43 am

https://theness.com/neurologicablog/ind ... periences/

The question is not whether or not people have such experiences – the question is how to interpret them.

The sensation of floating outside one’s body can be reliably induced by suppressing that part of the brain that makes us feel as if we possess our bodies. The experience is identical to that reported by those who have had an NDE. This experience can be replicated by drugs or magnetic stimulation. There are even reports (I have had one such patient) of people who have a typical NDE experience during seizures. The bright light can be explained as a function of hypoxia (relative lack of oxygen) either to the retina or the visual cortex. Any everything else is simply the culturally appropriate hallucinations of a hypoxic brain.

In short NDE's show nothing other than that which can be accounted for by the failing (or at least under pressure) functioning of the brain. This has been demonstrated repeatedly neurologically. If you, or anyone, would like to suggest otherwise then you will need evidence. Failing any evidence I will go with the scientific consensus and the solution with the least assumptions which has been demonstrated to work over and over again.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Between Yesod and Malkuth

Post by Papus79 » October 5th, 2018, 6:02 pm

I don't know whether this will or won't surprise you, I'm really not concerned about convincing people of what to believe on this, and being something of a pessimist about human analysis I'm not sure how much voluntary choice people have over where they can keep objectivity and where they can't. I think the only thing that gets tiring is when people have really low fidelity arguments for or against, like crystal cat ladies vs new atheists, when it looks like they've done maybe fifteen or twenty minutes of their own research in total and picked their dogma. Everyone has a right to do that, I won't tell people what they can and can't do in their private lives or how to budget their attention, I just don't think it helps carry the examination of these experiences anywhere new or interesting when we're discussing some iteration of that.

The NDE literature is a pretty deep well, lots of anomalies that have to be hashed out as to whether they're best resolved by selection bias creating the appearances of extremely rare probability events or whether there might be anomalous states of consciousness that need further study. No matter what the outcome, whether they are proof of extended perception or proof of how many zones of operation the brain has or how big one's own internal landscape is, there's quite a bit for us to learn about experience and how it works. I don't think people get a proper sense of all the dimensions and contingencies of the issue unless they actually sit down with it for a fair while, or they do, get queasy, and run in the opposite direction. What I'd actually argue as a case for mystical diagrams, like the Tree of Life, is that they've been held in common for so long and across so many groups of people serious about these inquiries that they likely do hold a reasonable resemblance to the shape of our subjective landscapes. I spent quite a while agnostic on whether they were explaining the subjective in the neurological sense or in a sense potentially broader. The changes in my opinion that have been cumulative and as it's the result of a lot of piecemeal observations I wouldn't imagine that I could replicate the believably just by writing such things down.

The thing that troubles me with saying there's a scientific consensus on NDE's is that you can watch experts really drill into some topics with PhD and post-PhD level professional prowess and attention to detail (usually something that scales well for instrumental and/or mathematical analysis), then shift to something like an elementary school level of analysis, and that reduction of sophistication seems to be proportional to how much the topic makes them uncomfortable. I could be wrong about the depth of the neurological argument for NDE's being a closed case as a known brain event, if anyone has any really great articles they'd want to share I'd love to read them, just that if someone does have that article I haven't seen it may indeed by my first time actually being in a thread on this topic where such good evidence has been offered. If I'm right about the current state of knowledge most of the literature simply being dismissive or buying into suggestions toward dismissal then NDE's as reporting consciousness being able to extend beyond brain cells is more properly still in the unsubstantiated category. I think what we might agree on is that the more hand-wavy explanations are likely to dissipate, especially as with the coming issue of AI and our desire to assess the risks related to that.

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