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Tags consciousness , soul

View Poll Results: Please select the statements with which you would generally agree about yourself.
I exist 52 74.29%
I am distinct from my physical body alone. 6 8.57%
I have a soul that exists in reality. 3 4.29%
I and my soul, as distinct from my physical body alone, are not just fictional or legal concepts. 3 4.29%
I understand from my own experience that observing the world and one's body can lead a subject to think that he/she has existence distinguishable from his physical body. 24 34.29%
Object to the Statements/The statements are not clear enough/Planet X/None of the Above (Please explain) 22 31.43%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 70. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 1st January 2018, 02:50 PM   #1
rakovsky
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Lightbulb Does the Soul Exist?

A person appears to be something more in reality than physical brain processes, since it has a soul. The soul appears to be a real, nonmaterial phenomena distinct from the brain and the world's physical elements.

Since the soul is immaterial, to know it directly might be possible only intuitively and by experience. That is, a subject and person can know that he/she himself/herself is a subject and has a soul, but this fact might not be absolutely provable to others outside his/her body. but maybe not absolutely provable conclusively to others. My own experience of consciously looking out at the world is not one that I can directly share with others. From the POV of others outside the subject's body, the subject could be a well-made automaton, a dream, a fictional character.

The Huffington Post mentions some definitions of the soul:
Quote:
Sarah Ban Breathnach: The soul is the spiritual essence of who we really are.

Eckhart Tolle: The soul is your innermost being. The presence that you are beyond form. The consciousness that you are beyond form, that is the soul. That is who you are in essence.

Michael Singer: The indwelling consciousness that watches the mind come and go. That watches the heart come and go, the emotions of the heart. And watches the world pass before you. You, the conscious, the consciousness, the center of being, is soul.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...n_2333335.html



It looks to me that the best way to describe the issue of the soul is by discussing issues of my consciousness and how it relates to me as a subject, that is, a being aware that it is observing the world. It directly appears to me that I am or have a soul looking out from my body at the world and at my body.

This description or evidence involves a self-experience that both I the writer and you the reader have, and the full meaning of word "I" as a subject.

Descartes made the famous statement using consciousness to prove his own real existence: "I think therefore I am". The process of the observer recognizing that he is thinking points to the riddle of whether this observer ultimately is anything more than the physical components involved in the computation.

Is my existence an illusion and all that is really occurring with "me" is a mass of molecules and electrons undergoing physical processes? Are "I" and "you" just shorthand for "these masses of chemicals and cells" hitting keyboards?

When a person says “I like this color”, what does the person mean by “I”? By “I”, he/she doesn’t mean his/her physical brain. The physical brain could be addicted to a chemical, love it and find it wonderful. But one can still rightly say “I hate this chemical, it’s so addicting". Likewise, one can conceive of his/her own life outside his/her physical death, therefore conceptually a person and his/her soul is not the same thing as his/her physical body.

A major aspect of the experience of consciousness is the reality of the experience and the realistic feelings associated with it. It's one thing for a subject to imagine that the subject or another person experiences something, but another phenomena to experience it directly. The same is true with my consciousness. I "know" directly that I exist in the full experiential sense of the words "I and me", and this knowledge is in a manner that I cannot directly exhibit or prove to you.

This life experience rests on a layer that might not be explainable in purely materialistic terms. Materialistic science cannot fully make sense of questions like "Why am I me experiencing what I am in this body, and not you experiencing what you are in your body?" If "I" am nothing more than atoms and chemicals and a pattern of behavior formed solely by physical experiences, the question doesn't make sense. But if I have a soul, then why could at least understand the question why "I" as a subject am not directly experiencing what you are in your body. It alludes to a deeper common human sense, where I, my soul, am experiencing my body at this moment.

I can try to show you what I mean: Not only does my brain detect that it is computing and create brain memories that has detected this, and not only does the brain recognize that it has recognized that it computes, but there is a subject who itself observes the brain undergoing consciousness. There is a subject experiencing the brain's experiences. But I don't know that I can directly share this experience with you, I can only expect that you have a soul and a similar experience and that you, another subject, know directly the kind of experience that I am describing.

Other philosophers have noted the importance of consciousness for recognizing the soul. In his chapter in the anthology The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul, 'The Soul of the Matter', Charles Taliaferro "presents the standard but powerful claim against materialism that it cannot accommodate consciousness: science is confined to the third-person viewpoint and all attempts to provide a third-personal account of the first-person conscious perspective fail." (http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-soul-hyp...e-of-the-soul/)

Another issue in the anthology is how while one can explain vocabulary and grammar, the ultimate source of the creative ability itself in language is not explainable. Most of the rest of the anthology goes into modern scientific arguments.

Wikipedia notes the explanations of Plato and Kant:
Quote:
Plato considered the psyche to be the essence of a person, being that which decides how we behave. He considered this essence to be an incorporeal, eternal occupant of our being.

Immanuel Kant
In his discussions of rational psychology, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) identified the soul as the "I" in the strictest sense, and argued that the existence of inner experience can neither be proved nor disproved.

We cannot prove a priori the immateriality of the soul, but rather only so much: that all properties and actions of the soul cannot be recognized from materiality.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul#Philosophy_of_mind

How would you describe the puzzle of the soul's existence?


Do I exist, or is this really a misstatement, because there is really no "I"?

After all, doesn't the concept of "I" rests on the concept of an entity distinguishable from a physical body, whereas according to a purely materialistic model, nothing exists other than physical matter?

This "I", a real being distinct from the body alone, is what I mean by the soul. If I exist and am real, doesn't my soul really exist?

Can you relate to my experience of being a subject, looking out at the world, at one's brain, and experiencing them? Can you sense how this leads me to think that "I" am distinguishable from my brain? Even when my brain computes that it is computing, "I", the subject, still experience and observe my brain recognizing itself.
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Old 1st January 2018, 03:06 PM   #2
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I can't decide on the second, third, and fourth poll items without clarification of whether or not a process or the effects of a process should be considered to exist distinct from its material substrate.

Does a cloud exist distinct from the earth's atmosphere? How about a thunderstorm?

When I run, does my running exist distinct from my legs and body?

Does your post displayed on my computer screen exist distinct from my computer screen?
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Old 1st January 2018, 03:29 PM   #3
Hungry81
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
A person appears to be something more in reality than physical brain processes, since it has a soul. The soul appears to be a real, nonmaterial phenomena distinct from the brain and the world's physical elements.

Since the soul is immaterial, to know it directly might be possible only intuitively and by experience. That is, a subject and person can know that he/she himself/herself is a subject and has a soul, but this fact might not be absolutely provable to others outside his/her body. but maybe not absolutely provable conclusively to others. My own experience of consciously looking out at the world is not one that I can directly share with others. From the POV of others outside the subject's body, the subject could be a well-made automaton, a dream, a fictional character.

The Huffington Post mentions some definitions of the soul:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...n_2333335.html



It looks to me that the best way to describe the issue of the soul is by discussing issues of my consciousness and how it relates to me as a subject, that is, a being aware that it is observing the world. It directly appears to me that I am or have a soul looking out from my body at the world and at my body.

This description or evidence involves a self-experience that both I the writer and you the reader have, and the full meaning of word "I" as a subject.

Descartes made the famous statement using consciousness to prove his own real existence: "I think therefore I am". The process of the observer recognizing that he is thinking points to the riddle of whether this observer ultimately is anything more than the physical components involved in the computation.

Is my existence an illusion and all that is really occurring with "me" is a mass of molecules and electrons undergoing physical processes? Are "I" and "you" just shorthand for "these masses of chemicals and cells" hitting keyboards?

When a person says “I like this color”, what does the person mean by “I”? By “I”, he/she doesn’t mean his/her physical brain. The physical brain could be addicted to a chemical, love it and find it wonderful. But one can still rightly say “I hate this chemical, it’s so addicting". Likewise, one can conceive of his/her own life outside his/her physical death, therefore conceptually a person and his/her soul is not the same thing as his/her physical body.

A major aspect of the experience of consciousness is the reality of the experience and the realistic feelings associated with it. It's one thing for a subject to imagine that the subject or another person experiences something, but another phenomena to experience it directly. The same is true with my consciousness. I "know" directly that I exist in the full experiential sense of the words "I and me", and this knowledge is in a manner that I cannot directly exhibit or prove to you.

This life experience rests on a layer that might not be explainable in purely materialistic terms. Materialistic science cannot fully make sense of questions like "Why am I me experiencing what I am in this body, and not you experiencing what you are in your body?" If "I" am nothing more than atoms and chemicals and a pattern of behavior formed solely by physical experiences, the question doesn't make sense. But if I have a soul, then why could at least understand the question why "I" as a subject am not directly experiencing what you are in your body. It alludes to a deeper common human sense, where I, my soul, am experiencing my body at this moment.

I can try to show you what I mean: Not only does my brain detect that it is computing and create brain memories that has detected this, and not only does the brain recognize that it has recognized that it computes, but there is a subject who itself observes the brain undergoing consciousness. There is a subject experiencing the brain's experiences. But I don't know that I can directly share this experience with you, I can only expect that you have a soul and a similar experience and that you, another subject, know directly the kind of experience that I am describing.

Other philosophers have noted the importance of consciousness for recognizing the soul. In his chapter in the anthology The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul, 'The Soul of the Matter', Charles Taliaferro "presents the standard but powerful claim against materialism that it cannot accommodate consciousness: science is confined to the third-person viewpoint and all attempts to provide a third-personal account of the first-person conscious perspective fail." (http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-soul-hyp...e-of-the-soul/)

Another issue in the anthology is how while one can explain vocabulary and grammar, the ultimate source of the creative ability itself in language is not explainable. Most of the rest of the anthology goes into modern scientific arguments.

Wikipedia notes the explanations of Plato and Kant:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul#Philosophy_of_mind

How would you describe the puzzle of the soul's existence?


Do I exist, or is this really a misstatement, because there is really no "I"?

After all, doesn't the concept of "I" rests on the concept of an entity distinguishable from a physical body, whereas according to a purely materialistic model, nothing exists other than physical matter?

This "I", a real being distinct from the body alone, is what I mean by the soul. If I exist and am real, doesn't my soul really exist?

Can you relate to my experience of being a subject, looking out at the world, at one's brain, and experiencing them? Can you sense how this leads me to think that "I" am distinguishable from my brain? Even when my brain computes that it is computing, "I", the subject, still experience and observe my brain recognizing itself.
No. You are your brain. Remove the brain and you don't process anything. Hint: research brain trauma injuries.
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Old 1st January 2018, 03:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
No. You are your brain. Remove the brain and you don't process anything.
To play Devil's Advocaat (glug), whilst the last sentence may be true, it doesn't necessarily follow that 'you are your brain'. The brain may well create 'you', but it doesn't mean it's the same thing.

As an analogy, a massive object will engender a gravitational field. If the object vanishes then the gravitational field will vanish too. But one is not the same as the other. And, perhaps more pertinently, the gravitational field will persist, in increasingly weakened form, long after the object has disappeared.
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Old 1st January 2018, 03:51 PM   #5
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Good point, Baron.

If the brain's death destroys the subject/soul it means that the brain is required for the subject/soul's existence, or that they are co-terminal, but not that "I am exactly the same thing as my physical brain".

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Old 1st January 2018, 03:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Hungry81 View Post
No. You are your brain. Remove the brain and you don't process anything. Hint: research brain trauma injuries.

Yes to that.

It is laughable the way some insist on this soul entity, as distinct from the physical body in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, like your example of brain trauma injuries.

The only evidence in support of a soul is the dubious stuff provided by so called mystics. This dodgy evidence has been dealt with most comprehensively in other threads on this forum.

Watch this space for the appearance of scorpion from his spiritual form.
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Old 1st January 2018, 03:54 PM   #7
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TL/DR but based on the title, no.
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Old 1st January 2018, 04:33 PM   #8
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Well,
I have travelled out of the physical body,
so have many others.

I remember an event from a previous life,
so do many others.

I have met beings without a physical body,
so have others.

Yes, I think a soul exists apart from our physical body, and other subtle bodies.


Kapyong
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Old 1st January 2018, 04:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Well,
I have travelled out of the physical body,
so have many others.

I remember an event from a previous life,
so do many others.

I have met beings without a physical body,
so have others.

Yes, I think a soul exists apart from our physical body, and other subtle bodies.


Kapyong
Many other people have not had that experience and can reasonably think you are imagining that.

But the phenomenon of actually being a conscious subject in a body is something that I think everyone has experienced and might relate to. I am looking to see how close I can come to proving or showing the existence of the soul.

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Old 1st January 2018, 05:05 PM   #10
Kapyong
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Gday all

Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
Many other people have not had that experience and can reasonably think you are imagining that.
Yup, it's an interesting problem -

If a buddy came back from the beach and said "I saw a dolphin" - that's easy to believe. But if he said "I saw a ghost" - not so easy.

Yet if your spouse of 30 years claimed to see a ghost - that might be a little easier to believe. Some person on the internet ? No way.

In the West, we generally don't believe in re-incarnation, so it is not studied, so it's not believed.

In India, where re-incarnartion is believed, it is much studied and there is a great deal of evidence for it (mostly in the form of accurate child-hood memories.)

Some people have future premonitions of absolute certainty - there are many accounts from people who were exactly right about some future event.

But it sounds silly to someone who hasn't had the experience, until they have such an experience themselves. Then it sounds silly to their friends when they try and explain it.

It happened to me - a very clear and distinct feeling that this future event had already happened and we were just waiting for the news. (I dreamed a lottery win of "25" which I assumed was $25,000 dollars, no way it would be 25 million.)

Yes, I won, as premoned - $24.75 ! Ripped off !

Just a silly story until it happens to you.

The moral of the story -
There is a lot we don't know about all this,
and there is a lot standing in the way of our learning about it.

Kapyong
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Old 1st January 2018, 05:17 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Well,
I have travelled out of the physical body,
so have many others.

I remember an event from a previous life,
so do many others.

I have met beings without a physical body,
so have others.

Yes, I think a soul exists apart from our physical body, and other subtle bodies.


Kapyong
There's far, far more evidence that Jesus existed as a flesh and blood person than there is for you to have actually traveled out of your physical body, previous lives, and interacting with beings without physical bodies. Yet for the one, it's evidence enough and the other, it's not enough.

Interesting where you draw your line. Too bad, though, from my POV.
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Old 1st January 2018, 05:18 PM   #12
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Thank you for your answers and voting.

I have a strong sense that "I" exist, that I am a soul viewing the events in my physical brain, but my challenge is that I don't know how to share the same sense that I have. An author can tell you what a character in a novel is experiencing, but you can't get inside the character's actual head or have his experiences, any more or less than you can get in my head or directly experience my own ideas. Reality is not just a series of third person interactions in matter, but rather there exists a first person state of being that science doesn't appear able to show, observe, or measure.

It is interesting to see how in 'The Soul of the Matter', Charles Taliaferro distinguishes between brain states and processes on one hand and a subject's own experiences on another:
"it seems that one can observe brain states and other physical processes without thereby observing what a subject is actually sensing, thinking, desiring and the like."

He writes that in contrast to belief in the soul as a distinct object, some philosophers today
Quote:
assume that the mind (or self, soul, or subjectivity) is either the same thing as the body or some bodily process.... [Others claim] that subjectivity and the self are illusions and do not actually exist. Common to all these philosophers is a commitment to physicalism.
Taliaferro says that there are materialistic philosophers who want everything to be described in science from a third person non-experiential POV, and that this
Quote:
is a radical departure from the understanding of science from Copernicus and Galileo to Einstein and beyond which sees science itself as a purposive activity being carried out by subjects who record observations, engage in predictions, construct theories... (all of which are presumed to involve experiences).
One might be able to disprove false theories, but one can not disprove the fundamental total reality of one's own experience in the world.

He says: "you can't disprove theexistence of conscious experiences by proving that they are only an appearance disguiding the underlying reality, because where consciousness is concerned the existence of the appearance is the reality. ... I might make various sorts of mistakes about my experiences, for example, if I suffered from phantom limb pains."

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Old 1st January 2018, 05:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Gday all



Yup, it's an interesting problem -

If a buddy came back from the beach and said "I saw a dolphin" - that's easy to believe. But if he said "I saw a ghost" - not so easy.

Yet if your spouse of 30 years claimed to see a ghost - that might be a little easier to believe. Some person on the internet ? No way.

In the West, we generally don't believe in re-incarnation, so it is not studied, so it's not believed.

In India, where re-incarnartion is believed, it is much studied and there is a great deal of evidence for it (mostly in the form of accurate child-hood memories.)

Some people have future premonitions of absolute certainty - there are many accounts from people who were exactly right about some future event.

But it sounds silly to someone who hasn't had the experience, until they have such an experience themselves. Then it sounds silly to their friends when they try and explain it.

It happened to me - a very clear and distinct feeling that this future event had already happened and we were just waiting for the news. (I dreamed a lottery win of "25" which I assumed was $25,000 dollars, no way it would be 25 million.)

Yes, I won, as premoned - $24.75 ! Ripped off !

Just a silly story until it happens to you.

The moral of the story -
There is a lot we don't know about all this,
and there is a lot standing in the way of our learning about it.

Kapyong

I can easily believe that someone had the experience of seeing a ghost, without believing that there was actually a ghost.

Ditto the experience of traveling out of the physical body, without believing that anything traveled outside of the physical body.

Ditto the experience of remembering a past life, without believing that the remembered past life actually occurred (or that if it did occur, was actually remembered instead of being heard or read about).

And so forth.
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Old 1st January 2018, 05:29 PM   #14
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Gday The Norseman

Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
There's far, far more evidence that Jesus existed as a flesh and blood person than there is for you to have actually traveled out of your physical body, previous lives, and interacting with beings without physical bodies. Yet for the one, it's evidence enough and the other, it's not enough.
Well, not from my point of view -
my direct experiences are obviously very real to me,
but narratives in an ancient book are much less real.

If you had such experiences - would you judge them more real than Jesus ?
Genuine question

Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Interesting where you draw your line. Too bad, though, from my POV.
Have I disappointed you ?
I had those experiences and shared them.
Does that lessen my credibility to you ?

Kapyong
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Old 1st January 2018, 05:32 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
A person appears to be something more in reality than physical brain processes, since it has a soul. The soul appears to be a real, nonmaterial phenomena distinct from the brain and the world's physical elements.

Since the soul is immaterial, to know it directly might be possible only intuitively and by experience. That is, a subject and person can know that he/she himself/herself is a subject and has a soul, but this fact might not be absolutely provable to others outside his/her body. ...
I disagree with the concept of a "real, nonmaterial phenomena". You believe that you have a soul and that your soul has an influence on your actions. If that is true then it is possible in principle to detect it.

By monitoring the functioning of a brain in detail there should be detectable instances where neurons are influenced to behave in ways that are not compatible with their material make up. I do not believe that is the case. Time will tell, but most likely not in my lifetime.

Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
It directly appears to me that I am or have a soul looking out from my body at the world and at my body.
There is an easy way to tell whether your soul is looking out at the world or if it is just your eyes. Put on a blindfold.

Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
... Likewise, one can conceive of his/her own life outside his/her physical death, therefore conceptually a person and his/her soul is not the same thing as his/her physical body.
We all have the experience you describe, of being an observing and acting subject. All of the evidence points to this being the result of purely physical processes and not due to an immaterial soul.
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Old 1st January 2018, 06:09 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Gday The Norseman
Howdy!



Quote:
Well, not from my point of view -
my direct experiences are obviously very real to me,
but narratives in an ancient book are much less real.

If you had such experiences - would you judge them more real than Jesus ?
Genuine question
If I had been raised in some more strict religion/religious family then I just might. To continue my previous line of thought then, if I had claimed to have met Jesus as a ghost and he told me he had existed as flesh and blood at one time, would you change your mind about what you've read in old scriptures? That maybe they were correct after all?




Quote:
Have I disappointed you ?
I had those experiences and shared them.
Does that lessen my credibility to you ?

Kapyong
Yes, I do appreciate you sharing your experiences; I have a difficult time accepting how a person's objective explanations for what they've experienced subjectively should actually carry any weight as evidence for actual existence of souls or ghosts. Most especially since we can, almost at whim, produce those same sorts of experiences by messing with the brain — through electrical stimulation or medical stimulation.

But, I hate to say it though true, is that yes, it does somewhat lessen your credibility in my eyes; that you're willing to apply scientific principles to many things, except for this. In my opinion, of course.

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Old 1st January 2018, 06:24 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jrhowell View Post
I disagree with the concept of a "real, nonmaterial phenomena". You believe that you have a soul and that your soul has an influence on your actions. If that is true then it is possible in principle to detect it.
I doubt it's possible for anyone to directly detect it besides the subject himself/herself. A person in a discussion group wanted to show that he had free will, so he picked up a pen and dropped it. Maybe he thought that by doing something unexpected, he could show his free will to us. But actually this was not a proof, because for all we know, he was pre-disposed to drop the pen due to prior conditioning.

The same difficulty exists for the neuron experiment that you gave. Even if scientists found that occasionally neurons act in ways that do not match their normal material state, the scientists could still call that anomaly a natural phenomenon, just like lightning striking twice in the same place or people being born with an extra toe or finger.

The experiment with the blindfold also doesn't show if there is a soul, only that for a subject or soul to see visually, a clear line of sight is required.


I am glad to hear that you share this important experience of being an observing subject.
Quote:
We all have the experience you describe, of being an observing and acting subject. All of the evidence points to this being the result of purely physical processes and not due to an immaterial soul.
Unlike other physical processes, the status and experience of being a subject does not seem to be something I can directly, objectively and clearly describe to or prove to another person. This inability seems to be a major way in which this status differs from other, purely physical processes like a ball falling down a wall.

My brain might be able to show that it computes that it (the brain) exists. But I don't seem to have an ability to show you what I mean by having and experiencing my status of being in the first person. This inability gives me some consternation and feels like a challenge to me.

The phenomenon of the existence of first person subjects itself does not appear to be a purely physical phenomenon. It is not an issue simply of moving, electrolyzed matter interacted with other moving matter in the universe. There appears to be some subject or observer distinct from this physical matter who himself/herself observes these physical processes.

Last edited by rakovsky; 1st January 2018 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 1st January 2018, 07:54 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
A person appears to be something more in reality than physical brain processes, since it has a soul. The soul appears to be a real, nonmaterial phenomena distinct from the brain and the world's physical elements.

Since the soul is immaterial, to know it directly might be possible only intuitively and by experience. That is, a subject and person can know that he/she himself/herself is a subject and has a soul, but this fact might not be absolutely provable to others outside his/her body. but maybe not absolutely provable conclusively to others. My own experience of consciously looking out at the world is not one that I can directly share with others. From the POV of others outside the subject's body, the subject could be a well-made automaton, a dream, a fictional character.

The Huffington Post mentions some definitions of the soul:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...n_2333335.html



It looks to me that the best way to describe the issue of the soul is by discussing issues of my consciousness and how it relates to me as a subject, that is, a being aware that it is observing the world. It directly appears to me that I am or have a soul looking out from my body at the world and at my body.

This description or evidence involves a self-experience that both I the writer and you the reader have, and the full meaning of word "I" as a subject.

Descartes made the famous statement using consciousness to prove his own real existence: "I think therefore I am". The process of the observer recognizing that he is thinking points to the riddle of whether this observer ultimately is anything more than the physical components involved in the computation.

Is my existence an illusion and all that is really occurring with "me" is a mass of molecules and electrons undergoing physical processes? Are "I" and "you" just shorthand for "these masses of chemicals and cells" hitting keyboards?

When a person says “I like this color”, what does the person mean by “I”? By “I”, he/she doesn’t mean his/her physical brain. The physical brain could be addicted to a chemical, love it and find it wonderful. But one can still rightly say “I hate this chemical, it’s so addicting". Likewise, one can conceive of his/her own life outside his/her physical death, therefore conceptually a person and his/her soul is not the same thing as his/her physical body.

A major aspect of the experience of consciousness is the reality of the experience and the realistic feelings associated with it. It's one thing for a subject to imagine that the subject or another person experiences something, but another phenomena to experience it directly. The same is true with my consciousness. I "know" directly that I exist in the full experiential sense of the words "I and me", and this knowledge is in a manner that I cannot directly exhibit or prove to you.

This life experience rests on a layer that might not be explainable in purely materialistic terms. Materialistic science cannot fully make sense of questions like "Why am I me experiencing what I am in this body, and not you experiencing what you are in your body?" If "I" am nothing more than atoms and chemicals and a pattern of behavior formed solely by physical experiences, the question doesn't make sense. But if I have a soul, then why could at least understand the question why "I" as a subject am not directly experiencing what you are in your body. It alludes to a deeper common human sense, where I, my soul, am experiencing my body at this moment.

I can try to show you what I mean: Not only does my brain detect that it is computing and create brain memories that has detected this, and not only does the brain recognize that it has recognized that it computes, but there is a subject who itself observes the brain undergoing consciousness. There is a subject experiencing the brain's experiences. But I don't know that I can directly share this experience with you, I can only expect that you have a soul and a similar experience and that you, another subject, know directly the kind of experience that I am describing.

Other philosophers have noted the importance of consciousness for recognizing the soul. In his chapter in the anthology The Soul Hypothesis: Investigations into the Existence of the Soul, 'The Soul of the Matter', Charles Taliaferro "presents the standard but powerful claim against materialism that it cannot accommodate consciousness: science is confined to the third-person viewpoint and all attempts to provide a third-personal account of the first-person conscious perspective fail." (http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-soul-hyp...e-of-the-soul/)

Another issue in the anthology is how while one can explain vocabulary and grammar, the ultimate source of the creative ability itself in language is not explainable. Most of the rest of the anthology goes into modern scientific arguments.

Wikipedia notes the explanations of Plato and Kant:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul#Philosophy_of_mind

How would you describe the puzzle of the soul's existence?


Do I exist, or is this really a misstatement, because there is really no "I"?

After all, doesn't the concept of "I" rests on the concept of an entity distinguishable from a physical body, whereas according to a purely materialistic model, nothing exists other than physical matter?

This "I", a real being distinct from the body alone, is what I mean by the soul. If I exist and am real, doesn't my soul really exist?

Can you relate to my experience of being a subject, looking out at the world, at one's brain, and experiencing them? Can you sense how this leads me to think that "I" am distinguishable from my brain? Even when my brain computes that it is computing, "I", the subject, still experience and observe my brain recognizing itself.
You do understand that there is no evidence of any kind that a thing called (by those who believe without any evidence) the soul exists and is provable. It is not.
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Old 1st January 2018, 08:28 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Well,
I have travelled out of the physical body,
You were almost certainly dreaming

Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
I remember an event from a previous life,]
You were almost certainly dreaming

Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
I have met beings without a physical body
You were almost certainly dreaming
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Old 1st January 2018, 09:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
You do understand that there is no evidence of any kind that a thing called (by those who believe without any evidence) the soul exists and is provable. It is not.
I think that the process of observing one's physical body counts as evidence of a soul distinct from the body, but I doubt that it is provable to anyone who is not undergoing the same experience.

Subject ----- verb / process -----> object

Subject/Soul ----- (consciously observes ) -------> the physical body

In my experience, this process is not only the same thing as a computer detecting its own existence or a camera taking a photo of itself.

I can directly observe the world, my body, and my brain such that I feel myself distinguishable from them. I sense that I am distinct from my brain. There seems and appears to be a living, thinking entity (me, my soul) performing this process and not just a series of existing physical chemical processes and movements of matter (my body).

To say that there is a lump of soft grey carbonate matter that is electrolyzed, moving and triggering body movements does not come close to describing the subjective experience that I wish to convey. My mental processes, thoughts senses, observations, feelings, and decisions feel inherently real, and I feel inherently real, such that I would not describe my subjective reality and experience either fictional or illusionary. I am challenged by my inability to describe my subjective experience of reality and life in the material terms that can prove my own distinct existence. It seems that I am forced to rely on nonphysical concepts like the soul and to work on the assumption that you, the person reading my letter, has had the same subjective experience and know from experience what I mean.

It's one thing to say that God's Shekinah / "Spirit" / "Presence" descended like a cloud in ancient Israel; or to say that the fictional Rip Van Winkle woke up, observed the world, and realized much time had passed; or to relate that Kapyong, a real person, realizes that he exists and thinks he has a soul. All of those descriptions are in the third person. But it's a very different kind of experience for me to directly feel me, my own existence, my own body, and to look at the world. And I don't know how to fully describe in material terms the total difference between these two experiences, such that I know that my subjective existence is real and intuitively sense that I can sense a distinction between myself and my physical body.

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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:29 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
If I had been raised in some more strict religion/religious family then I just might. To continue my previous line of thought then, if I had claimed to have met Jesus as a ghost and he told me he had existed as flesh and blood at one time, would you change your mind about what you've read in old scriptures? That maybe they were correct after all?
Well, isn't the answer entirely symmetrical ?

If Jesus appeared to you, you would almost certainly believe him; but you would have almost no chance of convincing me.

If Jesus appeared to me, I would almost certainly believe him; but I would have almost no chance of convincing you.

Haven't you ever had the experience of someone close, often an older person, convinced they saw a ghost (or whatever), and having to struggle with why on earth they would believe a thing ?

As you say - this whole field is very subjective.
Problem is - almost everything is rather subjective.

Look at how intelligent adults can observe the same evidence and genuinely come to different conclusions (if not to blows ).

Furthermore - you must have seen how entirely false views can be believed by almost everybody.

Objective reality, if it exists, is not so easily discerned as you may think. Common knowledge is highly suspect.


Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Yes, I do appreciate you sharing your experiences; I have a difficult time accepting how a person's objective explanations for what they've experienced subjectively should actually carry any weight as evidence for actual existence of souls or ghosts.
Isn't personal experience good evidence ?
Aren't eye-witnesses credible ?
Would you quibble if I reported seeing a dolphin ?

Anyway -
how could an Out Of Body Experience NOT be subjective ?

How can ANY experience NOT be subjective ?

We test our experiences for objectivity by comparing them with others.

Wise ancients like Socrates argued for a soul and re-incarnation.
Various religions and philosophies believe in re-incarnation of souls.
Many people now believe in the re-incarnation of souls.
There is a great body of evidence and study in India supporting it.

My belief in re-incarnation is backed by much evidence, religious teachers and wise masters, and supported by subjective personal confirmation.

Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Most especially since we can, almost at whim, produce those same sorts of experiences by messing with the brain — through electrical stimulation or medical stimulation.
So ?
What is your argument exactly ?

The brain can be forced to do strange things,
therefore re-incarnation must be false ?

No argument there at all.

Can you force a brain to remember a past life correctly ?
If so, I'd really like to know more.

Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
But, I hate to say it though true, is that yes, it does somewhat lessen your credibility in my eyes; that you're willing to apply scientific principles to many things, except for this. In my opinion, of course.
Pardon ?

In fact I did exactly that - I studied the subject at length, learned about the experiences of others, and I have also confirmed much of it through direct personal experience.

The very essence of the scientific approach.

Please tell me why you think I did not apply scientific principles, and what I should have done differently, if you were in my shoes

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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:32 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
You were almost certainly dreaming
I understand my tales are unlikely to convince anyone.

I spoke openly and honestly,
of course posters should respond in kind

It's just a perennially interesting subject.

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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:54 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
This life experience rests on a layer that might not be explainable in purely materialistic terms. Materialistic science cannot fully make sense of questions like "Why am I me experiencing what I am in this body, and not you experiencing what you are in your body?" If "I" am nothing more than atoms and chemicals and a pattern of behavior formed solely by physical experiences, the question doesn't make sense. But if I have a soul, then why could at least understand the question why "I" as a subject am not directly experiencing what you are in your body. It alludes to a deeper common human sense, where I, my soul, am experiencing my body at this moment.
Of course it can. Because your consciousness is a product of your body and mine is a product of my body. Just like it's not a mystical conundrum why I can only run using my own legs, or why I can't drink from a glass located on another continent. No immaterial soul needed.

Just the opposite, I'd say.
If our consciousness is independent from our bodies, you'd expect crossovers, shared subjective experiences between bodies, and ESP to be possible, yet they aren't.
The concept of a soul raises more questions than it answers
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Old 2nd January 2018, 02:02 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
I think that the process of observing one's physical body counts as evidence of a soul distinct from the body, but I doubt that it is provable to anyone who is not undergoing the same experience.
I am undergoing the same experience but I do not consider it evidence for a soul distinct from the body. On the contrary, the evidence points strongly to that experience being entirely generated by, and dependant on, my body.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:08 AM   #25
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Which one of those wordy excuses is the "no" option?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:10 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
.........When I run, does my running exist distinct from my legs and body?..........
The Eagles put it best some decades ago:

Someone show me how to tell
The dancer from the dance
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:14 AM   #27
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Question

Let me put it another way -

Have you studied and considered the evidence for re-incarnation The Norseman ? Has anyone here ?

Wouldn't that be the scientific approach ?

Would the religious approach be to reject it based on beliefs without evaluating the evidence ?

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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:19 AM   #28
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When there is some testable, falsifiable and repeatable "evidence"of re-incarnation, Kapyong, let us know. Until then, your beliefs on the matter are just that.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:26 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
I think that the process of observing one's physical body counts as evidence of a soul distinct from the body, but I doubt that it is provable to anyone who is not undergoing the same experience.



...snip....
When you observe someone else's physical body do you consider that evidence of a soul distinct from the body?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:38 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Let me put it another way -

Have you studied and considered the evidence for re-incarnation The Norseman ? Has anyone here ?
...snip...
From my experience many people here have read a lot of the literature available and some I know have interacted with believers in reincarnation here and in "real" life.

And as ever the evidence simply does not point to the experiences being best explained by people recalling past lives.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:41 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Let me put it another way -

Have you studied and considered the evidence for re-incarnation The Norseman ? Has anyone here ?
Over the years I've examined quite a few claimed cases of reincarnation. None of them stood up to scrutiny; there was always a plausible mundane explanation. But I'm always willing to look at another one.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:46 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Which one of those wordy excuses is the "no" option?
I'm serious. This poll looks like a collection of questions designed to only give one conclusion. It is misleading, and probably deliberately so.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:56 AM   #33
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:05 AM   #34
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I ticked "I exist" and "I understand from my own experience that observing the world and one's body can lead a subject to think that he/she has existence distinguishable from his physical body" because I do understand the latter, even though I don't believe the conclusion is correct.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:35 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Which one of those wordy excuses is the "no" option?
That's what I was wondering. I could not vote.

I find it surprising that so many people who want to believe in a soul do not consider that the four letters forming a word soul are chosen by humans (different words in different languages of course) to talk about an aspect of ourselves.


Personal incredulity crops up quite a lot I think.

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Old 2nd January 2018, 06:30 AM   #36
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I’m entirely a materialist, and I too wonder about the obvious lack of a “no” option and the positive opening statement that simply assumes the existence of a soul.

To my way of thinking, and the thinking of contemporary neuroscience, “the brain secretes consciousness like the liver secretes bile.”
A rather snarky but accurate representation.

To me, the idea of the soul is simply an appealing hang-over from thousands of years, starting with a belief in primitive animism. Likely the first sort of “religious” thinking among our primitive ancestors, this is the idea that everything has an “animating spirit” which gives it’s essential nature.
No great leap from thinking humans have such an animating spirit to thinking that this spirit survives death (most all primitives practice some sort of ancestor worship, and have shamans to “communicate” with spirits.
Very comforting notion... And incorporated into all emerging organized religions.

No one to my knowledge has ever bothered to describe how such a thing could exist or how it could function. Mere hand-waves to “Well...It’s spiritual...” Or, silly appeals to “energy can’t be destroyed” which implies an essential misunderstanding of that particular aspect of reality.
How does a soul, with no physical presence whatever, retain memory or accomplish thought? These are the properties of the physical brain. The body devotes some 25% of it’s resources just to maintain consciousness.
How would it continue with no physical support system whatever?

The notion is retained because it’s comforting, and the spectacular lack of evidence is simply ignored.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:05 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Anyway -
how could an Out Of Body Experience NOT be subjective ?

How can ANY experience NOT be subjective ?

We test our experiences for objectivity by comparing them with others.
A true out-of-body experience could be objectively verified by reporting information that could not have been discovered any other way. So far attempts to do this have failed, leading to the conclusion that it is no more real than a dream.


I wonder about the feeling of having a soul. Is it any different from the feeling of being alive? I feel that my whole body is alive and is part of me. I can feel and move my hands naturally without thinking about it. But I know that if the nerves that connect my arm to my brain are severed then my hand would no longer feel a part of me, even though it is just as alive as it was before. So does my soul extend into my hand or is it confined to my brain?

If a soul exists it would have to imbue us with abilities not already inherent in our physical bodies. So what are the properties of a soul?

If you close your eyes your soul can't see. Therefore your soul lacks vision. The same applies to all of the senses, so a soul without a body would have no sense of its surroundings at all. Memories are associated with the brain and can be destroyed by various diseases. So a soul without a body would have no memories at all. If you eliminate everything that clearly has a physical cause there isn't much (I would say nothing) left for the soul to do.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:24 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Kapyong View Post
Well,
I have travelled out of the physical body,
so have many others.

I remember an event from a previous life,
so do many others.

I have met beings without a physical body,
so have others.

Yes, I think a soul exists apart from our physical body, and other subtle bodies.


Kapyong
Hi Kapyong:

I too have seen ghosts since I was a kid, and have had two out-of-body experiences. I attribute them to hallucinations/neural misfires/overactive imagination. What is it about your experiences that leads you to rule out these simpler explanations?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:36 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
The phenomenon of the existence of first person subjects itself does not appear to be a purely physical phenomenon. It is not an issue simply of moving, electrolyzed matter interacted with other moving matter in the universe. There appears to be some subject or observer distinct from this physical matter who himself/herself observes these physical processes.
It has been shown to be simple to trick the brain into thinking that your body doesn't actually belong to you, or that immaterial objects are parts of your body. To me, this suggests that the whole "observer" phenomenon is simply an illusion generated to convey a sense of continuity and narrative, which can provide a distinct advantage when it comes to survival.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:48 AM   #40
Pope130
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I've had several experiences which could be interpreted as spiritual or psychic. On close examination, none of them imparted information that was not already in my own mind, and all had mundane explanations. No positive evidence of a soul.
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