Generic Subjective Continuity - a non-spiritual theory of metempsychosis

Discussion in 'SCIENTIFIC and ANECDOTAL research' started by IWantToTryAgain, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. IWantToTryAgain

    IWantToTryAgain Member

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    I subscribe to the doctrine of generic subjective continuity (as advanced by Thomas Clark)/existential passage (Wayne Stewart), which can be conceived of as a secular version of Buddhist doctrines of reincarnation, scrubbed of notions of karma or the different Hells and Heavens that populate certain Buddhist traditions and closer, I think, in keeping to the core Buddhist tenet of Anatta (no-self). The theory, roughly, is as follows.

    1. Nothingness cannot exist for the subject. The vulgar notions of "eternal blackness" or darkness or silence that most atheists posit requires the existence of an eternal soul to experience this state, the existence of which I do not accept (much of Western materialism has imported this notion of the soul over wholesale from Christianity).
    2. Spiritual reincarnation, of the kind advanced by Hinduism and certain other Buddhist traditions, is equally fallacious, because there is no core soul or 'self' to incarnate.
    3. If nothingness cannot be experienced, then it follows that there must be a next experience for the subject. This requires some parsing: I do not think there is anything continual, anything retained in this except for experience. No karma, no past-life memories, no identity. Nothing continual except the subjective first-person perception of Self, a qualia which is innate to the universe.

    I'm not the first to think of this idea.

    Tom Clark - Death, Nothingness and Subjectivity
    Wayne Stewart - Metaphysics By Default

    A man named Theodore Bolha has produced quite a few videos on the subject.


     
  2. Speedwell

    Speedwell Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    I'm not sure we can neatly separate the ideas of past-life memories and identity from the current life. We clearly do have a current identity, and current-life memories. It is also found through empirical observation that these things persist from one life to the next. I'm not clear on exactly what it is you are proposing, but it seems like a rejection of observable data in favour of an abstract theoretical philosophy?
     
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  3. IWantToTryAgain

    IWantToTryAgain Member

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    The argument is based simply on the argument that all permanent identity is illusory, a mental construct - this includes memories, which are produced by neurons recording experiences in some manner. None of this can pass between lives, because it isn't stored in some closed unit called a "soul", which does not exist. What can "pass" is nothing more than raw experience - or, rather, experience re-emerges in some radically altered and unpredictable form upon death. A new organism with a subjective sense of self will be born upon my death and will have experiences and will think of itself as "me", and the subjective experience of identity will continue despite my passing.
     
  4. tanker

    tanker Senior Registered

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    To me the arguments are interesting but irrelevant, and it seems strange to have the urge to deny something that clearly happens in life. I have a current identity with its own memories, and a past identity with its own memories which my current self remembers, and knows things from it which can be verified. I find it odd that people can pretend otherwise yet cannot prove their theories any more than we can prove we have past life memories. Each is entitled to his own opinion, and I'm happy to agree to differ!
     
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  5. Cyrus

    Cyrus Senior Member

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    Well, OK,

    Then, on my death, my subjective experience, will be recorded (stored) "in some radically altered and unpredictable form" as you say.

    Where will it be recorded (stored) ? And it MUST be recorded or stored somewhere before it "re-emerges in some radically altered and unpredictable form" in a "new organism with a subjective sense of self", when this is born.

    Some time must pass between my death (when all my subjective experience gets erased without anything for it to be stored in, neither "neurons" that die nor a "soul", "which does not exist".
    So, my "subjective experience" must be stored in some independent media, before a new organism (which will accept it) appears.

    What is this mysterious "raw experience"? Is it my old experience transformed so radically and unpredictably? What transforms it?

    And why is it "raw"?

    Regards.
     
  6. IWantToTryAgain

    IWantToTryAgain Member

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    No; it won't be your experience, because "you" - the accumulation of historical, biological, psychological, and sociological facts which constitutes your identity - will die with your physical body. The only thing that resumes, in this understanding, is subjective experience.

    Wayne Stewart uses William James' "unfelt time-gap" as an explanatory instrument in Metaphysics By Default:

    http://mbdefault.org/9_passage/default.asp

    For Stewart and Tom Clark, it would be wrong to posit that this experience is a substance which is stored anywhere and transported. It is, for him, rather an emergent property of the universe, not a substance. If this view holds good, then death would be like undergoing generalized anesthesia, before a new experience began in some other entity somewhere in the cosmos.

    Neither. Rather, it's simply a fact of the universe - an "I"-ness that emerges from the universe.
     
  7. Speedwell

    Speedwell Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Interestingly, in my early adulthood when my past-life was forcefully thrusting itself into my awareness, one of the key words which I used was 'identity'. There was even a rather trendy pop song at the time, by X-Ray Spex with the lyrics, "identity is the crisis can't you see?". That was an punk expression of teenage angst, but maybe it expressed a hidden truth. That is to say, perhaps one of the undiscussed causes of teenage confusion on growing into the adult world is the blossoming of their full identity, not a new and fresh identity, but one older than time reasserting itself.

    At any rate, that was my own experience, my personality and values shifted dramatically, years of careful parenting and full-time education fell away leaving me expressing myself in ways which were inconsistent with the previous twenty years, but completely consistent with a life which ended the better part of a century before.

    Identity. It isn't discussed enough. An important topic. In my opinion.
     
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  8. IWantToTryAgain

    IWantToTryAgain Member

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    What GSC says about identity is that it is divorced from experience - when you die, your identity will be stripped, but the loci of experience you currently associate with yourself will endure, in some radically different form. Not, again, because it contains your soul or anything of the sort, but because "I"-ness is a universe fact.
     
  9. Cyrus

    Cyrus Senior Member

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    If it has nothing to do with ME as I am now, then it should be OBJECTIVE or whatever, but not subjective.

    IMHO.

    Regards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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  10. Cyrus

    Cyrus Senior Member

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    Sounds to me kind of Spinoza pantheism.

    One can explain anything one likes in it.

    Count me out.

    IMHO.

    Regards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
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  11. tanker

    tanker Senior Registered

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    Me too, Cyrus! I'll just get on with living.
     
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