Immortality

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Would you like to be immortal?

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:44 am

(^ the title of this thread and the poll are a bit confusing)

I had a book by Eduard Punset called "The soul is in the brain"

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Re: Immortality

Post  pinhedz on Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:16 am

If people were given a choice between living forever, or dying to go to heaven, which would they choose? silent

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:24 am

pinhedz wrote:If people were given a choice between living forever, or dying to go to heaven, which would they choose? silent

...that would depend on the definition of 'heaven'

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:27 am

Vera Cruz wrote:^ Knowing the little I know about it I dislike Plato because of the world of forms or ideas. I don't like that he situated the highest form of reality outside the reality we live in.
Is my disliking too ignorant?

While I basically agree with you, there might be a very solid excuse for Plato.
It is often thought that Plato found it hard to accept that Socrates, the man he considered to be the most 'true' person in the world, was murdered through the wishes of the opinio communis.

Now you should realise that to the classic mind there's a very strong unity between the notion 'true' - 'wise' - 'just' - 'beauty'. To a classic mind it's incoceivable to be one and not the other - I think this notion was probably only first challenged by the findings of Gallileo Gallilei.

And so there's a certain logic in concluding that the unjust world couldn't be the true world either.
And there you have the opening scene of the search for the true world - a world beyond this world.

Plato's formulation of a world of ideas does have a somewhat conflicting effect:
- it's an optimism: he translates what was probably a very deep emotional and intellectual disillussion into a theory that allows him to overcome negativity;
- it's hard to see how this doesn't lead to a loss of interest in the "real" - i.e. empirical - world. Part of that explains why neo-platonism was such an appealing template for the early Christian thinkers to construct a Christian doctrine;

And this conclusion itself is rather reminiscent of Socrates: most socratic dialogues end so called appories - the conclusion that has to be drawn is that there is no conclusion, there remains a gap that isn't bridged.

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:50 am

But that must be the hardest part of accepting this is the only and real world... that it's not a just world

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:34 am

In my personal opinion what would really be interesting would be NOT to be immortal but to know you would die 3 times.
Suppose you knew you died once before and what you were doing/being now really was your second chance - how would that change you?

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Re: Immortality

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:36 pm


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Re: Immortality

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:56 pm

Live and learn--and live and learn:


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Re: Immortality

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:58 pm












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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:56 am

Vera Cruz wrote:But that must be the hardest part of accepting this is the only and real world... that it's not a just world

So I was thiking about this some more as I was lying in my bath thub - people need to have something on their minds at times like those.

I remembered what you had written here and it suddenly struck me how injustice played a role in the transition from the Socratic method to the full body of Plato's work - the first grand philosophical corpus in the history of the world, just sayin' - and than later on may have had a hand in the movement away from Plato as well.

For let's look at Aristotle's case, a man you know I admire a lot.
Aristotle was a student, friend and admirer of Plato - even in the passages of his work in which he directly formulates criticism to Plato's theories, he speaks of him in a very respectful way -, but unlike his teacher he wasn't a born Athenian. Aristotle was a Macedonian. You may be aware of this as it is relatively well known that Aristotle once taught the young Alexander the Great, who came also from Macedonia.

I'm not entirely sure about some of the details of this story, but I do recall that Aristotle had to flee Athens - I believe it happened 2 times, but could be wrong there - because of anti-Macedonian tensions rised to threaten him. I also seem to recall he spent at least one of his exiles in Asia Minor, present day Turkey. And there, bereft from all sources of teachings and inquiry he started studying things that surrounded him. Marine biology, the dynamics behind the leap of a frog that sort of thing.
And it is said that these studies did have a powerfull impact on Aristotle, leading him to evolve from a Platonic pupil into the teacher of a quite radically different from of rationality. Plato's system neglects, even denies the reality with the contigent single material beings. They are mere images of the Ideas, which hold their true forms. And so the wise one strives for knowledge of this Realm of Ideas.
But for Aristotle there is no super-world, no hypostate of truth beyond the world of which we have empirical knowledge. And thus it is absolutely crucial for the wise one to study the empirical world. And than, through abstraction, he will in time become able to learn about the first and most general principles which form that world.

Populism drove Plato's great example to be killed, leading Plato to formulate his hypothesis of the world of Ideas.
Racism drove Plato's greatest pupil into exile, leading him to rethink the Platonic teachings into a fundamentally different concept of what reason is and how it works.

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:12 am

I will be going a bit off topic here, with your approval I hope.

What is really starting to intruigue me in philosophy is the question of what philosophy is.
That is to say: if we define philosophy as the conviction that we can rationally understand how the world functions - as opposed to understanding through "tales" like myths and religions -, what do we than mean with 'rationally'. How do we understand that term. What IS rational?

There are some interesting aspects about the history of 'reason' - what answers were formulated to the question during succeeding periodes in history.
Take the case of Aristotelianism. After the fire in the library of Alexandria, most of Aristotle's works were completely forgotten in the Western world.
Prior to +/- 12th century, peole really only knew Aristotle as a logician - the so called Organon. The Aristotelian writings were reintroduced in the West through contact with Arabic thinkers. At first you had Latin translations based upon the Arab translations but as the knowledge of Ancient Greek increased more and more texts were translated from a text in ancient Greek - which is an improvement, but still doesn't mean that what we know today as the Aristotelian corpus is a flawless copy of what it was originally.
This reintroduction of the Aristotelian corpus proved to be quite revolutionary for Christian thinkers, who probably never had been challenged so drastically and fundamentally. This movement went hand in hand with a newly refound autonomy for 'philosophy' - rational inquiry. For Augustine philosophy is a serving maid to faith, for Aquinas 'philosophy' is an independent and equally valid insight into reality as theology.
So it would seem reasonable to say that Aristotelianism had the effect of a reclaiming of authority by independent intellectual inquiry.

Fast forward barely 3 centuries to visit our friend Galileo Galilei.
What was so revolutionary about what he said? After all: Copernicus had already suggested heliocentrism and his position never was nearly as controversial as that of Galilei.
The key lies in the details: Copernicus proposed a mathematical method that would allow for more practical calculations.
The Church didn't need to have any trouble with that: according the Aristotelian worldview the heaven's are governed by perfect and ideal movements which are sublimely rational. The earth, in contrast, is governed by imperfect principles which are much less rational - but more understable to us as we are part of them.
So what Copernicus said, could be translated by the Church as: we, human, are unable to understand the brilliant reasonable principles that govern the realm of the Lord, but they are a bit more easily to understand to us if we use the heliocentric-hypothesis.
Or, more bluntly: man-made mathemics don't mess with the Lord's work, it's only used to help the limited mind of man.
What did Galileo say? That the earth really moved around the sun - not as a working hypothesis, but as a physical reality that could be concluded through man-made mathematics. Or: if philosophy finds that a phenomenon acts a certain way, the Lord will have to follow suit. God almighty trapped in the cage of a man-made device. It's not hard to understand the controversy.

And now look at the role of the Aristotelian worldview in both epochs described above: it is a source of illumination in the age of Thomas and a veiling obstacle in the age of Galileo. Pretty odd, no?

Or let's take a brief glimpse at Immanuel Kant.
In his Kritik der reinen Vernunft Kant procedes to draw a very grande picture of reason - all too often this will be conflated with 'the mind', be sure never to do so!
He has a somewhat dubble agenda, as he seeks to come to terms with 2 different sets of problems:
- the dogmatic school metaphysical tradition from people like Wolff that was in style when he was a professor - a discipline which claimed to have knowleedge about the nature of God, the immortality of the Soul and the unity of the World. Though earlier forms of criticism on the tradition can be found in Kant, it was only after David Hume's work "awoke him from his dogmatic slumbers" that he set out to attack this entire system fundamentally;
- but Hume's radical scepticism wasn't only helpfull to help him deal with dogmatic metaphysics, it also denied the possibility of Newtonian physics. Kant, a physician and devout scientist, obviously couldn't accept this. If Hume had to conclude Newton was wrong, than Hume must have made a mistake,

And so he sees himself challenged with having to formulate a theory of reason that would at the same time demonstrate the validity of Newtonian science and the impossibility of dogmatic metaphysics. Recently I read and expert from a letter he wrote around the time he came to conceive this project, saying he would need about 8 to 10 weeks or so to complete the task. It took him an entire decade of hard work.

But after finishing his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, he became aware of the fact that something was missing - one of the conclusions one could draw from it is that men, like all other elements, is entirely determined and as such no need of any ethics. What use would ethics have if how you act in reality is entirely determined?
Enter his second Kritik, in which he will have to study human freedom - that means: ethics.
Kants theory of ethics is original and influential, but comes with its own oddities and difficulties. For one: his rigid system almost forced him to postulate the existence of a God and the immortality of the soul as a final justification of the very existence of ethics.

So, in his opus magnum Kant draws a very substantial picture of what reason is and how it functions and has to conclude that we are principally unable to answer such questions as 'Does God exist' and 'Is there an immortal soul'. And yet a few years later his equally impressive theory of ethics inevitably has to postulate these very entities.
Scientists today might praise Kants work in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft but will probably scratch their heads when they see they have to postulate a deity if they want to follow Kants trail.
And to make things even worse: Kants tour de force set out to formulate the basis for the validity of Newtonian physics.
But Newtonian physics have themselves gone obsolete. How does this reflect on Kant? Do we have to conclude that the brilliant outcome he had found between radical scepticism and dogmatic knowledge can no longer be held?

Or just one more - to give you and idea of the type of difficulties we face when considering the history of reason:
- theology was long seen as the supreme science, the sacra doctrina or scientia divina. It start from a number of postulations, such as the existence of a creator-God. Present day scientists might object to that and claim that theology does holds to be real what should be proven, it doesn't demonstrate its essential thesis but uses it as a starting point without further questioning into it. That doesn't sound very scientific, very reasonable;
- and yet: science itself is based on axioms - non-provable theses from which all other conclusions are deduced. What's the difference, from a principle point of view, between articles of faith and axioms?

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:33 am

^ hmmmm studying philosophy must be frustrating, no?

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:44 am

If you are hoping for THE answer, than it probably is.
I find it absolutely intruiging.

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:49 am

I wasn't saying it wasn't intriguing (I didn't mean it as a critic)... but just what you said about Kant sounds frustrating

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:55 am

Oh yeah, that part.
You know, one of the things that really is interesting in philosophy is that things don't go obsolete the same way they usually do in science.
Whenever a scientific theory proves to be no longer tenable, it will loose more or less all its authority. Except maybe for the historian of science.

In a philosophical setting - and I would like to use that term because as far as I'm concerned what we usually call science is simply part of it -, ideas tend to have a more lasting nature. They may be forgotten and resurface centuries later, offering interesting concepts to new problems.
If you want to write a groundbreaking were in geomtry, it's probably not a very good idea to choose Euclid as your main compass.
It is, on the other hand, possible to write a valid philosophical treatise using Plato as your guide.

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:51 pm

Vera Cruz wrote:My mother is a bit strange, I think, because she believes in God and she also believes that death is the end (and it doesn't worry her). I ask her "why do you have a God then?". She answers that she likes to think there's someone helping us. She doesn't say anything about moral, I think, because she knows we don't need a God for that.

Andy wrote:But after finishing his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, he became aware of the fact that something was missing - one of the conclusions one could draw from it is that men, like all other elements, is entirely determined and as such no need of any ethics. What use would ethics have if how you act in reality is entirely determined?
Enter his second Kritik, in which he will have to study human freedom - that means: ethics.
Kants theory of ethics is original and influential, but comes with its own oddities and difficulties. For one: his rigid system almost forced him to postulate the existence of a God and the immortality of the soul as a final justification of the very existence of ethics.

confused
Looks like I had the answer too easy...


So how can there be ethics in a determined world? (If I'm not entering a too difficult ground)

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Re: Immortality

Post  Andy on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:07 am

Vera Cruz wrote: confused
Looks like I had the answer too easy...

So how can there be ethics in a determined world? (If I'm not entering a too difficult ground)

I don't think you will find any theory of ethics that doesn't presuppose the existence of at least a limited form of free will.
If you consider humans to be restlessly causally determined by principles, there simply is no room left to define a theory about the principles by which ther actins should be guided. A gun that kills dozens of people can never be said to be morally 'bad', it just does what it was made to do. The moral qualification lies on the person holding the gun in his hands, as we suppose he might just as well have chosen not to kill anyone.

Now, Kant made a very substantial effort to develop an ethical theory that was founded in this notion of human freedom.
You have to understand the notion of freedom correctly here: it's not to negative form that's all too popular today - 'Everbody can do whatever the fuck they want' -, but a positive form of freedom - you are free to choose the right course of action.
The criterium to determin what the right course of action is, is reason itself: there's a very strong unity between freedom - reason and proper moral conduct in Kant. One doesn't realise his or her freedom until one proves to be able to accept (universal) reason as his or her sole guidance in moral matters.

Kant than sets out to develop a more specific description of these moral guidelines and in doing so formulates his famous categorical imperative.
All this is done in a relatively short book called Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten - Groundwork to the metaphysics of morals in English, I believe. Later on he extrapolates on this work in his 2nd volume of critical philosophy, Kritik der praktischen Vernunft as well as in the actual Metaphysik der Sitten. I'm sorry that I'm constantly refering to the German titles, but I am not always familiar with the exact English titles and hope that refering to the original titles will make it easier for people who speak various languages to find the right title in their own native tongue, should they be willing to read any of this.

Anyway, one of the difficulties Kant is facing is that his system is radically rigid. Only these actions which are solely motivated by the understanding of their reasonable character apply for true moral behaviour. Even the leastest trace of other motives - emotions, expectations, desires, etc. - will disqualify a particular course of action. Acting a certain way because you hope this will lead to a better world is not truly moral in Kant, because you seek the justification of your actions in their (hoped for) effects instead of being motivated by them being entirely reasonable. To make things worse: Kant doesn't actually believe humans are really capable of this, due to their feeble will.
Which of course inevitably leads you to ask: what use is there than for ethics anyway? One could even say ethics understood in a Kantian way is itself unreasonable. Which is how it leads Kant to formulate the postulates of practical reason - the existence of God and an immortal soul.

It's odd to notice how Kant's initial attempt to create an entirely non-theistic ethical theory - following the 'Ten commandments' because you believe God gave you those rules is as anti-Kantian as things will get - and yet ends with having to postulate an order of things which is suspiciously reminiscent of classical religious worldviews.
There's a nice story to go with it though: it is said that Kants servant was deeply let down by the Kritik der reinen Vernunft because he was a very devote man and therefor found it hard to accept that his master had seperated reason from God. Some say Kant set out to write his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft to make up for that. Kant is often portrayed as a very boring, non-engaging, staunch man. So I actually appreciate such a hint of human tenderness in the Great Thinker!

Another element that might interesting here is that Kant also had to conclude that Jezus was not divine.
He sees Jezus as a historical example of a person choosing to let his actions be guided by the categorical imperative.
But as the will is the key notion of his entire theory - the source of all trouble to plague man -, it's is critical that we assume Jezus to have had a human and not a divine will. Otherwise he couldn't serve as an example at all: people could just say they would act as ethically as Jezus did if only they possessed such a divine will too.

Hope that's not too messed-up. Embarassed

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Re: Immortality

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:28 am

I think I need to re-read that confused

Thank you Andy, for explaining me so many things I love you

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Re: Immortality

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