31
   

When do we cease to exist?

 
 
Germlat
 
Reply Tue 4 Feb, 2014 10:14 am
What is death? Most medical experts experts would agree death occurs when the brain dies. Although the body can be maintained alive through a series of interventions, if the brain is no longer viable, a human being is pronounced clinically dead. Without a viable central operating unit, a human being is no longer an entity unto itself but a series of parts. Without the brain there is no mind. Without the mind there is no free will. Do we classify existence in terms of consciousness , self- awareness, and the free will? Does biological existence alone without free will constitute life? Give me your thoughts.
 
A widow
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 09:49 am
@Germlat,
Dear Germlat, Good questions. . . Biological existence without free will constitute life?. . . has been the question for thousands of years. Apparently there is no concrete answer to this or people would not still be wondering about it. I would have to sumize that it is a mystery that only the deceased can answer, but they are not here to answer it for us.
The bottum line is it doesn't really matter. What does matter is the quest of finding what is right in your mind that you find comfort with. Many people believe in life after death. An atheist and those who follow the Ayan Rand philosphy do not, and would agree that life ends when the body ceases to function.
What I get out of all efforts to understand the meaning of Life is the INTENT of trying to understand. Because that in and of itself is the energy of, what I would call, Universal Wisdom. It's all out there in whatever works for you to find understanding, wisdom, and peace of mind. I think God, or Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or the Universe understands this and does not discriminate your path of believing or not believing. Your path in evolvement to understand (whatever it is you want to understand) is blessed with that INTENT to do so.
My response to you doesn't really say that biological existence without free will constitues life. What it does say is that the answer to your question is a mystery that has not yet been proven as we know proof. I happen to believe in a spiritual world, a consciousness that is much larger than ourelves and that we as humans beings are slowly evolving to understand it better. To see this is to take a look at the larger picture of history in society, the evolvement of sciencfiction that has now become reality, spiritualists and scienetists together who are now proving the invisible with quantum physics, and personal near death experiences that reports accuracy that is unaccountable. It's amazing to grasp this, and makes me realize how small our minds really are to. . . to the unknown. It's good to be open. . . Best to you in your quest.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 09:57 am
I don't see that a conglomeration of surviving cells constitute a living person, if the brain is truly dead. Without self awareness, we are but lumps, ready for disposal. Some will say there is an existence beyond the body. I don't think so. In either case, the dead one's body should be respected enough to bury it or cremate it, instead of feeding it for months or years.
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 01:45 pm
In cases of advanced disease of numerous origins, the brain can be damaged to the extent the afflicted can offer none but biologically driven responses. Terry Schiavo comes to mind, as well as those affected with conditions such as advanced Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease , etc. If a person no longer has free will , individual character, or self awareness does that not mean they have ceased to exist? Billions are spent in healthcare to ensure the biological existence continues despite the inevitable outcome. There is usually no hope for recovery or improvement in quality of life despite every artificial intervention. I believe it is not only a hopeless endeavor but a financially irresponsible practice. Many nursing homes are strong advocates of extending "life" since it is profitable business.

0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 05:15 pm
@Germlat,
Germlat wrote:
Do we classify existence in terms of consciousness , self- awareness, and the free will?

The word "existence" all by itself is meaningless to me. It needs something to attach to: existence of what?

Germlat wrote:
Does biological existence alone without free will constitute life? Give me your thoughts.

Yes. Bacteria, plants, and sponges are all devoid of free will, and every biologist will confirm to you that they are alive.
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 08:45 pm
@Thomas,
Yes, I understand what you mean. My point is do we loose our ability to be what it means to be human if we have no free will ? Are we devoid of character if we possess no decision making ability. If we are primarily ruled by biological responses, are we still human or simply an organism to exploit for profit. Devoid of self consciousness, and free will, should we extend life? Scenario #1 : Granny at the nursing home hasn't recognized anybody in 4 years. There has been a steady decline even in biological responses. She no longer recognizes anybody and a feeding tube has been placed to keep her alive. She has no quality of life and only exists in a permanent vegetative state. She develops appendicitis and is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The last year of life in the U.S. is the costliest in health care expenditures. Who is benefiting? I think only the ones making a profit. I think healthcare systems play on the vulnerability of the next of kin to turn a profit. The next of kin doesn't want to be the one to "pull the plug" to put it in vulgar terms.
mikeymojo
 
  0  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2014 09:30 pm
We are all devoid of self-consciousness in the first few years of our lives. Does that technically mean we are dead infants until our brain developes enough to tune us to the conscious state we all know (and remember) so well?
G H
 
  2  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 12:44 am
@Germlat,
Germlat wrote:
What is death? Most medical experts experts would agree death occurs when the brain dies. Although the body can be maintained alive through a series of interventions, if the brain is no longer viable, a human being is pronounced clinically dead. ... Does biological existence alone without free will constitute life?

What would "free will" be, anyway, other than everything which constitutes a person through its lifetime being what outputs or contributes to the person's decisions, desires, goals. Innate programming and learned conditioning might be the narrow tendencies which regulate you, but they are still YOUR parameters, not Dictator Nong-Hong-Jong heteronomously pulling puppet-strings from the outside. Try threatening a simple doll to do something or else you will burn it. Unlike our reactions, the doll would be totally indifferent, lacking any capacity to understand the information or care. That's what a totally "free" system amounts to. No templates whatsoever regulating it means it is not actually a system at all, a clueless aggregate.

As for the outdated eternal oblivion dogma... Biology doesn't float on its own. Or there's more than the naive materialism which a biocentric school of thought [about death] flounders like a rain-needy mudcat in.

If committing to a vast network of naturalistic explanations, the whole damn cow should be bought. It's not an array of religious denominations and doctrines where the adherent can pick and choose what s/he's comfortable with, like a customer at a buffet counter. One just does not expend all that iconoclastic effort during the teen years to get squeezed from the birth canal of scientism [science groupie-ism as a militant ideology], and then upon confronting physics backtrack to some of the same commonsense prejudices / everyday realism that the gospel singing couple next-door sport.

Change is more akin to the static structural variations along the length of a carved totem pole than change dependent upon a mythical time-flow with its special, universal "now". Even if there was such a global now, it sure as hell wouldn't be my or anyone else's subjective "this moment" egotistically bloated with pregger fishiness upon the whole cosmos.

Consciousness correlates to your whole worldline, not just this specious instant being all that is real or the sole location of cognition. Your brain is an interweaving spiral of particles extended through spacetime, but the memory organization it uses for cognition has functional "divisions" along the way. You seem to be conscious only in this latest sequence of nows because that's what your working memory at this region in your body's history is limited and devoted to (it certainly doesn't contain non-speculative information about tomorrow's events, and yesterday's storage was concerned with yesterday).

You [not "you" specifically, just an empty placeholder] can be thankful that at age ninety-four [death] all your elderly ailments will appear to cease, but at the expense of losing (memory-wise) who you are in the future [as if that will matter if dementia, Alzheimer's, etc, long before kicked-in]. But the bad news is that you will never cease to exist, you're hell-condemned to your body's worldline in spacetime. So make the best use of this eternal life: There is no other. Or such perpetual being should be your motto if you're a good methodologist willing to accept the whole network of natural explanation, rather being one of those selective, cherry-picking prigs who cops-out when the wider territory differs radically from the original little crap-container s/he potty trained on.

PAUL DAVIES ~ "Peter Lynds's reasonable and widely accepted assertion that the flow of time is an illusion (25 October, p 33) does not imply that time itself is an illusion. It is perfectly meaningful to state that two events may be separated by a certain duration, while denying that time mysteriously flows from one event to the other. Crick compares our perception of time to that of space. Quite right. Space does not flow either, but it's still 'there'." NEW SCIENTIST, 6 December 2003, Sec. Letters

ROBERT GEROCH ~ "There is no dynamics within space-time itself: nothing ever moves therein; nothing happens; nothing changes. [...] In particular, one does not think of particles as 'moving through' space-time, or as 'following along' their world-lines. Rather, particles are just 'in' space-time, once and for all, and the world-line represents, all at once the complete life history of the particle." GENERAL RELATIVITY FROM A TO B

PAUL DAVIES ~ "The most straightforward conclusion is that both past and future are fixed. For this reason, physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety — a timescape, analogous to a landscape — with all past and future events located there together. It is a notion sometimes referred to as block time. Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow." THAT MYSTERIOUS FLOW, Scientific American Sept 2002

CHERYL CHEN ~ "If the block universe view is correct, it is irrational to fear death. We apparently fear death because we believe that we will no longer exist after we die. But according to the block universe view, it's not true to say that we exist now, but won't exist any longer after death. Death is just one of our temporal borders, and should be no more worrisome than birth!" THE PHILOSOPHY OF TIME, CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND SOCIETY SYMPOSIUM, FALL 2003

PHYSICALISM.WORDPRESS.COM ~ But it’s worth pointing out that if we turn to our best theory of spacetime, General Relativity, which has proved itself fantastically successful over the past century, there is a straightforward answer to this question: The universe has always been here. In General Relativity, the Big Bang is a spacetime singularity. What that means is that as you go backwards in time, you eventually run out of time (or, more accurately, out of spacetime). The path back in time cannot be extended beyond 13.7 billion years or so. There is no time before this. What this means is that there was never a time when the universe didn’t exist. It has always been here. It’s tempting to think, “Ah, but what about before the Big Bang — say 14 billion years ago — then there was nothing, not even the universe!” But this is mistake. According to General Relativity, there is no 14 billion years ago. There is no “before the Big Bang.” Time doesn’t extend beyond the universe. Anytime there was time, there was a universe to go with it.

BRIAN GREENE ~ "In my everyday routines, I delight in what I know is the individual's power, however imperceptible, to affect time's passage. In my mind's eye, I often conjure a kaleidoscopic image of time in which, with every step, I further fracture Newton's pristine and uniform conception. And in moments of loss I've taken comfort from the knowledge that all events exist eternally in the expanse of space and time, with the partition into past, present and future being a useful but subjective organization." THE TIME WE THOUGHT WE KNEW, NYT, 2004

HERMANN WEYL ~ "The objective world simply IS, it does not HAPPEN. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling upward along the life line of my body, does a certain section of this world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time." PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS AND NATURAL SCIENCE
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 12:57 am
@Germlat,
Quote:
When do we cease to exist?
Your question assumes facts
not in evidence, to wit: that we cease to exist,
at a particular point in time. Have u proof of that ?





David
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 08:39 am
@mikeymojo,
Infancy is a developmental process not an end stage disease. Infants explore the world gradually through sound, sight, taste, etc. By the time they reach the toddler state, they constantly assert their will (and have tantrums when others interfere). Self -awareness is also a developmental process. I believe the process begins when you recognize yourself as separate entity from others. Of course these processes continue into adulthood. As we age there is also a gradual decline. If you could not recognize yourself in the mirror (or anyone you knew), could not remember, think or speak, would would you still be you? If you you were in a permanent vegetative state with no hope of recovery, would it be correct to place an feeding tube in your stomach to prologue existence?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 09:07 am
@Germlat,
Germlat wrote:
Devoid of self consciousness, and free will, should we extend life?

Probably not, but I think it makes sense to err on the side of not letting people die if we can help it. The brain-death standard, which deems people to be dead when brain function has ceased irreversibly, strikes the right balance, I think.

Germlat wrote:
The last year of life in the U.S. is the costliest in health care expenditures.

True, but the only way to know it's the last year of life is in retrospect, after people have died. When doctors have to decide on the right treatment, they don't know if their patients are in their last years or not.
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 09:42 am
@Thomas,
There is well documented evidence of progression of certain diseases into end stage and terminal status. We are able to know the course of the disease , it's stages, and irrevocable outcomes. Of course life expectancy in these cases can only be approximated. If a process of decline is irreversible and the the end stage has been reached, why extend it by artificial means? I believe in ameliorating pain and suffering at any stage, but I don't understand the reasoning behind maintaining someone in a permanent vegetative state alive at any cost. I think these type of situations are exploited for monetary gain.
0 Replies
 
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 10:00 am
@OmSigDAVID,
Think of the question in context of the discussion. If you are brain dead and your body is maintained alive (as is routinely done in organ harvesting for transplantation), you are still alive in a biological sense. If your body and brain are dead, you still exist as human remains.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 10:07 am
@Germlat,
Germlat wrote:
Think of the question in context of the discussion. If you are brain dead and your body is maintained alive (as is routinely done in organ harvesting for transplantation), you are still alive in a biological sense. If your body and brain are dead, you still exist as human remains.
A car is not the motorist who owns that car.
A pair of shoes is not the human owner of those shoes.

A person is not the human body.
A person is the conscious life that fits inside that human body.

U have a case of mistaken identity.

The thing that u throw in a hole and bury is not the person.
mikeymojo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 10:19 am
@Germlat,
It wouldn't matter to me because I wouldn't know that there was a tube in my stomach. I wouldn't feel it or notice anything in any way. The problem is that I am me to other people who believe it's more humane ( and profitable I will admit) to keep me " alive." It's their free will that would matter rather than mine, which wouldn't make a difference to me. Is it really inhumane if I didn't know what was going on? It wasn't when I was an infant and was being kept alive (which also cost money, way more over the span of years compared to keeping a brain dead adult alive, who we all know is going to die sooner rather than later) by other people.
Germlat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 12:23 pm
@mikeymojo,
So what is the benefit to the person in the permanent vegetative state? To me it seems the ones who have loved the individual benefit emotionally by postponing death. By postponing the inevitable, they can temporarily avoid feelings of permanent loss and personal pain. While for business entities, it is a matter of profitable gain. Problem is it comes at a cost. It affects insurance costs to society as a whole. It is preposterous to compare interventions based on a wether the person is an infant, or someone with an endstage disease in a permanent vegetative state. Obviously, the infant will more than likely have a positive outcome..there is a potential there. In the case of the other, obviously there is no potential for improvement or recovery. So...how does the person in a permanent vegetative state benefit from the prolongation of life?
mikeymojo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 12:39 pm
@Germlat,
I doubt people in a vegetative state have any care or worry about their own benefit. They have no concept of it. It's not their faults that others are keeping them alive on pity and greed. They are more than likely at bliss while everyone else are showing their true colors of exploitation and selfishness. The vegetative one is the one benefiting more than anyone when you take in what everyone else involved is doing morally.
0 Replies
 
Germlat
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 12:47 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
If determined strictly as a question of physics, energy can not be created or destroyed. Are you referring to spiritual energy? Do we have any way of measuring this energy? We have a way of measuring energy that goes in and out of the body. .This has been studied extensively and it all seems to be accounted for. Living creatures use energy to move, grow, etc. We die and our chemical energy breaks down into heat. The body tends to have lower entropy than the food it takes in, but it also creates more higher entropy waste. It is all accounted for. So how do we account for spiritual energy? From a theological point of view, explain to me if there is any benefit to prolonging the life of someone in a permanent vegetative state and interfering with the natural death process.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 05:45 pm
@Germlat,
Germlat wrote:
If determined strictly as a question of physics,
energy can not be created or destroyed.
Yes.


Germlat wrote:
Are you referring to spiritual energy?
I have in mind the energy of conscious life.
U can describe it as spiritual energy, if u wish.



Germlat wrote:
Do we have any way of measuring this energy?
Only from the testimony of people
who have left their human bodies (like me) and returned.
Hopefully, as technology improves spiritual energy can be better measured.



Germlat wrote:
We have a way of measuring energy that goes in and out of the body.
U can measure conscious life ??



Germlat wrote:
.This has been studied extensively and it all seems to be accounted for.
Living creatures use energy to move, grow, etc. We die and our chemical energy breaks down into heat.
I am skeptical that the energy
of conscious life "breaks down into heat."




Germlat wrote:
The body tends to have lower entropy than the food it takes in,
but it also creates more higher entropy waste. It is all accounted for.
So how do we account for spiritual energy?
Crudely and incompletely, so far as I can figure it.
We have only testimony.



Germlat wrote:
From a theological point of view, explain to me if there is any benefit
to prolonging the life of someone in a permanent vegetative state
and interfering with the natural death process.
I deem it un-likely.
Note that the "natural death process" applies only to the human body,
not to the person himself or herself.





David
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Feb, 2014 07:40 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

Note that the "natural death process" applies only to the human body,
not to the person himself or herself.


David


Sorry to rain on your parade, so to speak, but a person is only his/her human body, plus brain. There is no duality of mind existing beyond the body and its brain. Believe what you want, but it is as preposterous as believing in being Raptured Up before the Tribulations, in my scientific opinion.
 

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