Logical proof that consciousness is eternal

Scientists have long claimed that consciousness is a construct of the brain, ruled by chemistry. I have always found such claims to be intuitively false at best and irrationally dogmatic at worst. The problem with science is that it is becoming a religion. When you look at the larger pattern of scientist’s beliefs, the religion becomes clear: The universe is dead. All events are accidents, matter and forces are mindless, and existence is meaningless.

Anything violating this religion scares the daylights out of them.

I don’t know why many scientists are afraid of the idea that our consciousness is something special. The prime reality of consciousness is absurdly obvious: in a universe where everything is an illusion, the only thing that is real is the ability to experience the illusion. That’s intuitive. But it’s not proof.

So let’s prove it.

Let’s prove that consciousness is eternal, or at least metaphysical. This won’t be a technically perfect proof, but the necessary reasoning is here.

Basis: Consciousness exists. You can’t argue with me on this point. If you’re reading this, you are aware. If you are aware, you are conscious (those words are synonyms, actually). If somehow you can read this and reply without being aware, then you must be some sort of soulless computer program — sorry, but I don’t have time to argue with robots.

If you doubt your own consciousness, you are at least thinking, and thinking is an act of consciousness. You can’t ponder an issue that you aren’t conscious of, right? If you’re still not sure if you’re aware, pinch yourself as hard as possible (because you deserve it). If it hurts, then you’ve just experienced consciousness.

If you’re following this so far, good. It’s pretty simple. You are aware, and therefore, consciousness exists. But before we go on, let’s knock down an argument from the opposition.

Nonsensical Opposing Argument: “Consciousness is an illusion created by the brain. We aren’t really conscious, it just feels that way.”

Yes, I’ve actually heard plenty of people make this argument, even though it’s obviously contradictory. I can’t imagine what kind of self-fear a person must have to desperately believe that they have no consciousness, despite their direct experience of thought and feeling. It’s disturbing. But anyway, I hope you intuitively grasp the contradiction.

illusion [i-loo-zhuhn] –noun: something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.

If consciousness is an illusion, who is being deceived? Who is being misled? You can’t deceive a rock. You can only deceive a conscious being. If illusions exist, then consciousness exists. If consciousness is an illusion, then illusions exist, and therefore consciousness exists. It can’t get anymore contradictory than that.

Now that we have a solid basis, let’s delve deeper.

Logic Step #1: If consciousness exists, it is either completely physical or not completely physical. In other words, there are two possibilities: either our ability to think and feel is either a physical phenomenon created entirely by the brain, or it requires something metaphysical, like a soul or life-force. With this statement, I’m partitioning the entire realm of possibilities into two non-overlapping cases, because it makes this problem easier to figure out.

Let’s explore each one of these cases separately.

Case 1: Consciousness is not completely physical. If consciousness is not an entirely physical phenomenon, then there must be some metaphysical aspect to it. In this case, you can pretty much believe whatever you want — something like a soul must exist, and there’s really no good reason to believe that consciousness dies with the body. The physical world endlessly recycles matter and energy, so why wouldn’t the metaphysical world endlessly recycle consciousness? This possibility opens a huge can of metaphysical worms and scares the dark matter out of scientists, so of course, they refuse to even consider the thought. But for most people, this is a pretty happy conclusion.

Case 1 conclusion: If consciousness is not completely physical, it is partly metaphysical.

But consciousness is physical, you say. Maybe all that fufu metaphysical stuff doesn’t do it for you. That’s fine, because the idea that consciousness is created by our brains is even more interesting. Let’s explore that case.

Case 2: Consciousness is completely physical. In physics, numbers have to add up. When you add up the mass of particles in a rock, the total mass of particles equals the total mass of the rock. The mass of the rock already exists in the mass of the particles. What is it, in the brain, that adds up to consciousness? Where does it come from?

In physics, every property of any object is the sum of the properties of every particle within that object. For example, the heat energy of a steel rod is equal to the sum of the heat energy of the rod’s molecules. The charge of a molecule is equal to the sum of the charges of it’s particles. Energy works the same way, and science tells us that energy is just another form of matter. Everything in physics is a sum of its component matter and energy. And so must be consciousness, if it is a physical thing.

Logic Step #3: If consciousness is completely physical, then consciousness is a property of matter and/or energy.

Yep — that means that every quark possibly has some sort of awareness. And why not? If you kick a rock, it has to know, so it can get up and start rolling. Rocks may not be able to think…or can they? (They can take sunlight as input, process it into heat, and store it in a crystalline structure until a lizard’s belly requests the output. That sounds like a computer to me!) It doesn’t have to be the quarks that are aware; it could be, say, the weak force (although this distinction has been diminished by findings that matter and forces are really the same thing). Either way, some physical building block is aware.

Now, science knows something about matter and energy. It’s eternal. Matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed — common knowledge for anyone who passed a physics class. And consciousness, if physical, is  inherent to matter/energy.

Case 2 conclusion: If consciousness is completely physical, then consciousness cannot be destroyed.

There you have it. Either consciousness is metaphysical and possibly eternal, or consciousness is physical and assuredly eternal. Either way, it sounds like a good deal to me.

EDIT 9/26/06: Paragraph 22 was carefully re-worded to avoid sloppy logic.

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77 Responses to “Logical proof that consciousness is eternal”

  1. Shaun Says:

    Awsome, man, just awsome. You nailed everything on the head with 100% accuracy. This is exactly how I’ve always looked at consciousness and wondered why scientists assume it is physical.

  2. Jennifer Cecelia Stanley Says:

    Wonderful. well – I haven’t read it yet but I printed it out and after I take a shower for bed Im gonna read it. But still, I have a feeling it’s gonna be good.

  3. Daniel Straitiff Says:

    Quite frankly, i find your claims as an attack. You say these things and make them appear as if they are so totally polar that they are the same as yes and no. The truth is, they aren’t. Honestly, who knows whether the physical world really exists, who knows if the metaphysical world entirely is just made up in our minds by the hopes and wishes we have. Again, quite honestly, noone. Because when it comes down to it we aren’t entirely sure or what is reality and what isnt. And your claims that scientists are “scared” of metaphysical reality is quite intrusive and assuming. What a scientist does is proove or disproove certain aspects of life through theory, inquiry, and experiment. A scientists job is simply to learn the truth about certain questions, to find the answers to lifes great mysteries. They are simply searching through what they can find and physically examine right before them, that being physical mass. However this does not necessarily mean there is no metaphysical, I personally believe the two work in harmony and one cannot exist without the other, but it is saying that we do not yet have the means of examining and analyzing metaphysical data, so we resort to what we can. Realistically, there is no possible way of proving that it isn’t just a physical thing or a metaphysical thing. We can only assume, but i find your statement on the conciousness of a rock quite amusing. We really dont know whether a rock has conciousness or not, it just doesn’t have means of communicating that conciousness to us. Look at sponges for example, they sit doing nothing but filtering water and growing at an agonizing rate all their lives. Rocks do similar things, they slowly erode and can be heated. The thing is it may just be a very dormant organism, what we consider non-living isn’t necessarily non-living, it’s simply what WE have PLACED as the RULES to non-living. Now what i found amusing was this :” They can take sunlight as input, process it into heat, and store it in a crystalline structure until a lizard’s belly requests the output. That sounds like a computer to me”. Now seriously, the heat that emenates from a rock isnt light having been processed, because of the fact a rock has no means of processing anything, let alone sunlight for that matter. Sunlight itself is only one of the many waves sent by the sun. The sun also sends UV rays and solar wind. The heat is contained in the UV rays, not the light. It is already heat. The heat you feel when you put your hand on a rock is the heat from those UV rays reflecting off of the rock. The rock does nothing itself to be heated. Also, it is never stored, because of the fact that the rock is heated only when in the light and slowly cools and is usually less heated, if not cold, when in the shade. The heat isnt stored, it is simply the atoms of the rock themselves being heated, heat is defined as thermal energy, or expressed through high vibration, but when all things are vibrating…all…things, that says nothing of the rocks living being. A rock, as far as heat and sunlight is concerned, is just that. A rock. If a rock can store it’s heat until a lizard requests it from the rock, then why would lizards enjoy laying on rocks under heat lamps and not the ones in the shade as well. I believe that a lot of what you’re saying is simply opinion and through that opinion, an expression through what you believe are facts. That doesn’t, however, necessarily make them facts. Enjoy your silly delusions of rock computers and scared scientists. But personally i think youre really being quite close minded and your mind is transfixed on proving one goal before seeing the entire spectrum of possibility. Who says there truly is physical or metaphysical, who says there is any reality, who says this itself isnt the metaphysical world. Maybe we ARE all just a computer program, but that is simply again another theory formed only through what we know. We cannot truly philosophize about what we dont know when we cant comprehend it. But i personally think you should watch, Understanding the Ten Dimensions. It’s a flash film. Search it on Google. It will show you what i mean about who knows what reality is. When you can do certain things such as bend reality and time, then who knows what reality is.
    Thank you for your time and effort put forth into this piece, I respect your beliefs and ideals but personally do not agree.
    again, Thank you for exploring the confinds of the human mind with me, its one of my specialties.
    Happy hunting through the Maniacal Psyche we call Human Being. or in Zach Braffs words
    ” GOOD LUCK EXPLORING THE INFINITE ABYSS”
    ..sure seems like one sometimes.
    Goodnight

    Daniel

    • taransula Says:

      here’s the problem with the “everything is reduced to mindless matter” crowd. You assume somehow that your LACK of direct experiential proof of the metaphysical, or spiritual, is somehow more valid than another person’s EXPERIENCE of direct personal proof of the same. Once you have personally experienced proof of the divine, or the metaphysical (And i’m not talking old man in the sky here), you can’t go back. There is more to the universe than matter, we are all part of an infinite Mind experiencing itself. And the thing is, the person who has NEVER experienced such a thing, still has the opportunity to do so! The door never closes.

      I think this explains why atheism has dwindled to 1.8% worldwide (and far less if you count metaphysical thinkers who don’t go to church).

      So absence of direct proof in your personal life has zero bearing on the presence of direct proof in mine. That is what scientists fail to understand. Absolute reality does not fit into the confines of our limited communal materialist world view.

      Right thinkers are MORE spiritual and less religious, and yes that means less dogmatic. This applies to bible thumping preachers, atheists, and closed minded scientists alike.

      (great article by the way!)

  4. Shaun Says:

    And your claims that scientists are “scared” of metaphysical reality is quite intrusive and assuming.

    ^^^^ Well, maybe they should stop acting that way, then?

  5. John M Says:

    It seems more likely that consciousness, if physical, depends on entropy rather than being simply ‘made of’ matter/energy. In which case your argument for the perpetuityof consciousness is not completely correct. I personally believe consciousness is not physical, but your argument does not convince.
    John

  6. Daniel Says:

    Daniel Straitiff: I tried to find independent verification of this statement: “The heat is contained in the UV rays, not the light. It is already heat.” According to what I found, I still think I’m right, but I’m not an expert. If you have any sources, please share them. The simple fact that pavement is still warm after the sun goes down seems to disprove the idea that “heat you feel when you put your hand on a rock is the heat from those UV rays reflecting off of the rock.”

    John M: Stating that my “argument does not convince” would be more helpful if you could point out some sort of flaw in my argument. Anyway, I too doubt that consciousness is physical. However, I want to hear more about consciousness possibily depending on entropy. Can you explain what you mean, or point me to some internet resource that explains this idea?

  7. XyKyWyKy Says:

    Wow. The rocks are conscious? Then consciousness is everywhere and in everything. I actually think this is true on some level. This means I am eating and excreting consciousness all the time. Wow.

  8. John M Says:

    Entropy is a measure of ‘degree of disorder’ in a system. Negative entropy (‘negentropy’) is related to ‘useful energy’ in Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics and to ‘information’ in Information Theory. It is a property of the system or ensemble as a whole. Consciousness is highly organised rather than purely random, so if it were to be considered a physical attribute in the physical world it would be low in entropy, high in negentropy or ‘information’. It would depend on the physical organisation of the atoms or brain cells rather than being present, in small measure, in each of them. For further info on entropy see books (or websites) on thermodynamics, statistical mechanics or information theory.

    But it’s a big ‘if’, I think. If it required energy in the physical world, where would it get the energy from? Energy/matter is observed to be conserved in the physical world but only for all the observed physical processes that go on. What energy would then be left over and available (in the physical world) for consciousness?

    Prof David Chalmers (‘The Conscious Mind’, 1996) has, in the light of succeeding failures by consciousness-researchers to account for the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness (i.e. qualia) in terms of physical brain-function, proposed that consciousness be considered an irreducible entity in its own right like space, time and mass/energy, not reducible to further physical terms or explanation.

    However, if consciousness is not physical then presumably it does not reside in the skull or, in fact, anywhere in physical space. This might open the door to the possibility of explanations of telepathy, and similar phenomena which are observed or reported (see ‘The Conscious Universe’, by Dean Radin, 1997). It might also suggest the possibility of out-of-body experiences and survival of consciousness after death of the brain, i.e. an afterlife, for which there appears to be a lot of evidence that’s difficult to refute (see, for example, ‘Is There An Afterlife? – A Comprehensive Overview of the Evidence’, by Prof David Fontana, 2005).

    For further relevant treatment I could recommend ‘Does It Matter? – The Unsustainable World of the Materialists’, by Graham Dunstan Martin, 2005.

    John M

  9. Daniel Straitiff Says:

    To your reply:Daniel Straitiff: I tried to find independent verification of this statement: “The heat is contained in the UV rays, not the light. It is already heat.” According to what I found, I still think I’m right, but I’m not an expert. If you have any sources, please share them. The simple fact that pavement is still warm after the sun goes down seems to disprove the idea that “heat you feel when you put your hand on a rock is the heat from those UV rays reflecting off of the rock.”

    thus why i stated : Also, it is never stored, because of the fact that the rock is heated only when in the light and slowly cools and is usually less heated, if not cold, when in the shade.
    Also…for how long after the sun goes down is the driveway hot? Not long. Since a sunset works over a gradual amount of time a driveway remaining hot after the sunset is unlikely after any long period of time. However if you were to move a rock from the sun into the shade, yes the rock will stay warm for a while, however, still not very long, simply because of the fact that there is no longer any heat source, if the rock could store the Heat itself it could be in the shade and be hot for hours, the heat is simply the energy being expelled through motion in the atoms and molecules. Taking something from a hot to a cold place slows that motion, but it takes time. Heating something is much more rapid. If you look up the definition of heat i believe you can find it as ” energy being expelled through work” thus stating that as the atoms slow in vibration they become colder, however they cannot simply stop, the rock in no way stores the energy, it simply becomes hot. It’s as if you were saying that when you bake a loaf of bread, by heating it, it is storing energy. I think your claims and statements aren’t quite thoroughly thought through from every angle.

    also, to John M:
    Entropy: Wonderful work. Went over entropy and enthalpy in my College Bio course in the past month. But i highly respect and appreciate your wealth of all around knowledge in Information Theory as well as knowledge. Are you at all interested in quantum physics or String Theory? I am quite in love with it. Thanks
    Daniel

  10. Daniel Straitiff Says:

    as a response to Shaun: And your claims that scientists are “scared” of metaphysical reality is quite intrusive and assuming.

    ^^^^ Well, maybe they should stop acting that way, then?

    you only percieve it as acting scared, but yet again, its simply your opinion that they are scared, you couldn’t ever be quite sure that they are scared until you place them into an CATScan machine and search the nerve impulses in their brain to find the fear receptors firing neurons when the scientist is introduced to something have to do with the metaphysical world. In my opinion Scientists are simply searching for more plausible and graspable proof.

    • taransula Says:

      Science is a very slow moving body. It will be another 50 years before we admit the Sphinx is pre-ice age lol. Gobekli Tepe, Dwarka and other 10,000+ year old sites are absolute and undeniable proof of pre-civilization, but if the hilarious parade of excuses and denials archaeologists come up with are any indication, it will be a long time before the laws of physics are proper amended. Too many books have been published on the “Cradle of Civilization,” which means rewriting our history is a painful process. But it’s already begun and there’s no stopping it.

      So when it comes to new sciences like underwater archaeology or quantum physics, it will take bold minds honestly seeking THE TRUTH without preconditions, to help us reach the next level.

      If there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that paradigm shift is unavoidable.

      The Trilithon in Rome is the best example I can think of. Three 800 ton stone blocks moved and laid over impossible terrain. The historians take a look and come up with a huge list of equally ridiculous attempts to fit these stones into the narrative of early human technology. Then a team of engineers- with no vested interest in the history of mankind have a go. The consensus is universal. We can’t move the stones now, and they couldn’t move them back then with the technology that was available to the best of our knowledge.

      Scientific tantrums aren’t the answer. The answer is to figure out how they did it.

  11. Theseus Says:

    I want to begin by stating that I did enjoy the post and I essentially agree with your assessment of the dogmatism of science; however, I do think that the distinctions you raised in your analysis has misconstrued some of the ideas of consciousness and has even left some of them (the most pertinent ones) out.

    First, naturalists are not forced to maintain that consciousness is entirely physical. Property Dualism and logical supervenence seem to create another alternative for one that wishes to hold onto the naturalistic picture of the universe. Case #2 and Logic Step #3 are then invalid when understood through this line of argumentation. Further, John Searle, who is not a property dualist, has also made some arguments that essentially seem to undercut your thesis.

    Second, you have defined the alternative to this picture of consciousness as a belief in a soul that is vaguely reminiscent of Descartes. I must remind you that this is not the only other plausible alternative. With what we know of the operations of the brain and neurobiology, Thomistic dualism seems in much better shape to offer an alternative than Cartesianism. It is far from obvious that consciousness is drastically connected to the brain and I would even say that it is physical. If I hit you on the head with a two-by-four, you will lose consciousness. I think that that is pretty much beyond dispute. But if the brain does not somehow or another constitute a human beings consciousness, then I think we would have difficulty explaining why this is the case.

    Another readily available example is the split brain patient. Sometimes in severe cases of epilepsy a doctor is forced to cut the corpus callosum, i.e., the tissue that connects the right half and left half of the brain. What happens when this is done? Experiments have been performed in which a spoon is held in the left visual field of a patient. The patient sees the spoon because his visual reception in his left eye is linked to the right side of the brain; however, though he sees the object, when he is asked what he sees he replies that he does not see anything––this being because the right side cannot communicate with the left. But then something even more fantastic happens. The patient reaches out with his left hand, which is connected to the right side of his brain, and grabs the spoon from the one performing the experiment.

    One last objection: If one refuses to acknowledge that consciousness is mostly, or entirely, reliant on the physical one will be forced to claim, with Descartes, that either animals have no consciousness or that they possess souls. Examination of dogs, cats, apes, &c., seem to indicate that though they possess a consciousness qualitatively distinct (even deficient) from human beings, they still do have one.

    So are you forced to conclude that one does not survive after death? Not necessarily. Thomistic dualism allows that consciousness is physical but also believes in a soul. The soul, however, should not be understood in the Cartesian since.

    Suggested reading: “The Soul is Not Me,” by Thomas Aquinas…it is only 2 pages but it will show you how different this dualism is from Cartesianism.

    Sorry for such a long comment!

  12. Yoshi Says:

    @Daniel – I dont agree with any of the article, but you seem not to have a clue what you are going on about in your replies. Please don’t post long-winded replies again without something useful.. or intelligent to say.

  13. Daniel Says:

    @Theseus: You’re absolutely right about property dualism. For those of you who don’t know what that is, property dualism is a philosophy of mind, and a subbranch of emergent materialism. It asserts that when matter is organized in the appropriate way (i.e., organized in the way that living human bodies are organized), mental properties emerge. However, if one can disprove the whole idea of emergence, property dualism is rendered invalid, and my Logic Step 3 still stands. For a thrashing of emergence theory, see my post on The Logical Fallacy of Division. I personally think that emergence theory is ridiculous. As for John Searle, I’ll worry about him when you give me more specifics.

    Regarding Thomistic Dualism and other alternative possibilities to totally physical consciousness, I simply said something like a soul must exist. I don’t think that rules out Thomistic Dualism. “Something like a soul” might mean a construct of consciousness-particles. It could be anything. My definition of soul is pretty broad.

    Lastly, I have no problem with Dogs having souls. If humans have souls, why wouldn’t other conscious beings?

  14. John M Says:

    It’s your Logic Step 3 that’s wrong. You just draw the idea that individual atoms have consciousness out of the hat. I repeat: it’s the way in which the atoms are organised (i.e. the entropy of the system) that would, on a physical theory, be the relevant physical quantity, not the energy/matter. You somehow relate consciousness to matter/energy without any justification. The whole thing is waffly, vague, hand-waving, non-rigorous and frankly just plain wrong! If consciousness were related to entropy I’m afraid the argument would fail, because unlike matter/energy it is not conserved.

    So the whole thing is a nonsense. But don’t worry, consciousness ain’t physical anyway!

    And you weren’t intending to be serious, anyway, were you?

    Were you?

    John M

  15. Daniel Says:

    @John M: My ideas were not pulled out of a hat. It’s called Reductionism. If the brain has mass, then its constituent particles have mass. If the brain has volume, then its constituent particles have volume. If the brain has consciousness, then its constituent particles have consciousness.

    You don’t subscribe to Reductionism, apparently. I take it you believe in Emergence. The problem is, Emergence is a fraud. Properties don’t pop into existence due to arrangement of matter. If so, I’d be arranging matter into arcane symbols to materialize money and beautiful women. Too bad it doesn’t work that way.

    Also, if Emergence is true, there are billions of different arrangements that “create” consciousness. Every human brain is physically different. Every animal brain is different, and there are millions of species of animals. At the very least, every mammal and bird appears to be conscious. If so many different arrangements of matter create consciousness, it must not be very hard to do. Wouldn’t it be simpler to believe that consciousness is in everything?

    Also, you seem to be weilding the word “entropy” like a club. I’m not scared of the word because I know what it means. Knowing what it means, I can’t see what the heck it has to do with consciousness.

  16. John M Says:

    1. Let’s not misunderstand each other. I believe neither in emergence nor in reductionism. I (like you?) believe consciousness is metaphysical, not susceptible to a physical explanation. David Chalmers in his papers and his book, The Conscious Mind (1996), appears to be the first conventional or main-stream scientist to put forward such a thesis. Since my wife died recenty I find this extremely encouraging as it has several satisfactory possible consequences such as that consciousness continues after death of the brain. It might also explain other phenomena like out-of-body experiences.

    2. However, I do not believe your argument above is a rigorous and valid proof that consciousness is eternal, though this conclusion seems likely. You only represent one form of physicalism that you appear to think is reductionism. I implied the emergent arguments need to be refuted when I mentioned entropy. Since I do not wish to ‘wield entropy like a club’ I will briefly say why I have mentioned it. A physicalist argument might go like this: A conscious state (even the sensation of a colour ‘red’, say) contains (or is made up of, or even ‘is’) ‘information’ (in the technical sense of the word). Information is negative entropy, as you know.

    3. Every state of consciousness has a physical brain state as a correlate. Hence the entropy of each physical brain state will (for a physicalist) be instrumental in determining the information content of the conscious state.

    4. However, it does not seem possible that a physical state, however complex, can give rise to subjective experience of colours, smells, sounds, etc, none of which exist in the physical world. One cannot describe apples in terms of oranges. So I do not believe in emergence arguments.

    5. Moving to reductive explanation, this is described by Chalmers as: ‘An explanation solely in terms of simpler entities’. Unfortunately I believe you misrepresent reductive explanation. Simply assigning a certain amount of consciousness to a certain fixed quantity of matter is not a way of giving a reductive explanation of consciousness in terms of matter. It leaves consciousness unexplained. This is not a reductive explanation, or any explanation at all. Thus your proof breaks down. But I want to believe in your conclusion with all my heart!

    6. I have noticed your other websites and they are inspiring! I am a physical scientist just beginning to break out of the materialist straitjacket.

  17. Ghosts/spirits/presences are a myth (Warning: Science included!) - Page 2 - Personal Development for Smart People Forums Says:

    […] Wow this is amazing stuff, I think the in-depth attempt to show ghosts as a myth is defintely awesome. TechnoGuyRob you have definitely got me much more interested in physics As has been said here before, Objective/Subjective reality makes all the difference. If you believe that certain set of laws are the control of the universe, then these laws shall control the universe for you. Science can prove anything to itself, and people who follow the law of attraction can prove the existence of their laws as well. Two things I want to point out, 1) Results are the measure of all things. Since there is potentially billions of people who have been in contact with spirits at some point in their physical lives – these results prove their own existence – in the observer’s reality, not in yours or in the scientific community’s or anyone else’s. 2) Physics has a few holes in it too. There is a lack of some "particles" in physics. While I definitely will not say that physics is one of the most advanced fields of all science, it still has much to discover. Especially when it comes to conciousness (see Logical proof that consciousness is eternal The Search for Magic). So all in all, hats off to you for such extensive work and keep on going, I know we all want to see advancement in these areas and the only way to make that happen is through debate. […]

  18. Daniel Straitiff(not the other daniel) Says:

    Yoshi
    simply because your line of thinking is not equivalent to mine, and you dont agree with what i say, nor completely understand the points i am trying to get across
    does not mean i am unintelligent. Next time, if you’re going to say someone is unintelligent at least prove yourself worthy of calling them unintelligent by proving your own intelligence.

  19. The Existence of Consciousness...? - Personal Development for Smart People Forums Says:

    […] I thought this was pretty interesting Logical proof that consciousness is eternal The Search for Magic […]

  20. Lee Says:

    Your conservation argument that “numbers have to add up” is a false generalization. For example, one molecule of carbon can react with one molecule of oxygen to produce one molecule of carbon dioxide, but 1 + 1 = 2.

    Test your argument on any clock. You obtain a false conclusion that either every bit of matter (or energy) possesses “clockness” or every clock is at least partly metaphysical.

  21. Daniel Says:

    That’s a very weak argument, Lee. That’s like saying one number plus one number equals one other number. For example, one number, 8, plus another number, 4, equals one number, 12. So what? 8 + 4 still equals twelve.

    A “molecule” is just a conceptual unit, a grouping of atoms. The atoms still add up, and so does the mass.

  22. Daniel Says:

    Oh yeah, all matter does possess “clockness”. Clocks work mechanically, just like, you know, all physical things.

  23. Lee Says:

    Daniel, the original argument was that if consciousness is completely physical it must be conserved. Any example of something completely physical but not conserved, no matter how trivial, suffices to invalidate that argument. If the numbers don’t add up for molecules (which are physical), one cannot insist that they do for consciousness.

    Your assertion that “clocks are physical” implies “all matter possesses clockness” fails because there is no law of conservation of clockness.

  24. Daniel Says:

    So you don’t believe in the conservation of matter and energy…because two molecules can chemically react and form one molecule. Priceless.

    Please read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism

    Now. “Clockness” is a property. As a property, it is reducible to more simple properties. What are the properties of a clock? It has mass, it can move, it can make a noise, et cetera. Those are basic properties of all matter.

    For instance, the solar system is a type of clock. You can count days by watching the sun, months by watching the moon, years by watching the weather. The whole universe has “clockness.”

    Instead of just being contrarian, why can’t you recognize the common-sense, obvious points I make?

  25. Lee Says:

    Daniel, there’s no point in ridiculing something I didn’t claim. Two molecules can chemically react to form one molecule, so that “number of molecules present” is not conserved in the reaction, although “number of atoms present” is conserved. There is no implication as to whether or not there is conservation of mass and energy during the reaction.

    Accepting the principle of conservation of mass and energy doesn’t imply that consciousness is conserved any more than it implies that “number of molecules present” is conserved.

    Consider “In physics, every property of any object is the sum of the properties of every particle within that object.” This doesn’t tell us how to sum different properties of particles, such as mass, electrical charge, relative position and shape (if the particles have shape). If we knew how, we might or might not succeed in verifying it by conducting experiments. Such experimental verification exists only in a few special cases, and the principle of conservation of mass and energy is accepted because of the experimental evidence available, not because it follows logically from any (more general) principle of reductionism.

    The original argument was put forward as a logical proof, rather than one that ultimately rests on experimental evidence. There is no logical proof of the reductionism principle used.

    The number of numbers is not conserved in arithmetic summation. That is consistent with my argument, and neither weakens nor strengthens it.

    I withdraw my comments about clocks.

  26. Daniel Says:

    Lee, this should clear things up: I said that IF concsciousness is a property of matter/energy, then it can’t be destroyed, because matter/energy can’t be destroyed.

    “Molecule” is not a property of matter/energy, it’s a grouping of matter/energy, so your analogy doesn’t work.

    When you think about it, any time you destroy something, the deeper reality, or the building blocks of that something, are still preserved. You can’t really get rid of anything.

  27. Lee Says:

    Daniel, “number of molecules present” is a measurable property of the material under consideration, and relates to various other properties of it which determine what reactions occur. However, “number of molecules present” is not conserved, even though “number of atoms present” is and mass/energy is.

    When four “building blocks” happen to be at the four corners of a square, the resulting squareness is a property of the set of blocks, but that doesn’t imply that the individual blocks each possess a small amount of squareness. The individual blocks merely possess existence, not squareness. Squareness can be destroyed. Similarly, consciousness can be destroyed if it is partly due to how matter is positioned, which is certainly a possibility.

  28. Daniel Says:

    Lee, you’re confusing properties for values of those properties. Shape is a property, not squareness. You can’t destroy shape, you can only change it. And besides, a square is just a mental idea we use to think about objects, it’s not really part of the object — look close enough and the squares disappear. Same with groups, like molecules. You look close enough, it’s all quarks. The deeper reality is always conserved, although ideas in our minds, like “square,” may not apply any more.

    Can you destroy a book without destroying the pages? What if I rip out every page and send them to different cities. I “destroyed” the book, but all the pages are in tact and accounted for. EVERY SINGLE PART OF THE BOOK STILL EXISTS. What happened to the book, then? Was it just an idea in my mind?

    Do you think consciousness can pop into existence because of how some particles are positioned? Do you believe a demon can pop into existence because of how some candles, stones, and arcane symbols are positioned? What you believe in is sorcery.

  29. Lee Says:

    Daniel, you sought to show that the assumption that consciousness is completely physical logically implies that it is eternal. To do that, you need to consider whether consciousness might be a property of a sufficiently complicated arrangement of matter that isn’t intrinsic to every component part of that matter. Your opinion that that is implausible is just an opinion, not a logical proof.

    In attempting to provide a logical proof, you are either indirectly assuming what you are trying to prove, which is a logical fallacy, or claiming that any alternative is logically absurd, when in fact at least one alternative is absurd in your opinion rather than as a logical consequence.

    We commonly encounter physical properties which seem to relate to overall shape (which is due to positioning of components), or at any rate something other than what atoms are present. For example, graphite and diamond have some different properties, but are both just carbon.

    When you take a book apart and incinerate each page, it at some stage becomes totally unreadable. Though all its atoms still exist, their arrangement no longer provides certain properties required of a book.

    As for the distinction between properties and values of properties, you have stated nothing to show that consciousness cannot be viewed as a set of values rather than a set of properties. If consciousness is treated as values, your argument fails. For comparison, consider what we call colour. Whether that’s treated as a property or a value, it’s neither metaphysical nor eternal.

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  32. Gurumurthy Says:

    Consciousness is a property of matter. It acts more like magnetism, meaning it is a vector and not scalar. We all know that though each atom of an element exhibits magnetism, all the atoms put together may or may not show up magnetism at all. Every piece of iron is not a magnet. Only by properly aligning the atoms, the magnetic vector of each of the atoms can be reinforced along a certain direction. In the same way, though matter exhibits consciousness at the the level of quark (smallest known particle as of date… may be in due course of time, with the help of the LHC project at CERN, we will discover something even more smaller but more potent in consciousnes), when quarks get together to form higher levels of matter (protons / neutrons, atoms, molecules etc..) the resulting consciousness vector is rather weak. But, at this level the matter begins to show physical and chemical properties. When molecules become very very complex (biological cells), matter begins to show consciousness again. Body of a plant, animal or human shows up life (consciousness) until all the essential parts forming the body work together in unison to maintain the alignment of the consciousness vector. Any of the essential parts failing will loosen the grip on the particles constituitng the body and the body as a whole looses its so called consciousness (dies). The order is lost and ‘Entropy’ restored. There is no matter which is not conscious. The degree varies however from one to another. The so called non-living matter like soil /rock etc..is construed to be at the level of ‘cosmic unconsiousness’. Unconsciousness does not mean no consciousness. It only means a substantially a lower level of consciousness.

  33. Mark Says:

    That’s a lot of scientific words you’re using there Gurumurthy. Where’s the scientific evidence to justify those words?

  34. Gurumurthy Says:

    I understand what you say Mr. Mark… Indeed there is no better way than going beyond mind to know CONSCIOUSNESS (the noun) and consciousness (the adjective). Science will eventually come close to discovering the truths I have outlined. But, the only way to know the truth is through Meditation. Logic (realm of the mind) will not be of any use.

  35. Carrotts Says:

    I had the strangest dream last night whose main message was “conciousness is eternal”. This statement was repeated and seemed to be of very significant importance in the dream… So after I woke up, I googled “conciousness is eternal” for hahas and I found your blog. You make some good points. But according to the dream, there are variuos forms of conciousness that extend far beyond physical or spiritual beings. There are forms of conciousness that we cannot even begin to wrap our brains around because they are so very foreign to anything we know, have experienced or can even image. It made sense in the dream. I don’t know if it does now. But basically, it said that ‘conciuosness’ will always be, over and over again. When our physical bodies quit, our conciousness takes on another type of existance (not always spiritual) but existance nonetheless and keeps going on and on.. It was a cool dream. Glad I was lucky enough to pluck that message outta the ether and find this interesting blog site.

  36. paul Says:

    What if the consciousness is like an mp3 file on a CD (CD is the support of mp3)? if you destroy the CD, where mp3 goes (considering that you don’t have a backup copy) ?

  37. michael Says:

    Consciousness is the most wonderful thing that has emerged from organised matter – self organised perhaps , even so , in a darwinian sense it is a survival tool , and otherwise an arbitrary side effect of high level integrated perception .
    Alternatively it is a playful divine gift . Or all of these things .
    There is some doubt as to whether conciousness can be adequately refined to explain itself .
    Regarding human conciousness , it is indeed more commonly tied in with the living physical brain .
    Can there be a metaphysical conciousness ?
    In the sense that everything is metaphysical , yes .
    All the arguments of Richard Dawkins cannot explain the ultimate question .
    Why is there anything at all ? Energy , matter , why are they there , and why ready with potential for chemistry and biological life ?
    If I will it strongly enough , perhaps I can take my own conciousness to somewhere outside my body .
    If then I can effect some interaction with the material world , leave a mark on a rock , or interact with another person or another travelling conciousness . If I could achieve these things , I could check them out .

  38. Jennifer Cecelia S. Says:

    Perhaps the idea behind the rock is not actually consciousness- or maybe in a way it is- but really, it seems as though it is not an actual entity, but a FORCE. Force is something that can be perceived as a something conscious- or maybe it is conscious, but not literally- but in a way, because forces are parts of the universe, making them part of all consciousness, so it has life to it- because life forms are composed of different means of forces. I mean, I think I might be on to SOMETHING.

  39. antechristos Says:

    All that really has to be said in response to this post, if someone is looking, is rather colloquial: Emergent properties. There doesn’t need to be any discussion of thermodynamics, UV light, mathematics, etc. (Although I enjoy reading them.) A simple soap bubble can explain why there is consciousness and also why it is NOT (necessarily) eternal. The aggregation of soap molecules creates a bubble, separate the molecules and no more bubble, hence emergent properties. When you are alive an emergent property is consciousness, when you die or disrupt the finely tuned machinery that creates consciousness, it is relieved. this not only explains why there is consciousness but taken farther it can explain where it came from and why its there…not to mention why if a person is in a coma, due to an accident, they have no consciousness…

    This also explains why there are different conscious types or experience or beings the different forms of aggregation.

    colloquialisms are cute…which means religions are cute…

  40. antechristos Says:

    Lee probably said it first and best!
    thanks for being on the logical side…

  41. antechristos Says:

    since Daniel seems to know about atoms and quarks, considering the copious amounts of vocabulary he likes to worthlessly throw around, he should understand more of the basics of quantum physics, one of the major breakthroughs in scientific research: finding quarks and their DIFFERENT properties. Quarks make up atoms which have different properties as quarks. our world is based on emergence. surfactants create bubbles when organized in a specific manner, bubbles have much different properties than singular soap molecules (LIKE THE ABILITY TO HOLD AIR!!!! duh), which lipid molecules, singly, don’t have. come on man..your argument is the weakest i have ever heard.

    the logical conclusion to your argument is that every atom would contain the same properties, which is completely absurd, or that every atom has the possibility to be everything, which is also absurd, via that would mean that every atom has the same properties, which we have already claimed was absurd.

    (all atoms don’t contain “clock-ness”, just as all atoms don’t have the same number of quarks, just as all quarks, don’t have the same spin) Your argument is juvenile. And by the way if you take the same atoms and combine them in the same manner you will always get the same molecule -DUH. there are copious amounts of examples of emergence which prove you wrong.
    -what I’m saying is that there MAY be eternal consciousness but you can’t argue it St. Anselm. get over it….

    you should also be careful about giving abstract concepts physical properties. for example Justice doesn’t have physical properties whatsoever. how do you know anything about the properties of consciousness. Just because it seems strange to us doesn’t mean anything. Why do you, with all your bias, assume that consciousness is a benevolent feature of some preordained creature? It seems to me that you are Human-all-to-human with your prejudice.

    Consciousness could very well be a naturally produced phenomenon, which it is, and what-of-it? why is it so absurd to you? because you have an unjustified fear of the unknown: death. Why do you assume that not having consciousness is the worst thing that could happen? what the “truth” is, is that you, nor anyone else, has any clue. Yet, you seem to throw a negative connotation onto it and then you must invent (or perpetuate) the lie of eternal consciousness because your afraid and have preconceived notions from your horribly prejudice religion.

    OR is it because you actually think that you will go to heaven? So the after-life huh? By that you mean that your a degenerate that can’t make it in THIS world so you have to engulf yourself within a worthless lie to make yourself feel better while your alive. those are the only two explanations for belief in another world other than this one, with all its physicality.

    so your “either” a coward “or” your a degenerate. Which one is it Johannes de Silentio?

    • Yalcin Says:

      So wrong. You are making two assumptions about a person through what they are arguing for without any proof and you assume very negative values. So what are you trying to say when people want to try work out if there is a afterlife that they might see their loved ones again are cowards or degenerates? You insensitive idiot. Also why do people like you like to shut down people because an idea seems to imply wishful thinking? Heck if you read every science book and gain eternal knowledge and etc. Then according to you there would be no point of living because you know everything because to suggest there are things beyond your knowledge would be blasphemy to your ears. As Socrates pointed out when asked: why he does not fear death? He said while I am alive I am not dead and when I am dead I wont know I am dead. So why worry? But we worry for other people we love and the cold prospect of never seeing them again. If you call us cowards for trying to find reasonable ways (unlike some blind religions) of possibility of that happening however remote that may be then my friend go put on your stupid hat because we are not cowards. We have something you lack and that is faith.

  42. antechristos Says:

    forgot to include the most obvious example of emergence that proves that you are wrong Daniel…CLONING.

    two separate entities with the same consciousness…Hmmm hows that taste?

  43. antechristos Says:

    And rocks don’t have fucking consciousness you idiots, its billiard balls…..Jesus Christ (pun untended). when the photons hit the surface of the rock it absorbs the “energy” which is heat, thus increasing the temperature of the rock (much like when you drink a hot cup of coffee or tea). it is a mechanism -there is no choice- it happens that way because has/can.

  44. crestind Says:

    According to what you’ve written, it might be eternal, but it won’t be eternal in the form that we know it now sadly. But the goal is still to remain conscious for eternity in the state that we know it, and this would simply mean the consciousness is “broken up”.

  45. prosthesis91 Says:

    Consciousness is created by a physical object, the brain. When the brain is “destroyed” or dead, consciousness will not exist simply because the brain is not there to produce it.

    A simple example would be sleep. The part of the brain that “produces” consciousness shuts down, therefor, you’re unconscious.

    Simple logic.

  46. Jennifer C S Says:

    Personally, my interest in consciousness roots from an interest in preserving one’s soul. When I think about living on after death, I think about my body being gone by my soul continuing… but, does that mean that I be aware that I am without a body, that I am roaming around only as a soul, in other words, conscious of this? Will I have ‘consciousness’? Or, as many including myself have mentioned, but which antechristos explained… and now I want to research that and read about it a bit to further understand…. a force, or force on an object or an object moving due to its own strength which gave it the needed ability to create its own force for movement… is considered a sort of consciousness… well, I wonder… is there more than one way to refer to ‘consciousness’? And, is my mentioned kind of ‘consciousness’ eternal? I mean, if it ends up being true that the soul continues after one leaves the/his/her body, does one realize this, and continue onward like that, without a body? Do we even continue on? Do we blank out until we are somehow brought to a body or something? And, if that were the case, would that mean that during the time between death and not having a body, would we be unconscious? This is what puzzles me. ..

  47. - Says:

    I had similar ideas. My argument for some sort of afterlife is:
    Nothing is created or destroyed
    I exist
    I can’t be created or destroyed
    The original premise doesn’t just apply to matter and energy, it applies to everything that exists: a+b=a+b (where a is what is destroyed and b is the cause of destruction) unless a=0
    I know consciousness might be a process, but I view processes as being converted from kinetic to potential (like consciousness). I know consciousness might be a structure but
    the same can be said about it
    structures are just different FUNCTIONS of parts added together so it’s still a sum
    emergence doesn’t mean there’s something more than the sum of properties, that would be illogical.

  48. Anthony Says:

    Thing is, think of Consciousness in the same terms as Gravity… there is nothing “in” an apple than predicts Gravity; you cannot gather a bucket of gravity’ you cannot even quantify Gravity… what you can do is observe what Gravity does… but what it is, where is from… mystery… the nearest we can get is to understand that Gravity exists, or seems to operate, “between” objects of mass… accordingly, I suppose that Consciousness is similarly a “between” phenomenon… it is not “in” us but between us…

  49. Mark Bloomer Says:

    I look at this in two ways. Either the universe is not eternal (A pre-existing God had to create it, and therefore we have eternal life through our souls in God) Or else, the universe is, and always will be eternal. If the universe is eternal, then, given enough time, the atoms and molecules in a living organisms brain will again be exactly like those in yours (or my) brain, in which case we will exist again. In between now and then, we will not experience time, so from our vantage point, we will instantly re-incarnate. Either way, our consciousness has to be eternal.

  50. slik Says:

    I believe in eternal consciousness as well, but think of this. Heat is the effect produced by molecules being charged with kinnectic energy. Cold is the absence of that energy. Because matter and energy are eternal, it does not follow that heat is eternal. The reason is because heat is not “matter or energy” it is a type of energy, and thus it can be transfered into other forms of energy. Consciousness also is not matter or energy, but rather an effect produced by chemicals in the brain (from a biological point of view) thus when those chemicals stop interacting, the effect of consciousness would stop; just as music stops when the air vibrations stop.

  51. george Says:

    the only thing that seperates us is density

  52. MBK Says:

    Essentially what we are saying is that the universe has its own conciousness. We’ll call it “big conciousness.” If you’d like, you could think of us as biological machines that the universe has created to view and experience “itself.” We have “little conciousness.” Each of us move from “big consciousness” into “little consciousness” as we are born into humanity. When we “pass on” we rejoin the universe and move back into “big consciousness.”

    The question to ask is not whether we are conscious, but whether the universe itself has its own form of consciousness. I believe that the universe is both conscious and eternal. That is all for now. I hope everyone here will live good and full lives. Amen!

  53. Kirui Says:

    The knowledge we have of the fundamental building blocks of matter is entirely objective. No one have ever been an electron to experience what it is to be one exept the electron himself yet he cannot share his experience with us. Yet consciousness is an entirely subjective phenomenon.

    It is not at all necessary to say that electron is conscious. If it is not conscious, then it still has characteristic x which is unexperiensable yet the electron could be the only one cabable of experiencing x had it been conscious. In other words matter has inherent property that is of subjective nature already. It is the characteristic x which eventualy give rise to consciousness. Consciousness then is plausably a fundamental property of matter.

    For those who say consciousness emerge, the real problem is HOW? You must then illustrate such that we completely figure this out. The proplem is that you will be using a sum of TOTALY objective characteristics to try to illustrate how a TOTALY subjective phenomenon comes out. Litterary an ‘equation’ containing something in the left which is ENTIRELY ubsent in the right.

  54. Kirui Says:

    One way of viewing consciousness is analogy with magnetism. When you magnetise a material you don’t create magnetism from zero. The alignment of domains merely helps to bring something which was already there into manifestation. Similarly, you may say the ordelines of events in matter (brain) helps manifest awareness to the matter and not create it from zero. In a rock, awareness may be there in unmanifested form so that the matter is not aware just like magnetism in a piece of unmagnetised iron. It is like when you sleep, your awareness is in the form that does not make you aware of your self. You are ‘demagnetised’. You may say that a rock is thoroughly asleep. He can awake as anybody! It only depends on how it is internally ordered (to produce any brain)

  55. Kirui Says:

    Someone said that a bubble emerge. The characteristic of a bubble is merely a shape. The fundamental particles still have shape only that it is different form from that of a bubble. So a bubble does emerge but not from nowhere. The rule is simple, if it emerge from nothing, illustrate how it does so and the deal is done. I can illustrate how a bubble is build up from molecules. The fundamentaly conserved property is shape. A bubble is just a shape! Its ability to hold air does no emerge from zero it comes from property x. In this case, the molecules have the ability to block other molecules from passing. So we can illustrate how bubble harnes this property to hold air and we understand perfectly how the property of holding air emerge. Can people do so for consciousness?

    It is not enough to just assert that consciousness emerge. Try to figure out how and you will understand what we mean. Nor is it enough to give examples of what you think are emergent properties. It is consciousness particurlarly that we are interested in.

  56. william gundry Says:

    Great logical argument. But what consciousness is or isn’t, wheather its awareness/&/or self awareness, has an “is’ness about it, but does it? If it doesen’t then its beyond the scope of science. The only consciousness can be said to operate, is if its beyind the “is’ness, or existential predicate. And this condition will nnecessarily exclude it from any form of analysis. If”it” (consciousness) is physical, then”it” can be said to be a quality, and hence exluded from any non physical aspect. But if that is the case, its impossible to prove wheather “it” has existential prerogatives, or it is any different from physical properties.(Including chemical) in this case analysis is a pre-condition of “it’s” existence. The most primitive form of analysis being preception. And (Einstein 2nd relativity) to be “is to be percieved” but Being is not a necessary condition of existence. Evolution can happen (and some say it must) to assure that Being and existence (Sartre’s nothingness) rise above mere contingency. The eternity is in the fact that chance events can approach certainty,(conditionally) given an infinite series. I would favor this tyoe of argument over a strict logical, Cartesian argument. But some say, that Cartesian logic deserves a 2nd look. Gundryw@yahoo.com

  57. Jimmy Says:

    It cannot be created nor destroyed, but it can be transferred into a different ‘form’. Thus, effectively destroying consciousness. It’s mere semantics. The amount of energy in such a closed system does not change, but its manifestations can.

  58. Anthony Says:

    Think of Gravity. Nobody knows what Gravity “is”; all we do know is what it appears to do… Gravity does not appear to be “in” anything…. but between things… such is Consciousness; it does not reside “in” anything… but operates between them…. is Consciousness Eternal? Sure… but not for the individual observer..

  59. kyprifog Says:

    I want to believe your argument I really do for my own sanity. However, in the same way that matter is not an inherent property of the rock itself, but rather inherent to the configuration of the particles into the shape of the rock, the consciousness is not derived from the sum of each neuron but is rather an emergent behavior of the configuration of the neuron into a network. I.e. the consciousness is a property of the interactions of the agents with each other rather than of the agents themselves. Take for example, collective consciousness. A single bird, cow, or facebook tweeter cannot exhibit collective consciousness without the reinforced pathways it inherits from its multitudinous interactions with other agents. I.e. consciousness is a dynamic and not a static attribute unlike mass. Please I really want a counterargument here so I can believe.

  60. victor Says:

    The universe is a cycle of creative destruction where everything is conserved and transformed into something new as soon as it is destroyed. The universe is eternal. Consciousness on the other hand, I believe is not. Consciousness is transient and can not be conserved once it is destroyed. There is nothing that comes before or after it. Consciousness is our state of being, the sum total of our experiences, the emotions we went through, our hopes and dreams as well as our pain and our fears. It is something that is unique to the vessel of consciousness. I am what I am, probably not better than most but still irrefutably unique. And when I go, my consciousness will go with me and I will never be duplicated. I offer no proof or valid argument to support my belief that consciousness is not eternal. I am just saying that this is my opinion on the subject matter. Thank you for allowing me to comment.

  61. Gordon Says:

    I think it is very reasonable to consider that consciousness exists beyond life. The combination of evidence from many different sources supports this viewpoint. Near-death experiences are just one example of such evidence, although very good. Vivid and detailed memories of an apparent afterlife are retained by people whose brains have no measurable activity during the times when the experiences are known to happen, and frequently include verifiable information obtained in the out-of-body state when partients can see (for example) doctors and nurses working on attempts to resuscitate them.

    Add to that Ian Stevenson’s fine work on reincarnation– thousands of systematically investigated claims of reincarnation where there is sufficient detail to identify a specific previous individual life… most impressively, some cases show that birth defects or marks on a child match up with the fatal wounds of the previous individual.

    Add to that in general out-of-body experiences, which frequently enough involve obtaining verifiable information about remote locations in physical reality.

    You could potentially also add psi abilities. Contrary to what some would have us believe, the evidence for such things as telepathy and psychokinesis has been confirmed over and over again. Skeptics continue to manufacture ever more obscure and desperate objections to already well-performed experiments. Psi abilities show that there is more going on than just the known physical forces which are not capable of explaining the phenomena.

    If more evidence is needed, what about countless cases of subtle little reminders or even overt appearances of loved ones who have passed away?

    Sure we can still do philosophy and logical arguments, but seriously, I find the empirical approach satisfying enough and convincing enough to the careful observer.

  62. Bill Mc Says:

    It’s interesting to read the responses to this person’s argument for a logical proof that consciousness is eternal. The fact is we cannot and do not know, whilst alive in this world know the answer to this problem. Since the only absolute way to know, is to die! Both reasoning (logic) and empiricism (science) are limited. Certainty is limited by the method used to arrive at it. It is sad however, to note so much ‘character assassination’ of the person, who has reasonably put forward such an argument. In reasoning the ‘ad hominem’ approach to an argument. Namely, attacking the person rather than the argument, is always a sign of ignorance on behalf of the person who employ’s such a tactic.

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  65. Umunandi Says:

    I think this was well written. I also think that consciousness is an inherent property of matter-energy and eternal (but not that all things, like rocks, have a unified experience, I think only the molecules, atoms, and indivisible particles that inanimate objects like rocks are comprised of are sentient) but I think it’s a mistake to think of consciousness as ‘physical’. I think the physical (external, spatial) world and the internal, mental world are two fundamentally different dimensions of nature, or the ultimate reality, that are necessarily codependent. You can define the word ‘physical’ to include both but they’re two fundamentally different processes (I also think processes and not ‘substances’ are the basic units of reality). The only other logically and empirically plausible mind-body position, in my opinion, is idealism (which would include solipsism), the external, physical world having no mind-independent existence and consciousness being the only thing that’s real. Since there’s evidence for a physical world and my having a physical body, idealism is probably not true.

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  67. Ryan in L.A. Says:

    The nature of consciousness is maybe the biggest question of all and scientists know crap about it. We don’t even know if consciousness originates in the brain or elsewhere. What if our brains function like radio receivers and consciousness is an external wave that constantly evolves as bodies are born then die? NO ONE HAS A CLUE.

    But I believe your identity (your ego, friendships, familial bonds, your knowledge and everything you’re working to build) comes to a swift end when you die. And that’s really what scares the hell out of most people. That’s why religions perpetuate the notion that YOU (your ego) will continue forever whether it be in heaven or hell or Shirley MacLaine’s living room. If consciousness is “eternal” and you essentially wake up as someone (or something) else after you die…? That won’t satisfy the masses and might actually lead to a big spike in suicides by those looking to hit the “reset” button.

    I think the grand ‘illusion’ is our absurd perspective that our current lives carry great meaning. That kind of ego-mania is a key function of the survival instinct. But on the flip side I see no reason to fear death because I trust a greater system is at work and we’re on a continuum that exceeds our brain’s capacity for understanding.

    In other words, I agree with the general thesis that consciousness is eternal but I suspect not in the narcissistic way you might be hoping. I’m reminded of that Irene Cara song “Fame! I wanna live forever…” (She’s still alive but her career died about 3 years later.)

  68. deadlock Says:

    I lean towards a world view that excludes anything metaphysical since as soon as it interacts with the physical, it also part of the physical. But I too think consciousness cannot be reduced to mere complex computation and therefore does not “emerge”. I think our brains are evolved “consciousness processors” but they act more like antenna than generator. Obviously, low-level bodily functions are controlled by something computer-like. My world view evolved over the course of my lifetime and at the moment I too think consciousness is a fundamental property of matter or represents even lower level than what we call matter.

  69. jimboslash Says:

    If we all exist in the space time continuem then it s logical to say that conciousness is eternal because it will always exist in its place along said continuem.

  70. antihacker101 Says:

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    http://www.deepandcrazy.com

  71. Patu Says:

    Does something besides consiousness and right now even exist?

    1. Everything we perceive and sense is forwarded to our alleged “brain” as electromagnetic signals, signals that could also be falsified.
    2. All our memories are stored in our alleged “brain” as electromagnetic signals, which could be falsified.
    3. In our sleep we perceive a reality, which we do not believe to be true when we are awake, but in our dreams it is the only reality we know of.
    4. Is the colour red as “I” see it, the same colour what the others are seeing? As far as “I” know, their colour red could resemble the colour “I” see as yellow.

    Considering the above, there is very little that this consiousness can be sure of… Matter, physics, universe, time, everything… Could be just a figment of the imagination of this consiousness, which it has created for it’s own amusement for the time being.

    The only sure thing is, that there is something pondering about the reality of existence, and that something is whatever could be considered “me”.

    As this “me” cannot even be sure of the existence of the physical body it alledgedly occupies, why should it be affected by the demise of that body?

    This leads to interesting, although somewhat scary idea…

    If this world and everything in it, is just something the consiousness has made up. Jumping to other times, worlds, dimensions… Would just need one thought, but thinking that thought is for the moment beyond “my” bravery.

  72. Ahmed Hegazy Says:

    Great article, definitely not an old man up there!
    it takes more than a man to make us (conscious beings ) experience what some people are convinced that it is called (an illusion).

  73. Preston Ashworth Says:

    It may have been covered in another comment, but it would appear that the author insists that the only two possibilities regarding consciousness are a monist physical reality, or a dualist reality that separates mind from the physical. I find it only fair to mention that there is a third possibility, which is known by philosophers as an idealist monist reality.

    In the idealist monist reality, consciousness is posited as the primary quality of reality. Physical monism states that consciousness exists in the physical universe, where idealist monism states that the physical universe exists in consciousness. Oddly enough, there are both mathematical and physics-based indications that monist idealism is likely the proper foundation to approach our assumptions of reality.

    In material realism, which posits consciousness as an epiphenomenon of material interations, the human mind can be treated as a highly sophisticated classical computer. All of the states of mind depend on the changing brain states much the way the software of a machine depends on the changing physical states of the computer system. What this means ultimately is that human consciousness can be reduced down to the processing of inputs to outputs controlled by a complex algorithm. There is a serious problem with this model. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem offers a hard mathematical proof that there is no fully contained self-referential system (including mathematics). What this means is that for any system you can draw a circle around (logically), you will have to refer to something outside of that system to fully explain what is in the system. A consequence of this is that you can never mathematically derive an algorithm that is capable of discovering mathematical truths. Never. Yet human consciousness and the human mind are capable of discovering mathematical truths. This makes the description of the human mind as a highly sophisticated classical computer paradoxical because it would require an algorithm capable of discovering mathematical truths and that is proven not to exist.

    In physics, you arrive at the fundamental truth of a phenomenon when you can describe it in mathematical terms. The relation between matter and energy, the relation between a function and its anti-derivative and how this relates to integration functions (this realization of Newton and Liebniz underpinned Newtonian physics), the quantized nature of the release of energy from an excited atomic system, or the dual wave/particle properties of matter and energy all find their ultimate reality in mathematics. You absolutely can not discount the necessity of mathematics in describing physical phenomena in physics. Yet we are faced with the conundrum that mathematics can not be used to ultimately explain all of mathematics (and therefore reality). It is an incomplete system that only the human mind seems to be able to probe, as no mathematical technique is capable of discovering mathematical truths of itself. Furthermore, physics guarantees the inseparability of the observed from the observer, which would seem to cast consciousness as a fundamental quality to existence, for without it as a primary quality there can be no observation, which creates a host of paradoxes.

    It is good logic to discard both physicalism and Cartesian dualism as models of reality because both suffer from well-known irreconcilable paradoxes. If indeed consciousness is primary, it is not fundamentally dependent on physical states for its existence. This does not, however, guarantee that the mind enjoys the same lack of dependence on physical states. It should be pointed out that the mind and consciousness are not synonymous. The mind is a looping narrative of habits and thoughts (most are dreadfully repetitive) that exists in the field of consciousness. You know this to be true often upon first waking, perhaps especially the first day after something terrible has happened in your life: for a moment, you are simply awake, and your identity and its associated woes hasn’t come crashing back into the field of consciousness.It is a blissful moment of non-self devoid of suffering. Then the thoughts begin their merciless parade through the field and we are fully “ourselves” again.

    Practitioners of meditation, and some hallucinatory drug users have first-hand experience of the silent space between thoughts. A quick thought experiment (I don’t mean to make a pun here) can verify what is being said above. You can direct your attention to what is going on in your mind. You can notice what you are thinking about. Conversely, you can decide to focus your attention on an activity (like breathing), paying attention to the sensations of breathing. A practitioner of meditation simply notices when their attention has gone to the objects of the mind that are arising in the field of consciousness. You know first-hand that inside of your mind is an experiencer of the mind, a silent witness. You get to know the truth of that silent witness during those blessed gaps between thoughts, which many of us live whole lives and never experience. You can experience one now: simply wait for your next thought to pop into your head. There should be a brief delay.

    This differentiation between your mind and consciousness is important, because your identity is a by-product of your habits of thought, which is to say your mind. What you are fundamentally, however, is the experiencing consciousness of the content of the mind. That quality is not dependent on any physical state; rather physical states are dependent on that quality. This is what persists after death. The mind (and its associated identity) is just a collection of habits and memories that all borrow their reality from the present moment, the only point in time that is inherently real, and also (not coincidentally) inseparable from the silent witness.

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