Friday, 7 October 2016

There are 2 possibilities

There's 2 possibilities:

a) This is the only life there is. When we die we simply cease to exist. Our lives and the Universe are, in a sense, ultimately absurd. In that case nothing we do ultimately matters. How much money we accumulate and our social status are transitory and ultimately unfulfilling, and in the end are to no avail since we all end up in the same boat -- namely eternal non-existence. I suggest instead we just live our lives, have a laugh, have a few drinks, be kind to others, but most importantly of all not to take life too seriously.

b) Or there is a "life after death", and perhaps an ultimate purpose to our existence and to all things. But if we continue to exist after death, why do we think what we achieve in this life is so terribly important? If there is some ultimate purpose to life, we don't know what it is, but presumably it will have nothing to do with how much money we accumulate and our social status. I suggest instead we just live our lives, have a laugh, have a few drinks, be kind to others, but most importantly of all not to take life too seriously.

9 comments:

  1. Hello Ian! This is totally random (hopefully you'll receive this post) but I'm a fan (I agree with much of what you say regarding metaphysics & I discovered you via Bernardo Kastrup). I have a few quick questions I'd like to ask you (regarding metaphysics essentially) if you have the time to answer. Anyway could I email you perhaps? My name is James btw, sorry if this weird. I've never posted on a blogspot site before.

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    1. Hi, I'm not keen on emailing any answers to any questions. I prefer that other people can read my thoughts. Yeah you can ask me questions on here, or facebook or wherever though.

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    2. No sweat. Ok so basically regarding metaphysics/philosophy of mind, did you ever consider pursuing a degree in philosophy or cognitive science? I'm sure you already have a career but (assuming this is something you've been interested in for quite a while) I was just wondering if you've ever thought about this as a career (if it's even viable).

      I myself already have an BS degree & a career going. However I've been considering if getting a graduate degree in philosophy/cognitive science would be wise (either for fun or as a potential future career). I'm very interested in "immaterialist" metaphysics & would like to become more knowledgeable about it (as well as debate the rabid physicalists). I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on this since you're clearly very knowledgeable about this subject. I'm not sure how much credentials actually play in the study of consciousness. I know Bernardo Kastrup doesn't hold a philosophy/cog science degree (he does the philosophy stuff for fun & holds a technology profession) & I don't plan on changing careers anytime soon, I'd just like to know if from your understanding, if this is a big deal in regards to consciousness studies.

      My 2nd question is, what's your opinion on Out of body experiences & psychedelics? Have you ever tried to induce an OBE or take a psychedelic? From my research, I believe OBEs & psychedelics are really strong methods for have mystical experiences & confirming to oneself that you're not your physical body. I view psychedelics as training wheels though, I've never had an OBE but it seems they are a little more reassuring than psychedelics since one could say the mystical experience on a psychedelic is just an "hallucination", whereas with an OBE, you induce it yourself without any external aids.

      I'd just like to get your opinion on the above topics. Thanks for your time.

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    3. Well, I have done a degree in the "History of Ideas". Most of the various credit areas I chose were in philosophy -- the history and philosophy of science, science and religion, the mind-body problem, the empiricists, the 17th Century a changing world picture. I say most because I also studied people like Newton and the progress of his thoughts and that's kinda more like science. Not that there's a strict demarcation separating science from metaphysics, especially back then.

      I have never really been much interested in education though. I did the degree as a mature student. Just to make friends really etc. And because I was interested in the subject even though not so much formal education. I didn't do it with a career in mind anyway.

      You don't have to do a degree to become knowledgeable about all this stuff. Read books, read the net, a variety of articles. Read my blog; my other one, not this random musings one. Even when I did my degree I hardly attended any lectures or classes. I used to prefer sitting in the students union bar drinking. What I've always done is read other peoples' ideas, and do a lot of thinking for myself.

      I started doing a Ph.D as well on George Berkeley, It was on how Berkeley did and should have regarded the ontological status of the microscopic realm. I knew what I was going to write, but couldn't be pestered with it. I don't like having to work to deadlines etc. Have a short blog entry on him here http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/a-very-brief-introduction-to-subjective.html

      My line of work has absolutely nothing to do with philosophy. I write these blog entries in my spare time. I'd like to write many more, but don't have the time. Would be great if people paid me for writing philosophical stuff! I doubt that'll ever happen. Thinking of writing a book basically comprising of my essays in my other blog but expanded. But scarcely anyone would buy it.

      Well, that's your first question, I don't think I'm the ideal person to ask! Will answer your other question in another post. Maybe not today though.

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    4. I approach the issue of whether there's a "life after death" mainly from a philosophical perspective. My main blog doesn't discuss in detail the evidence for an afterlife anywhere because I don't feel I have sufficient knowledge.

      The thing is even those who believe in an afterlife and psi think that materialism is astonishingly successful. They think it explains the world, and the only reason we have to doubt it is the apparent existence of psi and the evidence for an afterlife. No doubt they also buy into this notion that psi and an afterlife are "extraordinary claims".

      But, as people will know if they've read certain essays in my other blog, I think this notion that materialism is obviously correct to be utter nonsense. Indeed, on the contrary, it's obviously false, although in saying that I'm certainly not necessarily saying that the brain doesn't somehow generate consciousness, or at least that the brain might be necessary for the existence of consciousness (but of course the evidence for an afterlife weighs against this).

      And this is the main problem. This idea that some flavour of materialism *must be* correct, and that therefore any evidence suggesting that consciousness survives or has certain abilities, is an extraordinary claim. And it's not just psi that would be an "extraordinary" ability of consciousness, but even the notion that consciousness per se has a causal impact on the world at all!

      In a sense it doesn't matter how compelling the evidence for an afterlife might be. Whilst people are convinced that some flavour of materialism must be correct, they won't pay much attention to the evidence. They will assume it can be explained away somehow or other. If they have any doubts in this regard, the Net is flooded with skeptic articles pooh-poohing the evidence. They'll just assume these articles tell it as it is since they serve to reinforce their existing beliefs. So I think the underlying philosophical issues are more important and that's what I concentrate on. However, once I feel I have sufficient knowledge, I'll be happy to write about the evidence too.

      OK, so having said all that, what is my opinion on "Out of body experiences" & psychedelics? First of all I should say I've never had an OBE or NDE, or taken any psychedelics, or ever had any mystical experiences, or ever had any psi experiences. Well, a few cases of synchronicity, and I think I might have had a fair few psi experiences as a young child, but nothing really since. Having said that I suppose I would regard these experiences as a glimpse of other realities, but nevertheless shaped by our expectations and underlying psyche. In fact a bit like our vision in this physical reality! (see a blog entry of mine http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/are-perceptual-illusions-always.html)

      When you say 'the mystical experience on a psychedelic is just an "hallucination"', do you mean that the experience is wholly one generated by the brain; that there is no input from any external reality? If so why do you think that?

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    5. Hey Ian, have you gotten the chance to read my post below (on October 12th)? I'd really like your opinion on that stuff I mentioned (regarding the psychedelic experience & entheogens overall). I'm sure you're pretty busy of course with your priorities, I just wanted to continue this discussion.

      Regarding materialism/physicalism, yeah I'd agree with you in the fact that people who do believe in the spiritual realm & non-material experiences (afterlife, psi, OBEs & NDEs) do to some extent believe in some flavor of physicalism. I know Stuart Hameroff, who's subscribes to consciousness being immaterial, said that he believes in the materiality of the universe (he called himself a neutral monist akin to Bertrand Russell). He talks about it in this video @ the 20:25 mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn5Alpq0YLM So yeah like you said even many immaterialists believe in a material world (I'd say many religious people do as well).

      I overall haven't studied consciousness & metaphysics as much as you have. I hope to one of these days reach the level of your knowledge & understand of all this (both from a philosophical level as well as from an evidence standpoint as well).

      I hope you respond to this post whenever you have the chance, I'm a big fan of yours & admire your work! :)

      Btw, is it worth it to read Berkeley's work on Idealism? I tried reading Descartes Discourse on Method & Dualist work but it bored me to tears (too many metaphors & not enough talk about the main idea, not straight & to the point like Bernardo Kastrup's Why Materialism is Baloney). If Berkeley's work on Idealism isn't straight & to the point than I'll pass.

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    6. Regarding psychedelic experiences, I doubt they are wholly brain-based hallucinations. Those that think they are hallucinations will generally tend to think that it's very obvious that the brain creates consciousness. But as I've said before I've never taken any psychedelics, nor read much on them. So I'm not really the person to ask. Do you have any interesting links regarding psychedelics for me to learn more? And more generally are there any other good blogs or websites like Bernardo's and . er . mine . .that you would recommend? I mean covering stuff from the mind/body problem to reincarnation etc?

      Have you asked Bernardo about psychedelics? He's the ideal person to ask.

      Berkeley's the principles and dialogues are relatively easy reading for an ancient book! Well, published in 1710 and 1713 respectively if I remember. I suppose if you wanted to really understand his subjective idealism then you would first of all read those, then read criticisms (and defences) of his position. If you are interested!

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    7. Hey Ian. Sorry for the late response. I agree with you that the psychedelic experience isn't entirely brain-based hallucinations. I haven't taken any psychedelics either (outside of cannabis). I read "The Doors of Perception" by Aldous Huxley. It's a good book, however he talks too much about paintings & rambles a lot (he did mention how the brain & nervous system are filters for "Mind At Large" & how when you take mescaline, you're aware of everything that's occurring in the universe & remember everything you've experienced). I haven't read either of these books yet, however these two psychedelic books are on my radar: Entheogens & the Future of Religion: https://www.amazon.com/Entheogens-Future-Religion-Robert-Forte/dp/1594774382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477230504&sr=8-1&keywords=entheogens+and+the+future+of+religion

      Psychedelic Healing https://www.amazon.com/Psychedelic-Healing-Entheogens-Psychotherapy-Development/dp/1594772509/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1594772509&pd_rd_r=2VX4M0N0KB0NVSDT28FG&pd_rd_w=GQ48E&pd_rd_wg=xMizJ&psc=1&refRID=2VX4M0N0KB0NVSDT28FG

      I'd also recommend the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule. There's a book & a documentary on it. Here's a link to the documentary on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtT6Xkk-kzk

      Here's an interesting article from Bernardo himself regarding psychedelics: http://realitysandwich.com/320716/what-neuroimaging-of-the-psychedelic-state-tells-us-about-the-mind-body-problem/

      As far as other websites/blogs like yours or Bernardo's, I don't know of any others of the top of my head outside of Reality Sandwich.

      Funny, I actually asked Bernardo's forum regarding psychedelics & shamanic institutes potentially replacing religion, unfortunately I had some narrow-minded troll like poster only comment & going back & forth with me basically saying psychedelics are useless & because Africa has shamans who perform very evil & sickening things, shamanism must be bad. I also mentioned OBEs but the poster ignored them :P

      I suppose I'll get around to reading Berkeley's work. I find most old philosophy (i.e. the 18th century & before) to be very dry & not to the point unfortunately. I may still give it a try regardless though :)

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  2. Thanks for the responses, I sincerely appreciate it. I'm pressed for time at the moment & will write more, however regarding my question concerning having a degree in cog-science or philosophy, I just wanted to get your opinion on it since I wasn't sure if one needed to have a strong academic background in order to seriously discuss & debate this material.

    I was gonna mention a few books as well as neuroscientists who actually are immaterialists (like Donald Hoffman, Rudolf Tanzi, Mario Beauregard, Marjorie Woollacut, Edward F. Kelly, etc.) but since you mentioned you're not too knowledgable regarding the evidence for immaterialism, I'll hold off on it for now (you should check out "Irreducible Mind" by Ed F. Kelly, published back in 2008 I believe & shows tons of evidence apparently for consciousness being immaterial.

    Regarding the psychedelic experience being just an "hallucination" I don't believe that to be true, however that is what the hardcore physicalists/materialists would say. Dennis Mckenna (Terence Mckenna's brother) mentioned that if the psychedelic experience was just a hallucination, than why do so many people report similar experiences (at least on DMT/ayahuasca, shrooms, mescaline, etc.) & I agree with him despite not having taken any psychedelics outside of cannabis.

    I just finished reading Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" & Huxley mentions how the brain & nervous system are essentially filters for "Mind at large" & when someone takes mescaline (or any psychedelic or has altered state of consciousness experience), they're aware of everything they've experienced & of everything that's occurring in the universe (this struck me as being the same as the brain-filter hypothesis many immaterialists are advocating.

    I gotta get going but I definitely wanna continue this conversation! I'll add more tomorrow most likely.

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