The redefining of what we are
The redefining of what we are
Usually we define ourselves as bodies that are conscious. I am, you are, we are conscious bodies. The concepts of consciousness and bodies are tied together in the definition of ourselves. Some philosophers have defined what we are more on the side of consciousness and others more one the side of the physical bodies. Scientifically it seems that we need physical bodies to produce consciousness and consciousness is necessary to our existence Even if you are dead there has to be a conscious person to connect you to a body. There is no you with out consciousness, and no consciousness with out something that produces it. Does a consciousness that you experience have to be connected to the consciousness about a specific body? We can imagine an experience machine that changes the sensual input to the brain where your reality is different, and one aspect of this different reality is having a different (appearing) body. The appearance of the body does not seem to be a necessary part of you. Is there any necessary part or aspect of the body that has to exist for you to be you? Science has found that if we change the functioning of the brain enough then the consciousness that it produces is different. The brain is in fact always changing consequently so is the consciousness that a person experiences. It appears that consciousness is tied to the functioning of the brain and the functioning is tied to the structure of the brain and how the external world is effecting the functioning and structure through the senses and the external physical environment.
Are we the structure and functioning of the body? Without the correct structure and functioning in the body no consciousness is produced. With out being conscious is there any existence for us (you). That depends on how you define yourself. Are you the body or are you the consciousness that the body produces?
The redefining of what we are is the realization that we are a number of different consciousnesses that can be produced by a number of different bodies. What you are is a large grouping of different potential structures and functionings that when produced in different types of material structures (bodies) produces a consciousness that you experience or actually is version of you. What you are experience now is just a small part of what you will experience in life. And what you experience in life is just a small part of what you can experience in the totality of space and time. There is enough difference in consciousness and structure and functioning of physical bodies that not every consciousness that will exist you will experience.
It is a major paradigm shift in thinking about what we are to define ourselves in terms of the functioning of matter rather than as a specific body or a specific consciousness. This shift is thinking simplifies the scientific understanding of what we are, by making what we are much more complex. It is like the confusion of alchemy into the understanding, predictive ability, and usefulness of chemistry. The consequence of this theory is not a desire fulfilled for life after death or immortality like a soul theory is, it just becomes as aspect of ourselves that we can scientifically deal with for all of conscious beings benefit.
The positive aspect of this scientific theory ranges far and wide. The potential for life after death and immortality is just the beginning. As many thinkers have realized immortality is a bad thing if the unending life you lead is awful, miserable, painful, boring etc., and you have no control over this unending life. This scientific theory allows for conscious control over which consciousness are produced. There are many different versions of consciousness that when they are produced will not be pleasant. But what you do in your life can effect which of these conscious versions of you are actually produced.
Since this theory bases consciousness on the structure and functioning of the body, closely duplicating the same structure and functioning will duplicate the same consciousness as a result there can be many different conscious versions of you existing at the same time in different bodies. consequently if you do thing that makes others lives more difficult or unpleasant now you may well be producing less desirable versions of yourself. And if you make the world a worse place to live now for future generations you may be making future versions of yourself have a worse life. For selfish reasons you can and should do good things. You also have an obligation to the other versions of your self to take care of your self and have as good of a life as possible under the circumstances that you have in your current life. This is not very different form the sacrifice and pleasure that occur in your every day life. You sacrifice your consciousness now (by doing unpleasant tasks or work) so that letter you can have greater enjoyment. You believe that you are more than the consciousness you experience this minute.
There are many things that have happened to ourselves in the past that we do not remember. If you could, would you sacrifice your past self to make your present life better? How about sacrificing your future to make your current life better? People do suffer for what they have done to themselves in the past. For instance, like smoking or carelessness that causes injury and pain and suffering later to the body. There is the analogy to heaven and hell, but you will suffer as a material body not an immaterial soul in the sense that what you do can make other versions of yourself suffer more or less by way of your and their personal actions.
We not only care about ourselves and versions of ourselves, we care about our loved ones and versions of them. Then there are the loved ones of versions of ourselves. There are many good scientific reasons to lead a good life for ourselves for versions of ourselves for loved ones and version of loved one. We have a tendency to take sides in a conflict but very likely there will be versions of ourselves or versions of our loved one on the other side of the conflict.