Response to the Quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy the article "after life"

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Response to the Quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy the article "after life" at the web site http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/afterlife/

Lynne Rudder Baker and Kevin Corcoran solutions are on the right track but are lacking a more complete understanding of the problems involved in a materialist theory of an after life, that is provided in the web site awaretheory and will be quickly covered here. The relevant part of the quote is put in bold type. The two concepts that they are missing are the ixperiencitness concept and the concept of structure and functioning. Identical and close approximate structure and functioning can tie together the same ixperiencitness together between many different material bodies and consciousnesses with out a need for a soul, supernatural, or other dualistic type concept. What is the "I" in the ixperiencitness? It is all of the structures and functionings of matter that when created produces the same general type of intuitive experiencing of consciousness as you are having now while reading this sentence. This leads not to a singular future, present, or past, but the potential for multiple versions of you experiencing different consciousnesses at the same time. The random events of nature, the random or deliberate efforts of conscious beings, including gods, with varing degrees of abilities, could create the desired structures and functionings to produce the desired consciousnesses and ixperiencitnesses. There is an informative way of deciding identity. There is no need for the concept of transfer of self from one body to the next. There is no need for a brute force solution, or a tautology in the solution. The problems that these thinkers are shown to have with their ideas about life after death do not apply to the ideas in awaretheory.

The manuscript issue that Van Inwagen uses deal with a material object and the duplication of this material object. The duplicate manuscript is not the original manuscript, and a duplicate person is not the original person. This is not the issue, the issue is if the duplicate person produces the same consciousness that the original does? And more specifically does the duplicate have the same ixperiencitness? Two different objects can have the same color, shape, or size, etc. Why can't consciousness and ixperiencitness be properties that a body has or produces. The structure and functioning of the same body can be changed to the point that the behavior of this person gives very strong evidence that the same person is producing the consciousness and ixperiencitness of someone or anyone else. So the same body could produce the consciousness and ixperiencitness of anyone else simply by changing the structure and functioning of the body. It is not the body that is important in understanding and creating cases of life after death and immortality it is the structure and functioning of the body that is important. The structure and functioning of the matter in a body or object is more like the property of an object than the object itself. Two different objects can have the same property of being the same color, such as blue, or the same shape, size, weight, chemical make up, orientation etc.

The argument that a cidentireplica is not the same person as its original consequently, it can not be a case of survival for the original loses its importance when what is needed for conscious existence (ixperiencitness) is a property of the body (its structure and functioning) and not the body itself.


Quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy the article "after life":

3. Objections to the Possibility of Survival — Materialism

What are the prospects for survival on a materialistic view of persons? Materialists, of course, will not affirm immortality of the soul, but they have available an arguably preferable alternative in the form of bodily resurrection. Resurrection is in fact the standard view of the afterlife in all of the major theistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. To be sure, there is no obvious, inherent incompatibility between the belief in an immaterial soul and the doctrine of bodily resurrection; in fact this combination has been the standard view in theology. But more recently a conflict has been discovered, or perhaps invented, between the views (Cullman 1955), and in any case those who are committed to materialism on the mind-body issue need to have their resurrection neat, uncontaminated by the suspect belief in immaterial souls.

The central logical problem for materialist versions of the resurrection is personal identity. On dualist assumptions, personal identity is preserved by the persistence of the soul between death and resurrection. But for materialism, nothing bridges the spatio-temporal gap between the body that perishes and the resurrection body; how then can the “resurrected” person be identical with the person who died? Considerable ingenuity has been expended in the search for an answer to this question.

Without doubt, the most popular materialist option here is the “re-creation” theory, according to which, at some time after a person's death, God re-creates the person by creating a body with the identical characteristics of the body that perished (Hick 1983, pp. 125–26). (Immediately thereafter God may proceed to improve the body in certain respects, such as correcting the disease or injury that led to death in the first place.) The problem is that this move does not seem to secure the necessity of the identity relation — and “identity” that is merely contingent is not identity at all. If God could create one body that is exactly similar to the body that died, why not two or more? It is not a satisfactory answer to this to say that God, being good, would not (and perhaps could not) do such a thing. On the view in question, what is necessary for resurrection is merely that material particles be arranged in the correct fashion, and it is hardly a necessary truth that only God could do this. (Perhaps a really smart rogue angel could pull it off!) Nor is it feasible to guarantee uniqueness by requiring that the identical particles present in the dead body make up the resurrection body. On the one hand, the body has no doubt shed, during its life, enough particles to make several bodies, and it is hardly credible that the replacement of one of the atoms present at the time of death with an atom shed by the body a few seconds before death would mean we have a different body (assuming other requirements to be satisfied). If, on the other hand, only particles from the body at the time of death may be used, there are the long-recognized problems about the availability of some of these particles, which within a few years may have made their ways into a large number of other human bodies. In any case there is a hard-to-quell intuition that reassembly, no matter how expertly completed, would at best produce a replica rather than the identical body that perished. Peter van Inwagen offers a compelling example:

Suppose a certain monastery claims to have in its possession a manuscript written in St. Augustine's own hand. And suppose the monks of this monastery further claim that this manuscript was burned by Arians in the year 457. It would immediately occur to me to ask how this manuscript, the one I can touch, could be the very manuscript that was burned in 457. Suppose their answer to this question is that God miraculously recreated Augustine's manuscript in 458. I should respond to this answer as follows: the deed it describes seems quite impossible, even as an accomplishment of omnipotence. God certainly might have created a perfect duplicate of the original manuscript, but it would not be that one; its earliest moment of existence would have been after Augustine's death; it would never have known the impress of his hand; it would not have been a part of the furniture of the world when he was alive; and so on. Now suppose our monks were to reply by simply asserting that the manuscript now in their possession did know the impress of Augustine's hand; that it was a part of the furniture of the world when the Saint was alive; that when God recreated or restored it, He (as an indispensable component of accomplishing this task) saw to it that the object He produced had all these properties. I confess I should not know what to make of this. I should have to tell the monks that I did not see how what they believed could possibly be true (van Inwagen 1978, pp. 242–43). Given these difficulties with the re-creation view, attempts have been made to find other ways of accounting for resurrection in materialist terms. One of the more interesting of these is Lynne Rudder Baker's invocation of a constitution view of persons (Baker 2000, 2001, 2005). On this view persons are not identical with, but are constituted by, their bodies. (She discusses the constitution relation at considerable length; the details of this are not relevant here.) What is distinctive of persons is a “first-person perspective,” roughly, the capacity to think of oneself as oneself. This ability, which humans possess but other animals seem to lack, is an essential component of moral responsibility as well as of our ability to plan for the future and to perform many other distinctively personal activities and functions.

According to Baker, the constitution view opens the way for a doctrine of resurrection that avoids the difficulties of the re-creation theory. Since persons are not identical with their bodies, it need not be maintained that the resurrected body is the same identical body as the body that died. What is required, however, is that the first-person perspective of the resurrected body be the same: “if a person's first-person perspective were extinguished, the person would go out of existence” (2005, p. 385). So the first-person perspective must somehow be transferred from the original body to the resurrection body: “person P1 at t1 is the same person as person P2 at t2 if and only if P1 and P2 have the same first-person perspective” (2000, p. 132). Baker holds that there is indeed a fact of the matter as to whether a given future person has the same first-person perspective as I now have, though there is no “informative” way of specifying criteria of identity between the two.

It can be argued, however, that this criterion is not merely uninformative but is actually vacuous. To have a first-person perspective is to have the capacity to perform certain intentional acts of thinking and speaking. Such acts can in principle be qualitatively identical in different thinkers and speakers; what individuates them is the person who thinks or speaks. Which is to say: intentional acts derive their identity from the person performing them. But if this is true of the acts themselves it is also true of the first-person perspectives, which are nothing but the capacities of various persons to perform such acts. So to say that P1 and P2 have the same first-person perspective is just to say that P1 and P2 are the same person, and the criterion reduces to a tautology. We have not been given any help at all in understanding how a person, with her first-person perspective, can occupy first one body and then another.

Another proposal is offered by Kevin Corcoran (Corcoran 2005). Corcoran, like Baker, is a constitution theorist, but unlike Baker he does not believe persons can be transferred from one body to another. So the resurrection body does need to be identical with the body that died, and Corcoran has several different suggestions about how this might be possible. The one to be noted here, however, is what might be termed a “brute force” solution: “If God causes that body to exist once, why could God not cause it to exist a second time? … But what makes the first stage of the postgap body a different stage of the same body that perished is just that God makes it so” (p. 172). This comes extremely close to making identity over time a matter of convention – divine convention, to be sure, but convention all the same. (It is reminiscent of Jonathan Edwards' view that we are justly punished for Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden because God has decreed that the segment of Adam's life including the sin is a segment of our own lives also.)

I have left until last van Inwagen's own proposal for a materialist resurrection. For in spite of his criticisms of the common view, van Inwagen is himself a Christian and a believer in the resurrection. His proposal is stated as follows:

Perhaps at the moment of each man's death, God removes his corpse and replaces it with a simulacrum which is what is burned or rots. Or perhaps God is not quite so wholesale as this: perhaps He removes for “safekeeping” only the “core person” — the brain and central nervous system — or even some special part of it. These are details (van Inwagen 1978, pp. 245–46). Continuity is maintained, then, through the preservation of the body (or crucial body-part, such as the brain), and when the time comes for resurrection to occur, God restores life to the body in question and one's resurrected life can begin. In fairness, it should be pointed out that van Inwagen originally stated this proposal only in order to demonstrate the logical possibility of a materialist resurrection. In this he may well have succeeded. But as a proposal which is supposed to represent the actual way in which God enables humans to live again, the account has very little to recommend it. (In this view, God assumes the role of contemporary practitioners of cryonics, preserving the dead body until such time as it is revived and restored to health. But this is bad news for the actual practitioners, since the “bodies” they are preserving are mere simulacra and presumably incapable of being revived, even if all the technology functions flawlessly!) Furthermore, the feature of the account that makes it unacceptable — that God “spirits away” the crucial part of the person's body, leaving behind a simulacrum — is essential to the view's success in depicting a possible way of resurrection. More recently, van Inwagen admits that his story “probably isn't true” (2006, p. 9 — see Other Internet Resources); nevertheless, he insists that “the materialist who believes in the general resurrection is, so to speak, stuck with saying that there must be some sort of physical continuity between the person who dies in the present age of the world and the person who is raised on the day of resurrection” (p. 13). He further says, “I am now inclined to think that there are almost certainly other ways in which an omnipotent and omniscient being could accomplish the resurrection of the dead than the way that was described in the story I told, ways I am unable even to form an idea of because I lack the conceptual resources to do so” (p. 8). This entails that if we reject van Inwagen's story as implausible, other ways in which resurrection could be accomplished are at present inconceivable to us. It would seem that this offers at best minimal comfort to materialists who would like to believe in the resurrection!

It has not been shown conclusively that an identity-preserving materialist resurrection is impossible, but the difficulties, as outlined above, are formidable (Hasker 1999, pp. 211–31). Proponents of an afterlife, it seems, would be better served if they are able to espouse some variety of mind-body dualism. This entry cannot undertake an assessment of the comparative merits of dualism and materialism. It is worth noting, however, that recent philosophy has seen an increased recognition in some quarters of the difficulties resulting from materialist views, and a corresponding interest in different (not necessarily Cartesian) varieties of dualism. See Koons & Bealer (eds.) 2010, and Batthyani & Elitzur (eds.) 2009.