Saturday 26 January 2008

Thoughts on materialism

Here's something I worked out while at school. Why I wasn't drinking under age instead I haven't quite worked out yet :(

I will take for a moment the materialist view that our conscious existence is a fortuitous side effect of the material in our brain/bodies, and that our identity is merely the selection and order of the elements that comprise them. It follows then that death is unconsciousness, a state that will prevail until the material that forms us 'accidentally' reassembles itself (presumably using the same atoms in the same structure). A bleak outlook.

Or is it? The one thing about total unconsciousness is that any finite time passes instantly. Only infinite time will appear as finite time in this state. Two points: 1. It doesn't matter how long it takes for chance to put us back together again - for us it will be the next experience after death. 2. If that doesn't happen, our next experience will be after eternity (as this appears finite under conditions of zero time perception).

We should find that encouraging! If time is circular (as most dimensions appear to be) then your next perception after death is that as your foetus. If time is flat and infinite, then you will resurrect when your material re-assembles by accident. The probability of that happening is finite (it happened at least one to your knowledge). Anything with a finite probability will happen roughly periodically over a large enough time period. This time period may be truly enormous (perhaps 10 to then 10 to the 10 to the 1000 years).

But who cares, we won't be aware of this time passage!

So you see I am fairly confident that we are immortal. What I'm not confident of is our ability to carry over our understanding of this to the next incarnation. Its like death is a Control-Alt-Delete on your operating system. 'Any data in running programs will be lost if you proceed'.


Hurlyburly said...

Beautifuly worded post. I really like the way you have described this concept and i completely agree. It's one of the reasons why i shed any fear of death at a fairly young age. To quote the late, great and incredibly misunderstood Tupac Shakur: "My only fear of death is reincarnation." The thought of coming back to this world as one of the many idiots that we share this world with and not knowing about it scares me in so many ways.

"Hello, my name is Martin and i'm an elitest snob"

This is the main reason i find such comfort in Anthony's theory, i get to be me over and over and do you know what? I'm ok with that!

Carenza Waters said...

Thank you Hurlyburly :)

Repeated re-incarnation as yourself can seem daunting, but that kinda fits in with Christian thinking, doesn't it? Repeating all those mistakes over and over for an eternity - that is Hell! And you aren't reincarnated in the common sense (i.e. as somebody else) so it doesn't cut across Christianity on that count.

I like to think two things:

1. Your life doesn't necessarily pan out the same way each time. Introduce the quantum mechanical aspect and you may then collapse the wavefunction differently each time.

2. By listening to your Daemon, you may progress such that your lives get better and better until, ultimately, you are something closer to God. Alternatively, you can degenrate into a horrible existence. Neutral equilibrium - a state where you stagnate at one level and don't go up or down - that's kinda Pergatory, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

i agree

Hurlyburly said...

Your elaboration was also very insightful and i agree with what you said. Just feel the need to point out that this is actualy what i had already pointed out. Reincarnation in the traditional sense scares me for said reasons, where as Anthony's theory actualy gives me comfort as i actualy like who i am.

Anthony Peake said...

This is exactly how I see the metaphysics of CTF working out. As I always say in my talks when I am asked about wheter I believe in 'life after death' I make the point that I deal with physics not metaphysics. However I still have my own ideas as to what is really happening. I would like to believe that ultimate reason for CTF is as Carenza explains in her second point. Indeed I have always thought that that was the message behind the movie 'Groundhog Day'.

Christian (especially Catholic) friends have pointed out that CTF has many elements of the concept of Purgatory. I had not seen this at first but on reflection I can see their point.

Taking up HB's point I too would like to 'get it right as me' because I have no experience of being anybody else.

Carenza Waters said...

Another consideration:

If time isn't circular but flat and infinite, then it would take infinite time (following the start of the universe) to get to this moment. Therefore the universe would never reach it!

Also, if time is infinite, the probability that any moment falls in my lifetime is, say, seventy years divided by infinity, which is zero. So this moment should not fall on my lifetime. But it does.

FOr me, that proves time is circular as the only way the probability of a moment falling on my lifetime can be finite (and therefore possible) is if time is itself finite.

Discounting finite bounded time, I conclude we have finite unbounded time, i.e. the universe repeats over and over.

I should point out that, by similar modes of reasoning, I have concluded that this earth is teeming with aliens and that seemingly natural objects are ultra high tech alien artifacts. But that's another subject!

Hurlyburly said...

Plus this is what Prot tells us at the end of K-Pax so we know it's true...

Nicely explained Carenza.

Anonymous said...

re: reincarnation

The ancient wisdom inherent in the indigenous Hawaiian culture regards our life changes from death (here) to birth (somewhere else) & vice versa to be as easy as a 'change of address'.

As someone more familiar with metaphysics than physics, I have had spooky experiences with past lives (or perhaps it was deja vu)that make me comfortable that past lives are at least as real as our current perceptions of 'real life' right now.

And our current perceptions of ourselves are a tiny percentage of what's really going on...!