Reply To: Entertaining doubts about rebirth

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Jared K. Jones

Hello again!

Here are a couple of excerpts from my own investigations. See the full document attached my above reply.

The Hard Problem: A Phenomenological Inquiry

According to theories of classical physics:

“the world of matter is built out of microscopic entities whose behaviours are fixed by interaction with their immediate neighbours. Nothing needs exist except what can be deduced, by using only the precepts of classical physical theory, from the existence of these microscopic building blocks. But the defining characteristic of consciousness, namely its experiential quality, is not deducible from these elements of classical physical theory, and that is all that classical physical theory entails.”

The question is how do protons, electrons, and neutrons – hard physical things – which have no internal, personal experiences, give rise to mental images and qualia which are internal, personal experiences? Mental images appear to share no properties in common with the neurological activity to which they, generally, reliably correlate. My favorite way to demonstrate the Hard Problem is as follows. Take a moment to do this mental experiment. Visualize an apple in front of you.

Red apple.
Brown stem.
Green leaf.

If you do not like apples, then choose your favorite fruit and use that instead. Take a few moments to really observe this apple in your mind. After about 30 seconds, when it’s relatively clear in your mind, continue to the next experiment.

Now, take some time to inspect this apple. If you reach out and touch the apple mentally, it is firm. If you flick it, it makes a sound. When you smell it, it has a smell. Take a bite mentally, and it has a taste. Take a moment to perform these actions with your visualized apple before continuing.

Now, physically, where is this apple located?

The image itself cannot be located anywhere in the physical universe. It has no location. You might be thinking, ‘You’re wrong. That apple is in your head.’

Certainly, we can hook you up to an fMRI, MEG, or EEG to measure the movement of glucose or electrons in your head and then map the mental apple-image to this movement of particles. These two things correlate in terms of time. However, the apple itself – that image – is not made of electrons, neutrons, protons, and so forth. If we were performing brain surgery on a person, there would be no virtual image of an apple inside their skull.

If you still object to this, then take me to a lab and show me the protons, electrons, and neurons making up a red apple, with a brown stem, and a green leaf. If that image itself were physical, then this apple in front of you – the one which you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell – would have various physical properties:

Relative location in space.
Relative extension in space.
Relative Mass.
Relative Velocity.
Relative Energy.
Interactive capability with other physical objects extended in space.
A causal chain of events in physical reality which brought it into being: an apple tree, an apple seed, a previous apple, and so forth.

So, where is this apple located in physical space?

Where does it extend?

How much does that apple-image weigh?

What is its velocity?

What other object or objects is it moving relative to?

What is its total relative energy?

What photons are bouncing off this apple and lighting it up?

Where are those photons coming from?

What eye are those photons being absorbed into?

Where does it go when it ceases to exist?

Finally, if you were going to book a plane to the orchard where a progressive causal chain of physical events gives rise to this apple – to what location would book that flight?

The apple-image in your mind is not locatable anywhere in the physical universe, has no mass, no velocity, and no energy. It is not lit up by photons and not seen through the absorption of light in an eye organ. It is not heard through the compression of air being absorbed by an ear organ, etc, and yet this apple image can be seen, smelled, tasted, heard, and touched. It did not require a concordant set of previous, physical causes and conditions (like an orchard), in order to arise. Its parts not go anywhere else when it ceases, as would the parts (atoms and subatomic particles) of a physical apple.

Now say “apple” in your mind. Take a moment and say “apple” mentally for 10 seconds.

Now, which lungs did you fill up with air?

What air did those lungs breathe in?

Which vocal chords, throat, tongue, teeth, and lips did you use to vocalize the sound?

What air carried the vibrations or compressions of that sound, and which eardrum detected those vibrations or compressions of sound?

This internal world we experience is not composed of the same things as the physical universe, nor does it obey the same laws and rules. So, you have to ignore at least 50% of your direct personal experience to believe that mind and mental images are composed of physical particles. Therefore, the position that the physical world is all that exists runs contrary to direct observable evidence. This remains one of the most enduring and directly accessible methods for all people to conclude that the mind is non-physical. Now, let us handle some objections.