Dualism or idealist monism as the best model for survival after death data

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Nobody has addressed my point about the relative simplicity of explaining via dualism much of the paranormal empirical data, including veridical NDE out of body experiences, and past life memories of inhabiting different bodies, coming in to different bodies, etc., all as an immaterial mobile center of consciousness distinct from the physical. All these examples being considerably more simply explained just assuming two fundamentally different kinds of basic substances - physical and spiritual. Again, the actual data and evidence trumps theory, it seems to me.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-16, 04:29 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 2 times in total.)
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(2022-07-16, 04:25 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Nobody has addressed my point about the relative simplicity of explaining via dualism much of the paranormal empirical data, including veridical NDE out of body experiences, and past life memories of inhabiting different bodies, coming in to different bodies, etc., all as an immaterial mobile center of consciousness distinct from the physical. All these examples being considerably more simply explained just assuming two fundamentally different kinds of basic substances - physical and spiritual. Again, the actual data and evidence trumps theory, it seems to me.

I personally don't dispute that dualism explains the paranormal data, and it used to be my intuitive position. It may explain it better than mental monism. I don't know now what is my position, I'm exploring mental monism for other reasons (soteriological, and tangentially metaphysical beyond the paranormal data as such). There may be other reasons to value mental monism potentially over dualism, in other words, as in explaining consciousness and other aspects of the larger reality like Kastrup and others do.

I haven't explored personally whether dualism is a better fit than non-material monism ifor the paranormal data as such, but I'd be very interested in hearing that argument if you're willing to spell it out maybe, or point me (us) to sources that make the argument(s).
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(2022-07-16, 04:25 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Nobody has addressed my point about the relative simplicity of explaining via dualism much of the paranormal empirical data, including veridical NDE out of body experiences, and past life memories of inhabiting different bodies, coming in to different bodies, etc., all as an immaterial mobile center of consciousness distinct from the physical. All these examples being considerably more simply explained just assuming two fundamentally different kinds of basic substances - physical and spiritual. Again, the actual data and evidence trumps theory, it seems to me.

All the parapsychological evidence shows is there seems to be an additional body (or perhaps bodies) for an individual to be in possession of?

Adding in Psi, not to mention the ability of these subtle bodies to interact - however faintly or strongly - with the material suggests there is ultimately some connection between the "physical" and "spiritual".

Even the spiritual world(s?) have physical interaction, going by the varied accounts of what happens in such places. This is why some Buddhist traditions even speak of "subtle matter".

So one then has to ask if this is better explained with a single "stuff" like Mind/Spirit. Or is it better to think of it as separate substances with key points of intersection? But causal intersection is probably the key way we identify substances in the first place, so this gets tricky...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2022-07-16, 04:43 PM)Ninshub Wrote: I personally don't dispute that dualism explains the paranormal data, and it used to be my intuitive position. It may explain it better than mental monism. I don't know now what is my position, I'm exploring mental monism for other reasons (soteriological, and tangentially metaphysical beyond the paranormal data as such). There may be other reasons to value mental monism potentially over dualism, in other words, as in explaining consciousness and other aspects of the larger reality like Kastrup and others do.

I haven't explored personally whether dualism is a better fit than non-material monism ifor the paranormal data as such, but I'd be very interested in hearing that argument if you're willing to spell it out maybe, or point me (us) to sources that make the argument(s).

The following might be a start:

NDEs offer the best example of apparent evidence for dualism. Only a few NDEs contain all the features next mentioned, but many of them have several.

Often an experience of separating and partially detaching from the moribund physical body is recalled. Also, typical near death experiences include a subsequent ability to ‘see’ and recall specific detailed descriptions of the resuscitation, as verified by resuscitation staff, observed from an apparently physical location near the ceiling of the room. Sometimes some sort of thin "etheric umbilical cord" is perceived, connecting an immaterial spiritual vehicle or body and the physical body. Other features of NDEs include a subsequent experience of great movement, of passing through some sort of "tunnel" or other structure into a supernal realm of spiritual light, and being in the presence of and communicating with, spirits of deceased loved ones. This is with the feeling of being in some sort of fundamentally different place. Following these experiences, there usually is a message that "your time is not yet come" and that the experiencer has to go back to the physical body. There is then an experience of somehow moving back through a great distance into the physical body.

All this is in accordance with a dualistic model in which the human person's spirit is an immaterial center of consciousness separate and fundamentally different from the physical body, in that it can detach from it, go elsewhere in the physical world, and/or elsewhere into some sort of separate spiritual realm, and return to the physical body. With dualism there obviously must still be some means of interaction between material and spiritual in order to allow embodiment, as there must be even with idealism, even though with the latter case it would be some sort of much more complicated mechanism to manage illusions. The enumerated features of NDEs would be expected if as posited by dualism the nature of consciousness is that of being an existentially separate "thing" that in physical life inhabits and interpenetrates the physical body, in particular the brain.

In order to explain these features of NDEs via idealist monism it would be necessary to explain why this entire spectrum of experiences, all of apparent existence as a separate immaterial mobile center of consciousness, is generated somehow as a vivid and "realer than real" artificial construct of illusions, while the spirit is in reality in some sense of one substance as the physical body. Why is the system designed this way to produce such a palpably real seeming set of illusions, and who or what designed it that way? Certainly the explanation must be considerably more complicated than the dualism explanation, where what's going on is pretty much what it seems to be.
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Thank you for taking the time and effort to do that, NB, that's very much appreciated. Hopefully my answer won't be too disappointing given the thought you've put into your response.

I'm only very recently investigating idealism/monism, and as I've indicated above not for the purposes of finding out how such frameworks potentially explain paranormal data (and I fully am of the same opinion as you that in the end, such data trumps any theory). I'd have to give it much more thought, and would need to do a lot more reading on idealism, to start to elaborate and articulate a potential alternative explanation. Maybe others have and could come up with something more intelligent than I can say at this point in time. I don't know if Bernardo Kastrup, for example, has written about or addressed something equivalent to the points you raise.

I of course completely agree with everything you say about NDEs, and I like the way you emphasize all of these physical-to-spiritual realm contrasts in the processes, including the "realer than real" aspect that is so key to those experiences.

I guess a few fragments of thoughts come to mind. One is that I'm not sure if idealist monism needs to view "physical" processes as "illusions". Idealist or non-dual thinkers often refer to the dreaming analogy, where the dreamer's reality is considered real and the dreamer's self as represented in the dream is thought to be real, until the awaking state happens. From the ordinary waking reality to the NDE reality could potentially be conceived as another step up the ladder. Does this necessarily entail that all of these levels are "illusory" until you get to the more elemental, final one? (If there is such a thing!)

Sometimes also experiencers relate NDE narratives that in themselves seem to imply different progressive stages of deeper "reality" within the experience itself.

A related thought is that I don't know if an idealist monist framework could or would potentially conceive what is experienced as "physical" and what is "spiritual" as simply different layers of mental processes, or of the "patterns of nature" to use an expression of Kastrup's.

You may be right that in the end any idealist explanation would be more complicated. I grant you that at first glance this may appear to be the case. But at this point personally I haven't investigated the issue enough to have a firm opinion about that.
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(2022-07-16, 10:32 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: The following might be a start:

NDEs offer the best example of apparent evidence for dualism. Only a few NDEs contain all the features next mentioned, but many of them have several.


For me, you've succinctly described (in that post) the 'mechanics' or the framework, of what is going on. That's what the data clearly shows. There seems to be a spiritual body (etheric) as well (I think you alluded to) although it is reported less frequently than, "I was just pure consciousness". 

I saw a very interesting report from a German woman recently (not Anke Evertz although hers is also) who described that she had extraordinary beautiful long hair in her OBE after her heart stopped. (There were also veridical elements that she couldn't have seen or known about, that's why I found it interesting). 

When the experiencer reaches the end of the "tunnel", even if they previously were not aware they were in any kind of body, they are nonetheless always recognised by those that come to meet them. So they must have a recognisable personable form, surely.   

How this works (in detail) will forever remain a mystery, most likely, but I think we are reasonably entitled to accept that it does.
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(2022-07-17, 11:22 AM)tim Wrote: For me, you've succinctly described (in that post) the 'mechanics' or the framework, of what is going on. That's what the data clearly shows. There seems to be a spiritual body (etheric) as well (I think you alluded to) although it is reported less frequently than, "I was just pure consciousness". 

I saw a very interesting report from a German woman recently (not Anke Evertz although hers is also) who described that she had extraordinary beautiful long hair in her OBE after her heart stopped. (There were also veridical elements that she couldn't have seen or known about, that's why I found it interesting). 

When the experiencer reaches the end of the "tunnel", even if they previously were not aware they were in any kind of body, they are nonetheless always recognised by those that come to meet them. So they must have a recognisable personable form, surely.   

How this works (in detail) will forever remain a mystery, most likely, but I think we are reasonably entitled to accept that it does.

To me the most frustrating part is the casual dismissal without elaboration of dualism by so many idealist academic philosophers (apparently including Kastrup), generally without at all addressing the large data base of empirical evidence from veridical features of many NDEs, and the I think obvious fact that this data strongly points to some form of dualism as the most likely theory of mind. By implication these "experts" casually dismiss all the NDE empirical evidence as uselessly anecdotal (just like their reductive materialist colleagues), and ignore as if it doesn't exist and/or is invalid, the obvious principle that data trumps theory. And also, they inherently dismiss the Ockham's Razor principle of parsimony, where the explanation of this data by an Interactional Dualist model is clearly (to me at least) much simpler than the apparently much more contrived and convoluted Idealist Monist explanatory model. Making Dualism the more likely theory of mind. Not to them.

I would like to apply some of these experts' noses to the grindstone and insist on an account from them that shows that somehow an Idealist model is considerably less complicated than a Dualist one. Perhaps ultimately more subsidiary hypotheses are needed for Dualism, but how about enumerating what these are? One would of course be the mechanism producing the known interaction between Spirit and the physical (allowing embodiment). And obviously one primary substance is simpler than two, but how about some elaboration of these observations into an argument? This argument would have to somehow show that the immensely complicated illusion show mechanism required by Idealism that I alluded to is less contrived and is simpler than the subsidiary hypotheses required by Dualism.
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I know I have said this a number of times before, but it seems to me that scientific theories are always tentative, and it is always most constructive to select the simplest theory - which is Dualism in this case.

Dualism suffers from a flaw that it ultimately depends on a contradiction - wither the spirit realm is utterly separate from the physical realm, or it is not. However, science is comfortable with problems of this sort - physicists don't feel the need to pick between GR and QM even though they know that these two theories cannot both be true.

Science works well with theories that must ultimately be wrong. Chemistry in particular uses all kinds of obscure concepts, such as electronegativity, activities, etc. that obviously don't cleanly resolve into QM, but are infinitely simpler to think about.

Physics also uses obsolete theories such as Newtonian mechanics, because it is infinitely easier to think about and calculate in.

From that point of view why does everyone balk at Dualism?

David
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(2022-07-17, 03:12 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: To me the most frustrating part is the casual dismissal without elaboration of dualism by so many idealist academic philosophers (apparently including Kastrup), generally without at all addressing the large data base of empirical evidence from veridical features of many NDEs, and the I think obvious fact that this data strongly points to some form of dualism as the most likely theory of mind. By implication these "experts" casually dismiss all the NDE empirical evidence as uselessly anecdotal

I absolutely agree! It's unscientific and unacceptable to ignore the growing mountain of data that clearly points to dualism being the best fit (albeit not quite perfect). I suspect it's seen as unsophisticated, something that the peasants were happy with (they used to be, anyway, until science took it off them) 

With reference to idealism, I don't think an object only exists if you look at it. If you plant a flag on the moon, why would it not be there just because you've gone back to earth and can't observe it anymore. I think there is a material world and a spiritual world, separate but accessible to each other and you can't have one without the other, because how would you know what perfection was (the spiritual world) if you haven't already experienced the imperfect (the material world).  

How a "spirit" can enter a brain and body and drive the impulses in nerve cells, we don't know, but I sometimes wonder how an unwelcome and troublesome thought can give me stomach ache and physical pain. The thought is immaterial but the results are very material.
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(2022-07-17, 03:12 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: To me the most frustrating part is the casual dismissal without elaboration of dualism by so many idealist academic philosophers (apparently including Kastrup), generally without at all addressing the large data base of empirical evidence from veridical features of many NDEs, and the I think obvious fact that this data strongly points to some form of dualism as the most likely theory of mind.

Edward Kelly is an Idealist now though, and he's one of the people who has extensively looked at the evidence?

(IIRC the general trend at Esalen was a shift toward Idealism.)

From Kelley's afterword to Kastrup's Idea of the World ->

Quote:...large amounts of credible empirical evidence have accumulated for a variety of human mental and psychophysical capacities that resist or defy explanation in conventional physicalist terms. These ‘rogue’ phenomena include, for example, paranormal or ‘psi’ abilities of various kinds, extreme forms of psychophysical influence such as stigmata and hypnotic blisters, the most basic experiential properties of our human memory system, multiple and overlapping centers of consciousness associated with single physical organisms, powerful near-death experiences occurring under extreme physiological conditions such as deep general anesthesia and/or cardiac arrest, genius-level creativity, and mystical experiences whether spontaneous, the result of intensive meditative practice, or induced by psychedelics. There is even direct evidence of several substantial kinds for postmortem survival, coupled with increasing recognition that the only credible explanations for this evidence involve either survival itself or psi processes in and among living persons—a dilemma both horns of which are fatal to the physicalist worldview.

Classical physicalism is too impoverished to carry this heavy empirical burden, but what should take its place? Serious attempts to imagine how reality must be constituted, in order that rogue phenomena of the indicated sorts can happen, appear to lead inescapably into metaphysical territory partially overlapping with the world’s spiritual traditions—specifically, toward some yet-to-be-fully-characterized form of evolutionary panentheism. An idealist worldview of this type rests upon just three core principles: First, that the manifest world arises from and is constituted by a tremendous world-transcending ultimate reality of some conscious sort; second, that we humans are intimately linked with that ultimate reality in the depths of our individual psyches, and can experience it directly in a variety of ways; and third, that the antecedently existing universal consciousness or universal self that is the source of the manifest universe is in some sense slowly waking up to itself as evolution of more complex biological forms enables fuller expression of its inherent capacities.

edit: To be clear I'm not whole-heartedly advocating Idealism, but I am also wary of Dualism because it just seems odd to me that you have these points of causal intersection of two distinct substances...If I had to pick I'd go with a Neutral Monism though I guess some might see that as a cop-out since I'm not saying what the "stuff" of reality actually is...then again does anyone have a clear conception of the "mental", "spiritual", or "physical"?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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