Why Gödel believed in an afterlife

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An interesting article (https://aeon.co/essays/kurt-godel-his-mo...fter-death) just came out going into the reasons why Kurt Gödel, arguably and well accepted as the greatest or one of the greatest logicians and mathematicians of the twentieth century, was certain of an afterlife, in direct opposition to the fixed dogmatic materialism of contemporary academia. His reasons had nothing to do with parapsychology and the evidence of paranormal experiences. 

His rationale for belief in an afterlife was basically metaphysical and philosophical, and is this:

Quote:"If the world is rationally organised and has meaning, then it must be the case. For what sort of a meaning would it have to bring about a being (the human being) with such a wide field of possibilities for personal development and relationships to others, only then to let him achieve not even 1/1,000th of it?
He deepens the rhetorical question at the end with the metaphor of someone who lays the foundation for a house only to walk away from the project and let it waste away. Gödel thinks such waste is impossible since the world, he insists, gives us good reason to consider it to be shot through with order and meaning. Hence, a human being who can achieve only partial fulfilment in a lifetime must seek rational validation for this deficiency in a future world, one in which our potential manifests."
............................................

As he writes in a letter to his mother dated 23 July 1961:

"Does one have a reason to assume that the world is rationally organised? I think so. For it is absolutely not chaotic and arbitrary, rather – as natural science demonstrates – there reigns in everything the greatest regularity and order. Order is, indeed, a form of rationality."

Gödel thinks that rationality is evident in the world through the deep structure of reality. Science as a method demonstrates this through its validated assumption that intelligible order is discoverable in the world, facts are verifiable through repeatable experiments, and theories obtain in their respective domains regardless of where and when one tests them.

It is this result that shook the mathematical community to its core
.............................................
In the letter from 6 October 1961, Gödel expounds his position: ‘The idea that everything in the world has meaning is, by the way, the exact analogue of the principle that everything has a cause on which the whole of science is based.’ Gödel – just like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, whom he idolised – believed that everything in the world has a reason for its being so and not otherwise (in philosophical jargon: it accords with the principle of sufficient reason)."

Of course the idea that everything in the world has meaning is controversial - all it takes is enumerating the countless apparently random and meaningless tragedies of disease and other misfortunes that people suffer in this world, plus the myriads of examples of apparently pointless and meaningless "mistakes" of evolution, that never went anywhere with large populations of primitive but sentient beings. However, I think Gödel's views should be given a lot of credence due to his eminence as the greatest logician and probably mathematician of the 20th century.

Quote:As the foremost logician of the 20th century, Kurt Gödel is well known for his incompleteness theorems and contributions to set theory, the publications of which changed the course of mathematics, logic and computer science. When he was awarded the Albert Einstein Prize to recognise these achievements in 1951, the mathematician John von Neumann gave a speech in which he described Gödel’s achievements in logic and mathematics as so momentous that they will ‘remain visible far in space and time’. By contrast, his philosophical and religious views remain all but hidden from view. Gödel was private about these, publishing nothing on this subject during his lifetime.
(This post was last modified: 2024-01-03, 05:22 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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I don't really understand what Godel means by Essence, or why the author of the essay thinks we need Essences to categorize things?

I think the argument of immateriality from Maths was good though.
'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


This resonates very much with me as I think of our existence in a very similar manner.
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Gödel's view was apparently that human life must have a greater meaning and purpose than offered by an individual limited lifetime, because our reality is "shot through" with the meaning, purpose, order and rationality of the natural laws. On further reflection, I have to have the temerity to point out that this claim is only part of the picture - the countless random and meaningless tragedies of disease and other misfortunes that people suffer in this world show that human life is a complex combination of both meaning and purpose and meaningless purposeless suffering. Similarly, the natural order, though grounded in principles of law, order and rationality, is full of physical phenomena (some damaging to humans) resulting from these ordered rules of reality, that are completely without any human meaning or purpose. A few examples out of multitudes would be plate tectonics resulting in earthquakes and volcanoes, atmospheric physics resulting sometimes in tornadoes and hurricanes, and infrequent but catastrophic asteroidal impacts. Physical reality therefore is also a complex combination. Because of this more complicated picture, it seems to me that therefore, there is not a clear inference here to the reality of an afterlife. 

There are of course several other and more powerful metaphysical and philosophical arguments against materialism, and for the existence of immaterial mind and consciousness.

I think that for the existence of the afterlife we have to more depend on the evidence furnished by paranormal phenomena, with the CORT reincarnation phenomena and veridical NDEs leading the pack.
(This post was last modified: 2024-01-05, 12:20 AM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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It seems to me that if one accepts the notion of the immaterial mind then the afterlife is a natural assumption. Why would the immaterial cease to be because the physical host has expired - literally "given up the ghost"? What makes much more sense to me is to conclude that the physical body is a temporary host for the immaterial spirit which returns to its natural state after its sojourn in this world.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2024-01-06, 08:07 PM)Kamarling Wrote: It seems to me that if one accepts the notion of the immaterial mind then the afterlife is a natural assumption. Why would the immaterial cease to be because the physical host has expired - literally "given up the ghost"? What makes much more sense to me is to conclude that the physical body is a temporary host for the immaterial spirit which returns to its natural state after its sojourn in this world.

Of course. The problem is that academic philosophy mostly, and almost the entire establishment of science, outright reject without serious consideration the notion of immaterial mind. Godel tried to find a purely philosophical or metaphysical argument for survival (which I agree is a natural inference from the existence of immaterial mind), but at this point I don't think he was successful.
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Penrose is a big fan of Gödel and based his book (The Emperor's New Mind) partly on Gödel's theories. Yet Penrose remains a materialist although quite an open minded one.
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.
Freeman Dyson
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(2024-01-03, 05:16 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: An interesting article (https://aeon.co/essays/kurt-godel-his-mo...fter-death) just came out going into the reasons why Kurt Gödel, arguably and well accepted as the greatest or one of the greatest logicians and mathematicians of the twentieth century, was certain of an afterlife, in direct opposition to the fixed dogmatic materialism of contemporary academia. His reasons had nothing to do with parapsychology and the evidence of paranormal experiences. 


Thanks for bringing this excellent article to our attention.  I am a fan of "The Institute", Von Neumann, Gödel and Turing.  I received the book; "When Einstein walked with Gödel", as a gift.  Wonderful read!
  
Quote: However, Gödel thought the theorem’s results dealt a heavy blow to the materialistic worldview. If the mind is irreducible to the physical parts of the brain, and mathematics reveals a rationally accessible structure beyond physical phenomena, then an alternative worldview should be sought that is more rationalistic and open to truths that cannot be tested by the senses. Such a perspective could endorse a rationally organised world and be open to the possibility of life after death.- ibid

Current philosophers of science discuss how math objects are a subset of information objects.  My causal model endorses "accessible structure" as being those variables delineated by information science, particularly those promoting communication.  Gödel stressed that "meaning" is the phenomena that grounds his metaphysical worldview.  I strongly agree.  And point to advanced studies into linguistics, history, communication, literature, which are all focused on meaning -- meaning that is effective in changing reality in the extreme. 

The "how" of meaning is open to scientific study.
(This post was last modified: 2024-01-10, 12:57 AM by stephenw. Edited 1 time in total.)
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