What the neuroscientists are hard at work on is whether the brain is just completely biological. Philosophers have plenty of fun with this too. It’s worrying to me.
The overwhelming scientific view is that life is strictly biological. Most folks who study any serious kind of science become atheists. People with damaged brains, people who get some brain disease, people who wreck their spinal cord, all often end up with seriously messed up or at least radically different personalities. Finally, any reasonable attempt at setting up a non-scientific base seems to be fraught with difficulties and inconsistencies.
However, there’s the qualia to contend with. Qualia are weird, and consciousness is weird also. I’ll leave it at that.
Thought experiment. Suppose we have a program called UniverseEditor.exe and we edit the universe to make a copy of Bob in front of the old Bob. What does Bob feel?
This is an ambiguous question. The copied Bob was standing there when he suddenly felt being spontaneously being moved forward. The old Bob was standing there when he suddenly saw a new Bob materialize in front of him.
Which is the real Bob? Can we even ask that question? We already know that reality is subjective. So suppose copying people is illegal (plus various citizenship problems) and one of the Bobs has to be killed. To this Bob, once he’s dead, he’s dead. He knows that his life will be lived out by the other Bob, and that the other Bob would perform just as well as he would, and so on, but that doesn’t help. To this Bob, death is still the end of everything this Bob will ever perceive.
So now is death subjective? So now how does the afterlife work? Of course we don’t know if copying people is possible for humans in reality, but it seems physically possible and conceivable.
Life is just so weird. I feel very often that my life is unreal. I feel also that there’s something else beyond it, something that makes *sense*. I feel that there’s something alarmingly normal and non-volatile about my life, that there are thousands—nay, simply an uncountable number of—of things which I will never know. I will never know what it was like to live during WWI or what it was like to invent calligraphy or—I despair of naming it all. One person is just so insignificant.
Spontaneously I found one goal. I will list every single possible way in which humans would work, consciousness would work, qualia, all that philo jazz. Then I will figure out what each one implies about life. It’s like “what if the Riemann Hypothesis were true?” But for organization that’s the next post.