How real is death?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 1 month ago.

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  • #39106

    Unseen
    Participant

    Science tells us time may not be real, so if we assume that’s true, is death real? More than one physicist has described time as an illusion, so is being “alive” in time also an illusion and, if so, what about death?

    Your thoughts.

    A video about time to whet your thoughts:

    David Jonathan Gross is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of asymptotic freedom. Gross is the Chancellor’s Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    #39107

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Time may not be real.  On the other hand, we have a perception of time, so that would point to something going on somewhere.  Also, Einstein’s mathematics depend on time to function logically, do they not?

    Reality is real, and death is real.  I know so, because people I knew have passed away.

    #39111

    Unseen
    Participant

    Time may not be real. On the other hand, we have a perception of time, so that would point to something going on somewhere. Also, Einstein’s mathematics depend on time to function logically, do they not?

    But that something that’s going on might also be an illusion as well. If not, why not? I’m not a physicist, so I’ll have to defer to someone deeper into that field than I, as a science appreciator, than I am.

    Reality is real, and death is real. I know so, because people I knew have passed away.

    There’s nothing there, it seems to me, that could be but a dream, is there?

    #39117

    _Robert_
    Participant

    You are the only observer that matters so in your space time dead is dead

    #39140

    Unseen
    Participant

    You are the only observer that matters so in your space time dead is dead

    If, in fact, there is a real observer (ref: the pods in The Matrix) having real perceptions.

    #39177

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Could a counter-question be just as relevant, such as “how real is life”? The only scientific viewpoints I’ve seen on this are just… viewpoints, and philosophical questions that lack empirical data. Regarding standard definitions of life and death, and even the definition of “reality”, I see more opinions than science. Come to think of it, there are voids here that religions have not only been claiming to fill for milenia, but have arrogantly, outrightly owned.

    Is a virus alive, or dead? Scientists define life as an inherent, biological ability to maintain metabolic processes, including the process of reproduction. Viruses, and in fact in other kinds of species that produce seeds or spores or other states of existence, those metabolic processes are put on hold, as if they’re dead. The definition of whether they’re dead or alive is now an arbitrary decision among scientists or whoever else wants to declare what the definition should be. Is Pluto a planet?

    We humans construct our our concepts and definitions. Our attempts to define or explain reality are what got us to our relatively advanced stage of scientific evolution, but science works only in the context of making empirical discoveries and constructing testable predictions. I would say that “reality” is that which exists, including natural laws, and will always exist naturally, outside of my own experience, even though experience is the only thing that matters to me, personally. In a way it’s ironic, that my definition of reality necessarily removes myself from the definition.

    #39180

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I’m also increasingly suspicious of the relevance of the term “illusion”. Illusion only exists in thought processes, in brains. Continuing in theme from my previous post, illusions have no relevance in scientific discourse… unless we’re talking specifically in terms of empirical data when trying to measure consciousness, which (btw) is also necessarily in the larger context of physiological processes that occur only in brains.

    The way that science defines reality, again removing our personal experiences from the equation, must exclude our personal experiences including our illusions. Again, except when specifically discussing measurable (and empirically predictable) aspects of illusory experiences that exist only in each being’s brain.

    #39181

    Unseen
    Participant

    I’m also suspicious of the relevance of the term “illusion”. Illusion only exists in thought processes, in brains. Continuing in theme from my previous post, illusions have no relevance in scientific discourse… unless we’re talking specifically in terms of empirical data when trying to measure consciousness, which (btw) is also necessarily in the larger context of physiological processes that occur only in brains.

    The way that science defines reality, again removing our personal experiences from the equation, must exclude our personal experiences and our illusions.

    Some illusions (e.g., natural camouflage of moths and lizards, for example) operate quite well on very low forms of life that we might think of as having primitive brains but maybe not true minds, but work not so well on higher orders of intelligence.

    #39184

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Some illusions (e.g., natural camouflage of moths and lizards, for example) operate quite well on very low forms of life that we might think of as having primitive brains but maybe not true minds, but work not so well on higher orders of intelligence.

    True, as evolutionary pressures have favored the development of camouflage with or without brains, while brains have evolved that can more accurately deduce realities wrt assessing predator or prey circumstances, or even further, mimic and fake behaviors. Meanwhile, more advanced brains can accidentally invent new and detrimental illusions as a side-effect to inventing more advanced and beneficial assessments of reality.

    The way some octupi can dynamically camouflage to match their physical surroundings is particularly interesting, because they can do this with mini-brains (so to speak) in their tentacles and body that receive light input in those parts of the tentacles and body. I would save the word “illusion” for what’s happening in human, or maybe even philosophical brains. What probably bugs me the most is how often scientists use that term when it just doesn’t add to the particular scientific discussion.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: much later, i removed my "whoops" clause, thinking then i was off-topic
    #39192

    Unseen
    Participant

    @Popie

    Octopuses challenge many of our conceptions about what it’s like to simply be as an intelligent being. They are very intelligent, matching and perhaps exceeding the reasoning ability of crows, which is amazing. Forcing us to ask “What IS a brain” since their thinking power is distributed throughout their body into multiple “brains” whereas we have just two brains (counting the two hemispheres of the one in your head, taken together, as one brain).

    But the octupus’s intelligence has a sad aspect, since the common octopus (like the wonderful one in the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher)  live but two years, one to mature and one to mate,  raise their offspring, and die. Even the giant pacific octopus maxes out at four to five years. By contrast, their probable intellectual peer, the crow, can live over fifty and up to nearly 60 years in captivity, though seven to eight is more common in the wild.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  Unseen.
    #39211

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Genetically inheritable adaptation only works when death is programmed into each species, i.e. when old makes way for the new. I didn’t know or remember about the short lives of octopi, but there must be some selective advantage to their having frequent generations… from what I just read, I surmise that their selection pressures are the need to adapt across generations to dynamic environmental conditions — most notably temperature, light and the lack of nutrition. Shorter, more frequent generations apparently reduces long term risks of overpopulation.

    I think more about death these days, but so far, only in terms of how I want to accomplish goals before my time’s up. In light of Authoritarianist DJ McNasty and His Nastily Nationalistic Hegemonites and Fellow Let-God-Sort-Them-Out Social Darwinists, I’ve felt at times that maybe striving to improve humanity is hopeless. But most of the time I feel like I have to keep trying anyway. Delusions, illusions, schmillusions notwithstanding.

    #39212

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Quite possibly, the octopus dies because it has reproduced, and is no longer needed.  I heard in the Nichola Raihani vs. Michael Shermer podcast in this week’s Sunday School, that there is an evolutionary reason why human grandmothers survive past reproductive age.  They are helping their grandchildren to survive by helping to look after them, so evolution and their genes favour them to stay alive (the Selfish Gene).

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