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ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture

Perhaps only careful readers are aware, but I belong to a denomination that doesn't believe in an afterlife in the Catholic sense. In line with Mykcob's previous OP, we believe death is death, until our physical bodies are resurrected.

This is an interesting position. Having no soul to lean on, there is no external continuity for our consciousness once we're dead.

Modern science is still trying to understand consciousness. With the emergence of AI, many even wonder if we could upload our consciousness into a computer, or download information into our brains. Can we replace neurons one by one with transistors? Would it still be us, or merely a copy?

If a resurrection is fundamentally impossible in regards to consciousness, what does that mean for sleep? Are we a different person when we wake up than when we fall asleep? What does the absence of consciousness during a coma mean for self-identity? Or when brain activity is essentially brought to zero, then brought back during generalized anesthesia, is there a discontinuity in consciousness?

Will medical resurrections one day be possible? Thoughts?

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Sapporo's picture
In regards this question, I

In regards this question, I feel like Newton when he wrote that "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Can we

John 6IX Breezy - Can we replace neurons one by one with transistors?

That won't work because the "logic" of neurons is much more complicated than the logic of a transistor. For example, a transistor's behavior (its logic) can be replicated as a function of its inputs.

To do the same thing with a neuron would require a function of:

  1. its inputs
  2. its previous inputs
  3. a scheme to track the age of each input
  4. a scheme to track the distance of each input from the trigger zone
  5. probably other stuff
ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I don't know much about

I don't know much about transistors, but neurons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We can already mimic their function with things like cochlear implants, which bypasses the mechanistic aspects of the ear, and replicates it with electrical ones. That stimulation forces the receptors to fire, and if you do so just right, you can make the brain hear sounds it couldn't before.

It doesn't seem far-fetched to replace more complex types of neurons.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - We can

John 6IX Breezy - We can already mimic their function with things like cochlear implants...

If you are willing to use more than one transistor, then I don't know of any reason you couldn't reproduce the "truth table" of a neuron to some high degree of accuracy.

Cronus's picture
Consciousness is for people

Consciousness is for people who know how to handle their alcohol.


Cognostic's picture
What do you dominate?

What do you dominate?

1. Having your physical body resurrected is an afterlife. So you don't believe in an afterlife but you believe in an afterlife? Do you think you are making sense?

2. Consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. Are you shooting for a God of the Gaps? Science knows more about consciousness than Jesus ever did. Simply knowing that consciousness is not caused by spirits making people mad is a huge step forward that never would have happened if religions remained in power.

3. What do you dominate?

4. What in the world do you imagine is a connection between resurrection and sleep? Are we different people when we sleep - yes. Every experience you have in your life makes you a different person. You are not the same person you were when you were 5 years old. You are not the same person you were when you were 10. You will not be the same person a year from now or even a day from now that you are at this moment. It is not possible to burn the same candle twice. You are a process, not a thing. You are moving through time. The idea that you are a thing is just your mind playing the attachment game.

5. A patient is in a coma is considered legally alive. Patients who are in coma will have some neurological signs. (Their brain is working.) The amount of brain activity is variable. physician(s) observes the patient for any sign of electrical impulse leaving the brain as a result of an external stimulus. Patients in coma will have these signs; patients who suffer brain death will not. In short: The brain is active in sleep and in a coma. In DEATH the brain is DEAD. There is no activity and there isn't going to be any activity as it rots in the grave.

6. In no way are brain functions near zero under anesthesia. If this happened you would be DEAD on the operating table. In the NEJM paper, the authors define general anesthesia as a “drug-induced, reversible condition that includes specific behavioral and physiological traits” — unconsciousness, amnesia, pain numbing, and inability to move. Also key is the stability of body functions such as respiration, circulation and temperature regulation.

General anesthesia EEG patterns are most similar to those of a comatose brain. As Brown points out, general anesthesia is essentially a “reversible coma.”

7. Medical resurrection is already possible. It is called CPR. Many people have been revived after their hearts have stopped. The whole point of CPR is to maintain perfusion of the brain, not the heart. Once the brain is denied oxygen it starts to die. Some studies have shown that in as few 10 to 30 seconds, electrical activity stops once the blood flow to the brain stops but as long as blood flow remains to the minimal brain electrical activity will continue. People who have been resurrected after a few minutes of their brain being starved of oxygen have suffered significant brain damage.

All you are doing is making wild assertions that have no foundation in science or logic.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
1. It does make sense,

1. It does, particularly because I specified the "Catholic" sense. The term afterlife is typically used in a spiritual context; it is other-worldly; occurring in a different realm or dimension to which your spirit goes. All those things are absent from my theology, so the term afterlife is inappropriate.

2. Clearly consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. Not sure what gaps you think I'm filling.

4. The connection between resurrection and sleep is consciousness. One has a total loss of consciousness, the other a partial loss. But, I disagree with you that we are not a continual self. If I am different than I was five years ago, it is a difference of degree and not kind. I am not two different people, I am the same person. Whatever changes occurred, have not affect my identity.

5. Have you ever been under anesthesia? I haven't, but those who have report a skip in continuity. One second they're waiting for the surgery to begin, and the next its over. Its as if they felt what its like to cease to exist, to no longer be. Your entire brain activity doesn't have to reach absolute zero, only your consciousness. No dreams, no thinking, no awareness, just unconsciousness.

7. Then clearly medical resurrection haven't happened yet. As you mentioned, CPR prevents brain damage. You're keeping a person from dying, not bringing them back from the dead.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "Have you

@John 61X Breezy: "Have you ever been under anesthesia?"

Yes. As you say, there's no sensation of time. It's lights off, lights on. So there are several hours of my life that I didn't experience. But I think continuity of memory is the important thing. When I woke up, I was relieved to find that I recognized my wife and had intact memories. Without your memories, you aren't you anymore.

Because my heart was stopped, I was also concerned about a condition called "pumphead", which is a cognitive decline caused by the heart-lung machine. Fortunately I can still add up 2 and 2 and read the writing on the wall.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well, but you didn't really

Well, but you didn't really experience a continuity of memory. Technically your brain now thinks its several hours younger than it really is, because those hours of unconsciousness are also hours missing from memory. I agree memory is important to self-identity. But if a resurrection happens, is all that's required a re-installing of your memories? Or would every single one of your original neurons need to be placed back?

Cognostic's picture
You need to read a book!

You need to read a book!

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I need to stop reading books

I need to stop reading books actually, I have nowhere to put them anymore lol.

David Killens's picture
I am self aware. That ability

I am self aware. That ability is a result of my complex brain and it's functions. If my brain is damaged, then it is likely that my brain will not function as before. If my brain stops functioning, then I will not be self aware, I would be dead. Dead, and nothing lives on. Nothing.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
What about when we are able

What about when we are able to regrow or transplant damaged portions of your brain, would your self-awareness be the same as before, or would you be a different person?

I suppose you don't think medical resurrections would ever be possible, and if they are, they're not bringing back the same person.

chimp3's picture
I have read that

I have read that consciousness is not one thing. It is a compilation of multiple functions of the brain and nervous system that we are fooled into perceiving as a single unit. I care for many people with dementia. If they believe their mother, who was born in the 1890's, is alive and just cooked dinner, there is no persuading them. The brains ability to confidently organize our sensorium and maintain a sense of identity is impressive. I believe that this subjectively perceived unification of personality would be maintained in spite of transplant, resurrection, or regrowth.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Have you heard of Oliver Sack

Have you heard of Oliver Sack's Awakenings? These were individuals whose consciousness was essentially frozen for decades due to encephalitis. Severely catatonic as well. However, when they were given medication and finally awoke, all their identity and memories were stuck in the past. Its as if their brains had travel through time, remaining constant, while their bodies had grown older.

chimp3's picture
John: Sacks, yes I have heard

John: Sacks, yes I have heard of this but did not read the book. Studying Psychology I am sure you studied Erik Erikson. So, with dementia victims we still see the mind undergoing the age appropriate tasks that Erikson defined. A 90 old man looking for his mother may be reflecting on his life. Ego integrity vs. despair. Was I worth it?
We have therapeutic communication techniques which address Erikson's theory and are very effective. Example, the 90 year old man looking for his mother. You stop and talk to him about his mother. "Was she a good cook?" "What kind of music did your mother enjoy?" Soon you have a confused old man calmly (sometimes) reflecting on his life. The aging brain seems to have compensatory skills just like the heart and lungs.

algebe's picture
@John 61X Breezy: "medical

@John 61X Breezy: "medical resurrections"

Ever read "Pet Semetary" by Stephen King?

David Killens's picture
Self aware is self aware, it

Self aware is self aware, it is binary. There are not different stages. But I suspect you are confusing knowledge, behaviors, other subtle differences that define each individual. Those are subject to change.

Every second you are a different person than you were previously. As long as the brain is alive, it will function. But the brain undergoes changes. The brain of a child is much different than one of a teen, and that is different than an adult, and that is different than one suffering a stroke or Alzheimer's.

Some constant activities going on are cell damage or destruction, cell growth, neurons rebuilding new pathways, different chemicals being released. Those activities are going on this moment inside you head, and everyone else's.

We go to bed each night, and when we wake up we are a different person.

I suggest you do some reading on the effects of a stroke, and it's mechanisms. Additionally neural plasticity. Because you are basically describing the same cause and effect.

You suppose wrong, I know more about medical resurrections than I wish. In 2010 I had an emergency surgery and they lost my vital signs twice on the table. I had a near death experience, as religious folks like to identify such results. But I understand that my brain was starved of oxygen, it was shutting down and that action triggered kinds of weird things going on inside my noggin. I had a weird and powerful dream, I did not see clouds and winged creatures playing harps, nor did I see fire or hot things.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
The issue with the loss of

The issue with the loss of oxygen in your experience, is that you didn't lose consciousness. Near-death experiences describe an altered state of consciousness, but not an absence of it. Still, I suppose that being pulled back from such a state, or even a coma, does qualify as a resurrection of sorts.

I don't know that there aren't stages of self-awareness. One prominent stage children pass through is the development of a "theory of mind." They need to learn that other people have distinct mental lives. Self-awareness is a strange concept when you think "self" encapsulates other's.

The brain undergoes changes, sure, but at no point is there a discontinuity. Memories for example, aggregate. My identity is built from the stories stored in my memory. You and I are different people, but the me now and the me from a year ago, are not different people. Changes equals growths in identity, not a collapse in identity.

I am aware of the effects of strokes, but a stroke is a catastrophic event. Any changes in identity that result are not supposed to be normal.

David Killens's picture
Do not assert what happened

Do not assert what happened to me, you were not there.

Sheldon's picture
Do you have any evidence of

Do you have any evidence of resurrected brains that had fully ceased to function? Otherwise all you're saying is that a brain is capable of repairing itself after it has been damaged. No one would dispute this, stroke patients make recoveries of this sort all the time, but their brains are not dead, just damaged.

What evidence can you demonstrate that a human survives the physical death of their own brain in any meaningful way?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
If the brain can repair

If the brain can repair itself after damage, I've not come across examples of it. You can recover from a stroke because strokes do not always cause tissue damage, or if it does its not significant. Specially if treatment is received before the golden hour is up.

Any neurogenesis that occurs is too limited to repair CNS damage.

Sheldon's picture
You missed my question again.

You missed my question again...

Can you demonstrate any evidence of resurrected brains that had fully ceased to function?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I find your question

I find your question redundant and oblivious:

  • Redundant because the OP already asks if medical resurrection will someday be possible, meaning they are not currently occurring
  • Oblivious because it ignores the circumstantial evidence discussed and critiqued throughout the thread
Sheldon's picture
So no then, just the usual

So no then, just the usual hearsay and bald assertion.

fishy1's picture
Your soul and your

Your soul and your Consciousness is one in the same. When you die your Consciousness stops, and your soul is gone.
Do you remember all the things you were thinking about 100 years ago ??? Well you will be thinking about the exact same things 100 years from now :-)

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
If technology can't bring

If technology can't bring people back in 100 years, certainly. But maybe in 200 years it'll be a different story.

CyberLN's picture
Martine Rothblatt’s

Martine Rothblatt’s organization is doing some interesting work in this area.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
I'll look her up then.

I'll look her up then.

CyberLN's picture
There’s a decent interview

There’s a decent interview with her on TED.


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