My Review of "The Myth of an Afterlife"

#61
I just skimmed through your review. I have a skeptic question that I rarely see skeptics bring up: anaesthetics wipe out consciousness completely, if there's a soul, where does it go during surgery? In a dreamless sleep there's still some degree of awareness, when you wake up you feel there's a passage of time, whereas for anaesthetics you close your eyes then open them again like everything was instant. I find this to be easily the most problematic argument against afterlife, I'm surprised it rarely gets brought up by materialists, there are ways to deal with personality change/memory loss etc, and please don't get me started on how stupid split brain is, even if I was a materialist split consciousness is beyond stupid. But anaesthetics I see no way out, even if the brain is shut down we should still experience something if there was a soul.
I don't see it that way. As I see it, mind affects brain and brain affects mind. So while we are attached to our brain (still living) and under anesthesia, your brain is still working (is not compromised) but the anesthesia is affecting it in a way such that your consciousness is affected. Nobody would deny that doing certain things to the brain affects your consciousness. You also don't remember most of your dreams, but it doesn't mean that they don't happen. You can get hit over the head and lose memories of entire days. This is different than what you are talking about, as at least in my examples, we know the experiences existed before they were lost. But, again, we already know that taking certain drugs or doing different things to the brain can affect the quality of consciousness dramatically. That's not in contention. But this just shows that brain affects mind (and we know that mind affects brain, ie-the placebo affect). We can't say that anesthesia simply "wipes out consciousness" because we don't even know what consciousness is. But we can say that it affects the experience of the mind for the time being. But I think its a leap to suggest that the affects of anesthesia show that the brain is the same as the mind. It just shows what we already know, that brain affects mind. Especially when we have all these other data points which at least suggest that consciousness is seperate (although related to the brain). But these other events also seem to suggest that while we are related to our brains, we dont NEED our brain. I would say our brain needs our consciousness.
 
#62
I think a lot of neuroscientist take survival as meaning the Cartesian soul exist, and tbh I find substance dualism even more problematic than materialism. Afterall, how is the soul, made of some non physical substance, consciousness? The hard problem still applies.
This seems to me to be all awfully confused. The soul can't be made of mental substance since they are one and the very same!

I see the soul/self/mental substance all being one and the very same existent. And it's not made of anything since it has no parts.

A substance is that which has properties. A self has the properties of experiences in the most general sense. A self is not the sum of such experiences, but rather is the author of such experiences. Or to put it another way, as well as experiences, there is an experiencer (mental substance/self/soul).

As I say in my 13,000 review:

The self also needs to be contrasted with consciousness. The self is the *I* or the author of my thoughts, feelings, sensations and so on. It is the experiencer -- that which has experiences. The relationship of the self to consciousness is similar to the relationship of the sea to waves. They are different, but in both cases the latter could not exist without the former. Selves also serve the purpose of grouping certain experiences together so that certain experiences can be properly be said to be had by a person. That is to say, there is not just one universal consciousness we all partake in. Rather they are different selves with their own unique streams of consciousness.

Re The hard problem. There can't be any hard problem under dualism. The hard problem refers to the fact that consciousness cannot be reduced to the material world. But only materialist positions hold that consciousness is reducible.
 
#64
#67
It would be better if I weren't compelled to provide a rating. I'd rather people start reading my review without any preconceptions as to my eventual conclusion.

In addition, when I read customer reviews on books regarding contentious topics like whether there's a "life after death" or not, if there's loads of reviews I tend to avoid reading both 5 star and 1 star reviews. 5 star reviews will tend to be made by people who entirely are in accord with the author's position and won't say anything critical, the one star reviews might tend to be from people who just want to stick the boot in. But 2 to 4 stars might tend to be more nuanced, balanced and thoughtful.

For that reason I was desperately looking for some excuse to award the book 2 stars. Unfortunately I couldn't find any!
 
#68
Keith Augustine's contributions were of a higher standard than the others. If the authors contributions had been as good as Keith's I would have given it 2 stars.
 
#69
Maybe on a novel or some other creative work. On a technical subject I struggle to see how "rude" has anything to do with a rigorous argument.
It certainly enhances your chances of people taking your critique seriously, particularly those who are getting critiqued.

For that reason I was desperately looking for some excuse to award the book 2 stars. Unfortunately I couldn't find any!
That is unfortunate.
 
#72
Looks like they've changed the rules so that you need to have spent $50 in the past year at the specific branch of Amazon you wish to post a review. Looks like the rule change occurred shortly after posting my review. I was lucky.

Surely one ought to be allowed to write a review if one has spent $50 in the past 12 months for *any* Amazon. Why would you have to specifically spend it at the US branch??

And not being allowed to even edit a review is ridiculous.
 
#73
It certainly enhances your chances of people taking your critique seriously, particularly those who are getting critiqued.
He gave it 1 star; now dubbed "rude". Would 2 stars have been "polite"? 3, 4, or 5 stars would have seemed disingenuous based on the review itself.

Just seems a bit snowflakish to categorically eliminate the provisioning of a 1 star rating because it would seem "rude". I mean its a five point scale. Should I consider any 5 to be equally extreme and likely an empty platitude?
 
#74
He gave it 1 star; now dubbed "rude". Would 2 stars have been "polite"? 3, 4, or 5 stars would have seemed disingenuous based on the review itself.

Just seems a bit snowflakish to categorically eliminate the provisioning of a 1 star rating because it would seem "rude". I mean its a five point scale. Should I consider any 5 to be equally extreme and likely an empty platitude?
Just look at the result in the comments section, they refuse to take the critique seriously. Maybe it would have been better to post it somewhere other than Amazon, maybe an email exchange would have been the best.
 
#75
Just look at the result in the comments section, they refuse to take the critique seriously. Maybe it would have been better to post it somewhere other than Amazon, maybe an email exchange would have been the best.
I'm a bit confused. It's only Keith, the main contributor to this book, who (unsurprisingly) doesn't like my review in the comments.
 
#77
Re The hard problem. There can't be any hard problem under dualism. The hard problem refers to the fact that consciousness cannot be reduced to the material world. But only materialist positions hold that consciousness is reducible.
Can you explain how a non material substance can be conscious? Can you imagine any object, violating thermodynamics/violating conservation laws/anything you want, that can be conscious without assuming it is by brutal force? If you're going substance dualism and assuming the soul substance is conscious by brute force, why dont you go panpsychism instead of hypothesising an extra substance?

To me the only self consistent ontology is idealism, matter is very real but it's not the solid stuff we think it is. I believe materials are in fact subject experiences, they can interact with each other and if we experience a rock first hand we're have a experience instead of a picture of a solid rock, our vision of the rock is first hand experience of the brain state after light from the rock goes into eyes.
 
#78
Can you explain how a non material substance can be conscious? Can you imagine any object, violating thermodynamics/violating conservation laws/anything you want, that can be conscious without assuming it is by brutal force? If you're going substance dualism and assuming the soul substance is conscious by brute force, why dont you go panpsychism instead of hypothesising an extra substance?

To me the only self consistent ontology is idealism, matter is very real but it's not the solid stuff we think it is. I believe materials are in fact subject experiences, they can interact with each other and if we experience a rock first hand we're have a experience instead of a picture of a solid rock, our vision of the rock is first hand experience of the brain state after light from the rock goes into eyes.
How can the self, the experiencer, be conscious? I am unable to discern any meaning to the question. To quote my full 13,000 review (has anyone actually read it??)

"An immaterial substance or self by definition has intentionality and phenomenal consciousness. They are intrinsic to the self. You cannot have a self, or immaterial substance, which lacks consciousness or intentionality. Such a concept is simply nonsensical".

You might compare it to the question of why electrons have electric charge and asking how they can have an electric charge. But again, this question is meaningless if electrons are fundamental. The very question of how selves are conscious presupposes consciousness is reducible, that is that materialism is correct. But by definition if materialism is correct, there are no substantial selves.

I have no idea how you and other materialists (not just in this volume) are conceiving of a mental substance, but I simply mean by it the sense of self I have had all my life. We are not assuming such a self by brute force. Indeed, on the contrary, the self is that which we appear to be immediately acquainted with, hence Descartes "I think therefore I am". To quote my review again:

The self is the *I* or the author of my thoughts, feelings, sensations and so on. It is the experiencer -- that which has experiences. The relationship of the self to consciousness is similar to the relationship of the sea to waves. They are different, but in both cases the latter could not exist without the former. Selves also serve the purpose of grouping certain experiences together so that certain experiences can be properly be said to be had by a person. That is to say, there is not just one universal consciousness we all partake in. Rather they are different selves with their own unique streams of consciousness.

And again, if you had read my review, I explicitly state I lean towards idealism rather than dualism.
 
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