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Posted by Paul R. Martin on January 13, 2004 17:28:44 UTC

Hi Wanda,

"I am less interested in the definition of "WE' than if any we by any definition can survive death."

I understand. The question of life after death is of paramount interest. But I think we need to come to grips with the question of identity before any comment on survival makes sense. What exactly is it that we expect, or would like, to survive death? It is that very "thing" that I take to be our identity. So once we have pinned that down, we may examine the question of its survival.

"And in considering a medium, for me it has to be a natural medium."

How would you define 'natural'? To me, if 'natural' means that it is part of nature, then I would say everything that exists is natural. On the other hand, if by 'natural' you mean in distinction to 'artificial', then I would say that everything that exists that was not made by humans is natural. In either case, I would think that any candidate "medium" would be natural.

This raises the question of what you mean by 'medium'. What do you mean?

"In the analogy you offered, the medium is space. I am looking for somethiung more like aether in which an intelligent being can exist"

If you mean my radio analogy, then we have EM radiation carrying the information. The medium is the EM field, which, it is true, extends over space. Aether, as I understand it, is simply a posited "substance" which contains the EM field. I don't see how any of the concepts of space, aether, fields, or dark matter (for that matter), is any more or less satisfactory in serving as the "vessel" that holds consciousness. None of them seems to me to shed any light on the actual nature of consciousness.

"Any ideas on that one?"

Well, to reiterate a little, I suspect that if we were able to pursue the nature of consciousness in the way we have pursued the nature of matter for the past couple millennia, we would find the same kind of elusive, receding, target. Since matter has more or less evaporated to the point that it is nothing but information, I suspect that consciousness would similarly evaporate into nothing more than the capacity to know information.

In other words, I think consciousness is fundamental. I think that nothing exists except for consciousness and its thoughts. So, as to the question of a medium, I would say that consciousness is the medium for the thoughts (which incidentally comprise all physical reality, Plato's Ideal world, and who knows what else), and consciousness itself has no medium since it is fundamental. I see consciousness as the very bottom turtle in a finite stack of turtles. It is indeed "turtles all the way down", but there is a bottom turtle.

Oh, and by the way, in this picture it is clear that consciousness survives and will survive anything that might be called death, whether it is death of an organism, heat death of the universe, the "Big Crunch", or any other demise of some of the thoughts of the consciousness.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,


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