BenK64
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#1
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Can the totality of human experience be explained by purely physical factors? Or do you believe in dualism (combination of physical and ‘spiritual’)

I personally have a determinist viewpoint. With a more completed physics, we could explain everything about the nature of the universe, including consciousness and the ‘human experience’. All evidence points toward the brain being the sole generator of consciousness. When any part of the brain is damaged so is some part of the mind. There just isn’t a place for a ‘soul’ or mind that is in some way separate from the processes of the brain.
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jamesbarry17
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Yeah, I fully agree with you there. We haven't been able to empirically measure consciousness, and so dualist ideas will continue to exist. But the idea that consciousness (or the 'soul') is purely physical is not falsifiable, and it is the only idea that makes sense to me, assuming the validity of evolution theory.

But I don't really see that it makes a difference whether you believe the soul is physical or "spiritual". Because at the end of the day, we are all talking about the same thing; we are just explaining it in different words. Clearly, there is a fundamental difference between us and every other animal species and every inanimate object, and that difference can be called either 'soul' or 'consciousness', or whatever else people might call it.
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gjd800
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Consciousness as an emergent property. I don't buy into any other mumbo jumbo, really.

Re the above post, we aren't really talking about the same thing when we say 'soul' or 'consciousness', because 'soul' comes preloaded with ideas of immutability, permanence, immortality, incorporeality and so on. That's why its use is largely constrained to the religious.
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jamesbarry17
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(Original post by gjd800)
Re the above post, we aren't really talking about the same thing when we say 'soul' or 'consciousness', because 'soul' comes preloaded with ideas of immutability, permanence, immortality, incorporeality and so on. That's why its use is largely constrained to the religious.
Yeah but it depends what you mean by those things. Consciousness has immortality insofar as the human race exists, in the sense that everything we do, everything we are, will have an influence on the physical world that will never be erased until the universe (or at least this planet) ceases to exist. Obviously our consciousness, if an emergent property it is, will not physically exist after one's death, but its actions during its life will influence the future after our death, and so our spirit will "live on" in a sense. You know, my mother tells me she will always be with me after she dies; she will be "watching me from heaven". So you might say, "well that doesn't make any sense; you'll be dead and won't have any more influence on me and won't be able to physically see me". But will I forget her when she dies? Will I suddenly become the person I would have been had I never known her? No, the influence she had on me in the physical world will live on into the future, and my actions which have been influenced by her will then influence my children, and everyone else in the world in at least some sense. So her consciousness, her soul, will live on it a certain sense. And that's why I think "consciousness" and "soul" are just two different ways or describing the exact same thing.
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gjd800
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If it can be erased by something ceasing to exist, then it is by definition not immortal. Influence is not consciousness, this is all fanciful wordplay that ultimately means little. Her soul will not live on in any sense. Influence is not equivalent with soul. behave, man.
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jamesbarry17
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(Original post by gjd800)
If it can be erased by something ceasing to exist, then it is by definition not immortal. Influence is not consciousness, this is all fanciful wordplay that ultimately means little. Her soul will not live on in any sense. Influence is not equivalent with soul. behave, man.
It is immortal as long as we, humans, exist, though. How could spirit exist beyond human existence, when spirit is exactly that which makes us human? What would be the difference whether it existed or not, if we weren't there to see it?

And if what I said is just wordplay, then I guess that just goes to show the problem with language in expressing ideas. It seems to me that most people do not mean what they think they mean when they make religious claims. Or rather, they haven't actually thought about what they mean, and how that might link to the real world. There cannot be dissonance between religion and the real world, when religion would not exist if the real world did not exist. Religion is as real as anything. And so, when people make claims about the soul, or about God, they HAVE TO mean something real. There must be some real-world basis to their claims, or else it would make no sense for them to have ever been uttered in the first place. Sorry if you see this as off-topic.
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