Consciousness and Death

Death is a complicated, and disconcerting, thing that we must all eventually face in the end. After all, there is no escaping from the Grim Reaper, merely delaying his arrival. However, what if there is some way that death isn’t…… permanent? In today’s entry we’ll be discussing what death really entails for consciousness and the loss thereof.

When people often talk about “death” they often speak of an “eternal oblivion,” but such speak implies that there is an objective you to experience that eternal oblivion, when we all know that the very word “death” implies the cessation of existence, of nonbeing; nothing can experience the state of not existing because you don’t exist, it’s not a state you are in. This ties back into my earlier forays into discussing antinatalism wherein I explained how some of the arguments for antinatalism are flawed because they presuppose an objective you existing to experience nonexistence, see those other posts for more detail, linked above.

Death is more akin to a mere interruption in consciousness, a bit like sleep really, except that in the traditional naturalistic view of death you don’t wake up. However, with recent advancements in our understanding of nature, as well as technological advancements in the near future that could theoretically enable you to emulate entire human minds, that might not necessarily be the case.

Even if we don’t find a way to emulate entire human minds on computers there always exists the possibility of a Boltzmann brain, which is essentially a thought experiment revolving around how the universe we live in isn’t as chaotic as thermodynamics says it should be, and how the possibility of a single consciousness, or “brain,” arising from random quantum flunctuations is more plausible than the current phase of the universe we find ourselves in, which itself spends most of eternity in a state of thermal equilibrium. If true, this thought experiment holds enormous consequences, but that’s a topic for another time entirely.

It’s entirely plausible, indeed even probable, that over a long enough period of time something with the same memories and thoughts and feelings as you have will arise out of mere random quantum flunctuations, this being a Boltzmann brain, and without delving into the “swamp man” thought experiment of the late and great American philosopher Donald Davidson, is you for all intents and purposes, and henceforth you’d “wake up” from the incredibly long slumber that is death.

Hence, even if it takes a really long time to “wake up,” not even the grim reaper himself can hold on to you forever. So if the inevitable prospect of death frightens you, think of the bright side, for you will wake up eventually, even if it takes a long-ass time to do so.


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