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Thread: Mortality is a matter of belief, not of fact

  1. #1 Mortality is a matter of belief, not of fact 
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    Speaking with strictest empirical precision, noone knows that they will die -- until it actually happens.

    We are taught that people are mortal, and the we infer that since those who seem to be of our kind die, that we will die too.

    We then orient our life in accordance with that belief and its implications.


    It is not impossible that our mortality is due to the self-fullfilling prophecy of the belief that we are mortal.


    (Imagine we grew up somewhere seeing no death: Would we consider ourselves mortal? We'd have no reason to, and we'd be immortal.)


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  3. #2 Re: Mortality is a matter of belief, not of fact 
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    Quote Originally Posted by water
    Speaking with strictest empirical precision, noone knows that they will die -- until it actually happens.
    This would be incorrect. All the empirical evidence (defined as "capable of being confirmed, verified, or disproved by observation or experiment") indicates that we are indeed mortal. It would be a denial of such evidence to insist that we are not.

    You don't have to be taught this fact of mortality, it is a simple observation. Throughout history there have been many people who thought that they were immortal for one reason or another who are no longer around.

    ~Raithere


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    Raithere,


    This would be incorrect. All the empirical evidence (defined as "capable of being confirmed, verified, or disproved by observation or experiment") indicates that we are indeed mortal. It would be a denial of such evidence to insist that we are not.

    You don't have to be taught this fact of mortality, it is a simple observation. Throughout history there have been many people who thought that they were immortal for one reason or another who are no longer around.
    You're right, that would be incorrect. But there is no such thing as simple "observation". An elephant can observe other animals die, but will the elephant conclude that it is mortal, will it anticipate its own death?
    Imagine a feral child raised by wild animals: Will this child think it is mortal, will it anticipate its own death (other than due to being killed by an animal or lightning)?
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  5. #4 Moot question? 
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    Since, speaking with the strictest empirical precision, there is no reliable way to accurately verify that you exist, doesn't it seem rather extraneous to worry about whether or not you really die?

    In the September, 1944 edition of Weird Tales, Ray Bradbury published a story called, "Bang! You're Dead!" If you ever come across it (reprinted in a hardcover edition ca. 1976, ed. Peter Haining, as well), give it a read.
    "A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not." (Perdurabo)
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    Question: When one denies his own death (as a self-defense mechanism (Freud)) does one know he is going to die? Ergo, is he who believes to be immortal really afraid of dying, and thus knowledgable of death and his own death?

    Mr U
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  7. #6  
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    i thought about this for a while. my view kind of goes along with yours. except for the fact the it is statistically impossible for you to die. you simply just fade into lower states of consciousness, or live forever.

    you plainly can't experience a reality when you are dead (excluding the "after life"). and in every situation where you could possibly die, there are a certain set of probabilities in which you will not die. you could avoid the tragedy altogether, or be horribly maimed, but you won't die, your strand of consciousness remains intact. if you do die, you simply stop experiencing that line of reality, but continue on with one in which you don't. so your brain continually degrades as you reach into impossible lifespans and you fade into oblivion, or you run across a reality in which life extending therapies maintain you indefinitely.

    is that the nut of that Clarke story?
    i found my calling today. it was in my pocket.
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    so your brain continually degrades as you reach into impossible lifespans and you fade into oblivion, or you run across a reality in which life extending therapies maintain you indefinitely.
    Your brain doesn't necesarily have to deteriorate, not if you use it. Not if you don't fill it with superstition, not if you maintain a well balanced diet & excersise. I've seen an 86 year old man run a 26 mile merathon, an 90 year old lady swim the equivelent of 3 miles, these old folkes brain were not at all deteriorated, fact is there active lifestile is what has kept them healthy.

    Each year that we live we get closer, to having science prolong our lives, eventually through science someday people will live well over hundred years.

    The goal is to find "biological immortality", lets kick ethics on its ass and find ways to live longer.

    http://imminst.org/book1/

    The above site are some of the thoughts and findings of todays scientists who are searching for the quest of biological immortality.

    Godless
    Don't count your money while your sitting on the table.
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  9. #8  
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    small glitch about immortality, folks. to be immortal you'd also need an immortal planet, no?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esoterik Appeal
    except for the fact the it is statistically impossible for you to die. you simply just fade into lower states of consciousness, or live forever.
    Isn't this a matter of definitions?

    Also, why does Zeno's seemingly-irrelevant marathon runner dash through the shadows of my mind? Maybe it's a similar conflict.

    But, since I had to go look it up and make sure whose paradox it was, I might as well pass along this delightful blog entry I came across while Googling.
    "A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not." (Perdurabo)
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    It just so happens, Water, that the very episode of The Family Guy that considers this question is on Adult Swim this evening. Replaying at the moment, in fact.

    <blockquote>• TV Tome. "Episode Guide: The Family Guy #48 (3ACX13)". See http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet...8/epid-110012/ </blockquote>
    "A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not." (Perdurabo)
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiassa
    It just so happens, Water, that the very episode of The Family Guy that considers this question is on Adult Swim this evening. Replaying at the moment, in fact.

    <blockquote>• TV Tome. "Episode Guide: The Family Guy #48 (3ACX13)". See http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet...8/epid-110012/ </blockquote>
    Too bad, am in Europe, with no direct American television.
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  13. #12 Curiously enough .... 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water
    Too bad, am in Europe ....
    Is there divinity in irony? Is there irony in the divine?
    "A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not." (Perdurabo)
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  14. #13  
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    Each year that we live we get closer, to having science prolong our lives, eventually through science someday people will live well over hundred years.

    The goal is to find "biological immortality", lets kick ethics on its ass and find ways to live longer.
    ben bova wrote a great book on this subject, but the name escapes me at the moment. i think it might simply be Immortality.
    i found my calling today. it was in my pocket.
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  15. #14 Re: Mortality is a matter of belief, not of fact 
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    Quote Originally Posted by water

    We then orient our life in accordance with that belief and its implications.


    It is not impossible that our mortality is due to the self-fullfilling prophecy of the belief that we are mortal.


    (Imagine we grew up somewhere seeing no death: Would we consider ourselves mortal? We'd have no reason to, and we'd be immortal.)
    I dont know about immortality. I think it would suck, but I do suspect that most of what we consider to be facts are so, because we believe they are so. I think that beliefs maintained through consensus especially have a lot of power. Simply, if you believe you are limited in some activity that belief limits you by maybe making it so you dont try to go beyond that limit. People always come back to the idea that no matter what you believe people just can not fly!! in our dream reality though, we have no reason to believe we cant fly and so .....shrugs.. who knows. could be we are mostly limitless if we could somehow drop our beliefs in limits.
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    8)

    Quote water:
    “Speaking with strictest empirical precision, noone knows that they will die -- until it actually happens.”

    empirical
    empirical [em p*rrik’l, im p*rrik’l] adjective
    1. based on observation and experiment: based on or characterized by observation and experiment rather than theory
    2. MEDICINE based on practical medical experience: based on practical experience in the medical treatment of real cases rather than on applied theory or scientific proof
    3. PHILOSOPHY derived solely from experience: derived as knowledge from experience, particularly from sensory observation, rather than from the application of logic

    * Taking no. 3 as the agreed definition, I agree. Derived from non-dead sensory experience.

    Quote water:
    “We are taught that people are mortal, and the we infer that since those who seem to be of our kind die, that we will die too.
    We then orient our life in accordance with that belief and its implications.
    It is not impossible that our mortality is due to the self-fullfilling prophecy of the belief that we are mortal.”

    * Are we taught, or do we realise through direct experience that nobody we know seems to live past a certain age? Why would we think ourselves to be different, and not die? What experience would motivate that mode of thinking?

    Quote water:
    “(Imagine we grew up somewhere seeing no death: Would we consider ourselves mortal? We'd have no reason to, and we'd be immortal.)”

    * In trying to visualise this scenario, the Jungle Book comes to mind, with Mowgli growing up in the jungle in the company of animals. On aging these animals would die, and Mowgli having no other humans to compare himself with, would surely consider himself an animal. By his direct experience of seeing animals die (his close friends) would he not infer that he too will die? His understanding of death would be limited to be sure, but why would he doubt his own mortality?

    Allcare.
    Sorrow floats
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  17. #16  
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    Stretch,


    (What happened to the -ed? Have you been so stretched that the -ed got lost?)


    * Are we taught, or do we realise through direct experience that nobody we know seems to live past a certain age?
    Yes, we are taught by experience. I use "teach" rather broadly.


    Why would we think ourselves to be different, and not die? What experience would motivate that mode of thinking?
    The most obvious seems -- apart from mental illness (whatever that is) -- a great idealism mixed with sci-fi.
    It is otherwise not so rare that a group of humans thinks themselves to be completely different than others. Nazis, racists, religious fanatics, those who claim to be aliens or to have been visited by aliens ... These people deem themselves to be, in one way or another, essentially different from other, "usual" people. I find it possible that a group of people with a certain philosophical persuasion would deem themselves to be immortal.

    And let's not forget Cris: he believes that he will somehow avoid to die.


    * In trying to visualise this scenario, the Jungle Book comes to mind, with Mowgli growing up in the jungle in the company of animals. On aging these animals would die, and Mowgli having no other humans to compare himself with, would surely consider himself an animal. By his direct experience of seeing animals die (his close friends) would he not infer that he too will die? His understanding of death would be limited to be sure, but why would he doubt his own mortality?
    We can just speculate, really. It would be mind-boggling to know how animals perceive death. It seems they should be able to distinguish between a live and dead animal – even if the living animal is immovable.
    But hyenas, for example, would start eating off a living animal, not killing it. Big cats kill before they start eating. It would be interesting to know whether a lion or a cheetah would start eating a tranquilized animal. Elephants watch a dying fellow and chase away any predator that would come and want eat off the slowly dying elephant.

    As for aging: There are few old animals in the natural environment; few animals die of old age. Disease finishes off an animal relatively quickly (usually a matter of weeks or even days, depending on species and disease); otherwise, they fall prey to other animals, kill being probably the primary way to die. Death in nature is a lot different than death in human society.


    * * *

    VossisArts,


    I dont know about immortality. I think it would suck, but I do suspect that most of what we consider to be facts are so, because we believe they are so. I think that beliefs maintained through consensus especially have a lot of power. Simply, if you believe you are limited in some activity that belief limits you by maybe making it so you dont try to go beyond that limit. People always come back to the idea that no matter what you believe people just can not fly!! in our dream reality though, we have no reason to believe we cant fly and so .....shrugs.. who knows. could be we are mostly limitless if we could somehow drop our beliefs in limits.
    Yes. The belief in limitations is imposed on us by the environment, both social and natural.
    I wonder if this could somehow be avoided.


    * * *

    Ad . hoc,


    small glitch about immortality, folks. to be immortal you'd also need an immortal planet, no?
    Yes! But who knows, maybe the planet is immortal, it's just that we are stuck in the belief that it is mortal.


    * * *


    HomoUniversalis,


    Question: When one denies his own death (as a self-defense mechanism (Freud)) does one know he is going to die? Ergo, is he who believes to be immortal really afraid of dying, and thus knowledgable of death and his own death?
    Mortality and immortality are concepts that exist relationally to each other; if one is present, the other one is present as well. So that Freudian twist is justified.


    * * *

    Tiassa,

    Since, speaking with the strictest empirical precision, there is no reliable way to accurately verify that you exist, doesn't it seem rather extraneous to worry about whether or not you really die?
    Erm ... If an entity asks "Do I exist?", the possibility of asking such a question demand that that entity exist, or it would be impossible to ask any question.

    Otherwise, since we are making literary suggestions – "A predicament" and "The premature burial" by E.A. Poe ...
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  18. #17  
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    Yes. The belief in limitations is imposed on us by the environment, both social and natural.
    I wonder if this could somehow be avoided.


    * * *

    Ad . hoc,

    I think so definately. Ive been considering this and even working with it since i was in highschool almost 20 years ago. I had and have a friend from back then who has been kind of the center or icon for this whole project. To look at him at a glance, very average in all ways..but his self confidance is supreme., its perfect. Or maybe it would be better to say he has some mastery over " no self-doubt". Ive watched matt for years pick up brand new things, and excell at them IMMEDIATELY, and its because he doesnt let a even a glimmer of doubt shadow his unbending belief that he can do anything, that he already knows how do whatever he choses to do. Especially when it comes to things like gaming but not even close to exclusively.. I watched him throw darts for the first time beating everyone in the pub that night. Same for billiards. same for ultimate frisbee, same for cart racing, same for buillding elevators, going to tech school, picking up the hottest women, raising a child.. he masters everything, and its because he has no doubt.
    Ive watched him and over the years have practiced his way and it works for me almost miraculously well playing classic guitar for instance. I can read advanced pieces and play them the first time i see them.. not masterly but amazingly. I just have convidence in it that is unspoken. granted ive played guitar for a lot of years.. im not comparing my experience to matt's at all.. The most success ive had with "no-doubt" has been in gemstone carving. I first got into it about 5 years ago and 2 years after i started i read a book on lapiday carving by the ultimate authority on the art. Henry Hunt listed about 7 gem minerals that were suitable for intricate carving. by that time i had carved 30 different types of minerals successfully, including sapphire, labradorite, emerald, aqua marine, you name it. No one ever told me i couldnt carve this or that because of this and that reason and when i read it the first time i just said bullshit. i hold stone together with my mind and confidance that i can do exactly what i want to to the extreme. feel free to go to my carving pictures archive site and see what i mean. I just finished carving a netsuke like skeleton out of quartz. http://www.msnusers.com/VOSSISTCARVINGS/(actually i think youll have to copy and paste this address to directly to my pictures page. dunno why)
    i think the key is to avoid letting in any sort of doubt at the most basic level of consciousness. Even a flicker of doubtful adrenaline can taint the whole experience whatever it is. If youve ever read those weird old castenada books, i kind of think what im talking about might be comparable to using intent perfectly. im not sure. Its all vague to me no matter and i dont have near the natural self control my friend matt does, but I am aware of how having "no-doubt" about things enhances success in them tremendously. shrug
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    Hi water,

    The "id" got stretched so far, the "ed" found itself on the brink of infinity, thus I lost it due to optics and Newton. But in reality I lost the original nick Stretch, when I forgot my password on SciForums, and had to return as a "stretched" version of myself. Hehe.

    Quote water:
    "I find it possible that a group of people with a certain philosophical persuasion would deem themselves to be immortal."

    * Such as Christians for example.

    Quote water:
    "Death in nature is a lot different than death in human society."

    * So in your view man does not fall within the context of nature?

    Quote VossisArts:
    " think the key is to avoid letting in any sort of doubt at the most basic level of consciousness."

    * Is the key to human survival not carved by "doubt"?

    Allcare.
    Sorrow floats
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  20. #19  
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    Stretch,


    The "id" got stretched so far, the "ed" found itself on the brink of infinity, thus I lost it due to optics and Newton. But in reality I lost the original nick Stretch, when I forgot my password on SciForums, and had to return as a "stretched" version of myself. Hehe.
    A-ha. And I wondered -- I saw "stretch" on SF as well.


    "I find it possible that a group of people with a certain philosophical persuasion would deem themselves to be immortal."
    * Such as Christians for example.
    Yes, but they have a very specific understanding of that. Not merely a prolonging of life infinitely, with this same body.


    "Death in nature is a lot different than death in human society."
    * So in your view man does not fall within the context of nature?
    Hm? It is safe to say that humans view death in a specific human, social way, and that this way is based on observation of death as it is not common in nature; at least not common anymore. (Death by killing isn't the most frequent kind of death.)


    " think the key is to avoid letting in any sort of doubt at the most basic level of consciousness."
    * Is the key to human survival not carved by "doubt"?
    But doubt in what?
    Some doubts are productive, some are constructive.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote water:
    "Yes, but they have a very specific understanding of that. Not merely a prolonging of life infinitely, with this same body."

    *`K. But humans would inevitably see their kin age and die. What possible philosophy would lead them to believe, they would live, even as their grandfather is dying? Alchemy and the "philosophers stone" may contain a hint of this thinking. Even though it is clear that the "philosophers stone" was in part a spritual concept.

    Quote water:
    "But doubt in what?
    Some doubts are productive, some are constructive."

    * I think doubt is a healty way of ensuring a greater succes rate. The more you doubt, the more certain you need to be or the more you need to test ideas before action. Making ships to cross the oceans, were based on ships that stuck around the coast. When certainty eventually outweighed doubt, man attempted to cross the ocean. Perhaps if the balance of doubt were different we would consider our universe ending on the shore of our birthland. With succesful endeavours confidence would speed up the process, but only where healthy doubt was applied.

    Allcare.

    (it seems stretched will be making a comeback back home )
    Sorrow floats
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