A chat with Jeffrey Mishlove on postmortem survival

Jeffrey has been thinking about postmortem survival and wanted to discuss the implications of various physical theories for this question.

2 thoughts on “A chat with Jeffrey Mishlove on postmortem survival

  1. Hello Dr. Kastner,

    I hope you don’t my leaving a comment on a post that’s more than a year old.

    I’m rather curious as to how postmortem continuity of consciousness can be accomodated by quantum physics. On the one hand, people like Henry Stapp, Bernard Carr, and yourself put forward that modern physics cannot be deemed to preclude it. On the other, a great many, such as Sean Carroll, Lawrence Krauss, and Avi Loeb, are adamant that it is entirely impossible and even ridiculous.

    I would also enjoy reading your opinion concerning the fact that several of the fathers of quantum mechanics seemed to be idealists, as exemplified by Planck asserting with confidence that consciousness is primary, and James Jeans claiming that the universe looks like a great thought (which reminds me of medieval philosophers for whom the universe was God’s thought). Was their thinking impeded by the lack of advanced technology that we have today? Were they too “mystical” for their own good?

    Thank you in advance for any nuggets of wisdom.

    1. Hi J-P, thanks for your question. Of course a lot depends on one’s metaphysical commitments. A scientist committed to materialism will naturally view this as impossible. The urge to ridicule the idea enters when one assumes that one’s metaphysical preferences (e.g. materialism) have to be fact and that anyone entertaining a different metaphysical picture has to be wrong. Arguably, that is an unscientific viewpoint, since it evinces an uncritical commitment to untestable assumptions. It also founders on the ‘Hard Problem’ of consciousness. I prefer to keep an open mind, and although I don’t consider myself a committed idealist, I think it’s a mistake to assume that “the brain creates consciousness”. This seems to me to be the same mistake as thinking that a radio creates music. If we smash a radio with a hammer, the music will stop. But that doesn’t mean that the music originated at the radio–it’s simply inaccessible to us. Similarly, if we destroy a person’s brain, we see no evidence that any consciousness remains. But that does not mean that consciousness originated with the brain. Best,RK

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