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Old 08-07-2008, 04:13 PM
 
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Starting with the assumption that agnostics and atheists are not inclined to believe in an afterlife--Is there anything real that survives death? I read the following idea in Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop" --The author, whom I believe is an agnostic, lost his wife at an early age. He was grief-stricken, but found comfort in the idea that she still existed as memory traces in his brain, as well as in the brains of many other people she had known. In this way "she" (and all the rest of us too) existed as a sort of "reality" in the minds of others, and as such continued to exist, at least until everyone who remembered her was also gone.

I suppose you could say this is the basis for Woody Allen's famous comment "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve immortality through not dying." But Hofstadter actually posits a real part of the person in some sense existing in the minds of others.

So...is there any logic to this, or is it just Hofstadter's personal coping mechanism? If it's purely a comforting belief, can you still argue that it is neural tracings, thus it has a reality??
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Old 08-07-2008, 06:15 PM
 
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I'd say not or yes but in a purely metaphorical sense. Memory is a fragile thing. It can be lost or unwittingly twisted into something else and in any case people may just remember the side of you that you wish to show.
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:30 PM
 
2,955 posts, read 6,926,094 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mozart271 View Post
Starting with the assumption that agnostics and atheists are not inclined to believe in an afterlife--Is there anything real that survives death?
This may be my favorite question yet.
I don't have a great argument for why memories = reality but I also think that memory is the only way that people survive after death. I know exactly who Mozart is, and I know that he was a real person. That's far longer survival post death than most people get. I don't know if the memory of Mozart will ever die. Does that mean he has everlasting life? Dunno.
What about Mozart's music? It's possible that his memory could die with the human race but his recordings survive. Some future being may find them and then know who Mozart is. Does that mean that Mozart lives again? Sort of. But I still don't know if that counts as real.

I don't have this problem personally but some people seem to need to think that the thought of not existing is a sad, depressing concept. Some people are driven to have a lot of kids or chase fame to make sure that their memory "lives on". I don't think that it's healthy to chase everlasting life in any form. Death is definitely real. And almost everybody will be completely forgotten forever at some point. It seems best to not strive for "everlasting life".
Still, I wouldn't want to live in a world that doesn't have Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
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Old 07-17-2012, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Texas
5,070 posts, read 9,350,364 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b. frank View Post
This may be my favorite question yet.
I don't have a great argument for why memories = reality but I also think that memory is the only way that people survive after death. I know exactly who Mozart is, and I know that he was a real person. That's far longer survival post death than most people get. I don't know if the memory of Mozart will ever die. Does that mean he has everlasting life? Dunno.
What about Mozart's music? It's possible that his memory could die with the human race but his recordings survive. Some future being may find them and then know who Mozart is. Does that mean that Mozart lives again? Sort of. But I still don't know if that counts as real.

I don't have this problem personally but some people seem to need to think that the thought of not existing is a sad, depressing concept. Some people are driven to have a lot of kids or chase fame to make sure that their memory "lives on". I don't think that it's healthy to chase everlasting life in any form. Death is definitely real. And almost everybody will be completely forgotten forever at some point. It seems best to not strive for "everlasting life".
Still, I wouldn't want to live in a world that doesn't have Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
I believe his music will live on, but not Mozart, himself. I just recently heard music when he was just a kid, and I was blown away. Geniuses like him don't come around very often. Oh, BTW, that music I mentioned was just recently discovered.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Texas
5,070 posts, read 9,350,364 times
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I believe this was the new music that was recently found.
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Old 07-18-2012, 02:37 AM
 
Location: Washingtonville
2,505 posts, read 2,116,334 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mozart271 View Post
Starting with the assumption that agnostics and atheists are not inclined to believe in an afterlife--Is there anything real that survives death? I read the following idea in Hofstadter's "I Am a Strange Loop" --The author, whom I believe is an agnostic, lost his wife at an early age. He was grief-stricken, but found comfort in the idea that she still existed as memory traces in his brain, as well as in the brains of many other people she had known. In this way "she" (and all the rest of us too) existed as a sort of "reality" in the minds of others, and as such continued to exist, at least until everyone who remembered her was also gone.

I suppose you could say this is the basis for Woody Allen's famous comment "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve immortality through not dying." But Hofstadter actually posits a real part of the person in some sense existing in the minds of others.

So...is there any logic to this, or is it just Hofstadter's personal coping mechanism? If it's purely a comforting belief, can you still argue that it is neural tracings, thus it has a reality??
There is actually another way we continue to exist. I suggest you check out the book titles, 'The Secret Life of Dust' by Hannah Holmes. It is a great book that explains how everything is in a constant state of decay. This decay is where we get dust. There is a veil of dust floating high in the sky enveloping the whole earth.

So, it is likely that their is a spec of dust that was once a skin cell belonging to Mozart.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:45 AM
 
16,877 posts, read 19,605,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raison_d'etre View Post
There is actually another way we continue to exist. I suggest you check out the book titles, 'The Secret Life of Dust' by Hannah Holmes. It is a great book that explains how everything is in a constant state of decay. This decay is where we get dust. There is a veil of dust floating high in the sky enveloping the whole earth.

So, it is likely that their is a spec of dust that was once a skin cell belonging to Mozart.
There is, of course, one person whose cells are living on. Her cancerous cells that is. HeLa cells are responsible for many of the advances in treating disease and in fact, were instrumental in testing Salk's polio vaccine. Henrietta Lack was a black woman treated in the 1950s for cervical cancer whose cells were harvested without her knowledge for a scientist who was just beginning to keep cells alive in the lab.

Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life « Rebecca Skloot

Quote:
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn
40,051 posts, read 31,803,269 times
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Years ago, a friend told me an unusually long joke involving Mozart. Suffice it to say that it centered around the belief that he was still alive, and a worldwide search to find him. But one lead after another turns out to be false, and they're steadily losing hope that they'll ever find the man.

Finally, the searchers are given a clue that leads them to the Pyramids in Egypt. As they make their way through a dark and narrow tunnel, they hear the unmistakable sound of a piano being played. They break through a door to find...Mozart. They ask him what he's been doing all these years, and he replies (hold onto something sturdy)...

"I'm decomposing."
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