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Energy and the mind

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  • Energy and the mind

    This discussion started as part of the [broken link]Did anyone see the movie Powder? thread in the Movies section by Lemec. We seemed to moving too far away from the original topic so I thought it would be a good idea to share it. Thoughts and opinions welcome. Here's the discussion so far:

    Originally posted by lemec
    I would like to discuss the posibility of the idea that people could use their minds to one day become pure energy discarding their bodies and becoming immortals by becoming sentient entities in the wind and every living things. It was sort of along the lines of the Organians from one of the original series Star Trek's, they left there primitive bodies centuries ago to become pure energy.
    Originally posted by EverKing
    You may find Tad Williams's Otherland series interesting as this is one of the driving factors to the plot.
    Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
    Originally posted by lemec
    I would like to discuss the posibility of the idea that people could use their minds to one day become pure energy discarding their bodies and becoming immortals by becoming sentient entities in the wind and every living things
    This is kind of what I believe about death. The consciousness (soul if you will) that is you is actually a form of energy. Instead of death being the end, it is merely a transistion between one form of existence to another.
    I'm sure that one day our decendants may evolve sufficiently to complete this process by will alone although it make take a few billion years. I think that we'll be able to use technology to accomplish the same goal in a shorter period of time. As well as EverKing's suggestion of the Otherland series, you might want to check out Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks also. It contains some interesting ideas about using technology to transfer the conscious to a different plane of existence.
    Originally posted by lemec
    If our "souls" so to speak are energy, maybe there is something to ghost stories after all. They could be people who were not powerful enough yet to go turn into something else, the residue might be floating around. Just a thought, since Halloween is coming up,hehe.

    Mayhaps an ancient race, like those of Atlantis,discovered this process and disappeared from the face of the Earth, or the Mayans?
    I've always liked to think of ghosts as echoes of what was, not as a trapped entity that is unable to move on. I think of it as a footprint left behind in the dirt by someone passing through. The footprint remains but the person is long gone. Although I could imagine some people wanting to remain just so they could scare the crap out of the living. Who says the dead have no sense of humour? :)

    It's entirely possible that an ancient race of people could have discovered a way to transform themselves into energy without using technology. Do Buddists not believe that a state of enlightenment can be achieved through meditation? Could this be the enlightenment they are referring to, leaving the physical world behind and becoming something completely different?
    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-08-2010, 11:13 AM.

  • #2
    If one chooses to believe things one reads in folklore books (and I usually do), there's a local "ghost" story about a horse-drawn carriage which "haunts" a road, despite the fact that no one actually died in a carriage along that road. It is believed that the "ghosting" was caused when a couple eloped to Scotland, much to the community's shock. So, it's not really a "ghost" carriage, so much as the psychic dent left in reality by a sudden event. If one chooses to believe such things. :)
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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    • #3
      Robert Holdstock deals with some of these issues in his Ryhope Wood novels, though he takes a Jungian turn with them, rather than a spiritual one. For those who have read the stories, I find the idea of bringing mythical archetypes to life and seeing their echoes in the "real" world to be quite compelling.

      With regard to the larger idea, conceptions of those possibilities abound in academic work from physics to philosophy. Einstein alluded to such, as did the American Pragmatists. For me, I have to believe that we are more than just the physical shell.

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      • #4
        I think the mind is pure energy in that matter is energy but I don't see how you could convert the mind in its entirety into 'free' energy. I think that our minds as we know them are controlled pretty much entirely by the physical pathways in the brain. But there could be some kind of an 'immortal (if anything can be immortal) soul'. I think it would be nothing like how we think at the moment, though. There would be no sense of conciousness.

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        • #5
          Hello, I am glad to see this thread has come alive. Those are very interesting thoughts.

          I do enjoy a good ghost story.

          I watched the Ghosts of Gettysburg on the History Channel, loved the one about the phantom brigade.

          This subject kinda creeped into my story. :)

          I am not really sure of a scientific fact that could prove the energy would leave the brain and continue on living in some form, but being that I am a fan of fantasy, I am willing to take a leap on it that it does turn into something else. ;)

          "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
          - Michael Moorcock

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          • #6
            Originally posted by HawkLord
            I think that our minds as we know them are controlled pretty much entirely by the physical pathways in the brain.
            This is pretty much true (from what I can remember from the odds and sods I've picked up about brain development in babies) so it would be quite difficult, maybe even impossible, to retain your sense of self once the energy left your brain. Perhaps if you are very strong-willed, you could create a kind of brain made from pure energy and maintain your consciousness using that. In the same vein, it could be possible to project your consciousness through something like the internet into say, a robot body. Something like a cross between psychic projection and VR.

            As for ghosts, I've only had one experience that could be considered a little bit paranormal so I've never been a big believer of hauntings. The number of tales about 'Grey Ladies' wondering the moors, old houses, etc. where I live has made me a little sceptical of a lot of them. However, they do make for some great stories sometimes. ;)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
              Originally posted by HawkLord
              I think that our minds as we know them are controlled pretty much entirely by the physical pathways in the brain.
              In the same vein, it could be possible to project your consciousness through something like the internet into say, a robot body. Something like a cross between psychic projection and VR.
              Ah but would that actually be 'you' as a pose to just something that thinks and acts like you? And, for that matter, what is the difference? If an android were to be made with the exact same neural pathways as you, then the only difference from you would be from the events that followed for it. This also leads to the question of robot sentience. If we create robots who can think for themselves, for example the robots Asimov describes, then they may act as if they have emotions. Does this mean they feel as we do?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by HawkLord
                Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
                Originally posted by HawkLord
                I think that our minds as we know them are controlled pretty much entirely by the physical pathways in the brain.
                In the same vein, it could be possible to project your consciousness through something like the internet into say, a robot body. Something like a cross between psychic projection and VR.
                Ah but would that actually be 'you' as a pose to just something that thinks and acts like you? And, for that matter, what is the difference? If an android were to be made with the exact same neural pathways as you, then the only difference from you would be from the events that followed for it. This also leads to the question of robot sentience. If we create robots who can think for themselves, for example the robots Asimov describes, then they may act as if they have emotions. Does this mean they feel as we do?
                An even better example may be from Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (with all apologies to Asimov).

                I would add, that regardless of neurology, our experiences are far more important in determining "who we are," and not just in an existential sense. Part of what I'm saying is that the wiring doesn't matter as much as what goes through the wires--especially in the form of memory of the past, perception of the present, and imagination of the future.

                Dewey, Thomas, Mead and others who define American Pragmatism anticipate this discussion when they argue that the definitive characteristic of human consciousness is its ability to recognize itself in the present, the past, and the future.

                For whatever its worth...

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                • #9
                  Re: Energy and the mind

                  Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
                  Do Buddists not believe that a state of enlightenment can be achieved through meditation? Could this be the enlightenment they are referring to, leaving the physical world behind and becoming something completely different?
                  Not really, as Enlightenment is beyond existence and non-existence, which means no 'becoming' in other words (but also no 'non-becoming'!) However - Buddhist cosmology certainly contains some immaterial states of existence where beings manifest as pure energy. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/d...oka.html#arupa
                  \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doc

                    An even better example may be from Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (with all apologies to Asimov).
                    Very true. That book is very relevant to this discussion.

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                    • #11
                      I really think the questions that Dick asks in that novel are still very relevant, and will remain so. The fundamental existential questions that we sometimes, I think, fear are far easier to ask in a fictional setting. Perhaps they're more accessible, too. In class, I can ask a question about the nature of consciousness or the nature of existence and have people look at me blankly, but ask them about the central themes of Blade Runner, especially as they relate to Sean Young, and they're ready to talk. I've given up hope that many of them have read Dick.

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                      • #12
                        Cheers for the info Mikey!

                        The movie Dark City also asks some of those existential questions. Are we just the sum of our experiences or is there something more to it than that? Are we born to act the way we do or are we merely a product of our environment?

                        I enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the questions that it posed. Despite all the programming, the androids were still not human. There was just something missing.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
                          I enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the questions that it posed. Despite all the programming, the androids were still not human. There was just something missing.
                          Yeah, that aspect really hit me hard when I read the book. Its like, going through you begin to sympathise, like the main character, with the androids, but then finally you get to the end and see that really all they are is programming. Pretty depressing but it is a very relevant issue at the moment. We have to seriously think about rights of robots, and just what it is that makes our brains brains, and what makes us 'human'. Would robots be as separated from us as animals? For that matter, how far from us are animals really? We like to think we are on a whole different level to them, but how true is that?

                          Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is one of my favourite stories by Dick because of the bleak but important questions it raises.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HawkLord
                            Originally posted by spaced_moorcock
                            I enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the questions that it posed. Despite all the programming, the androids were still not human. There was just something missing.
                            Yeah, that aspect really hit me hard when I read the book. Its like, going through you begin to sympathise, like the main character, with the androids, but then finally you get to the end and see that really all they are is programming. Pretty depressing but it is a very relevant issue at the moment. We have to seriously think about rights of robots, and just what it is that makes our brains brains, and what makes us 'human'. Would robots be as separated from us as animals? For that matter, how far from us are animals really? We like to think we are on a whole different level to them, but how true is that?



                            Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is one of my favourite stories by Dick because of the bleak but important questions it raises.
                            Interesting view Hawklord, I really need to get a copy of that book, I saw it once, but did not buy it, I'll have to go and get that and some other ones and catch up on my reading.

                            I often think that we are just a bunch of animals, we just happened to develope our thinking mechanism more than the other beasties. Most animals did not need to develope higher brain power because they have no way to apply it to aid in their survival, they don't have hands and the ability to really shape the world. That does not explain apes however. In the end humans are above the animal kingdom because of our complex emotions and social behavior. There is really no logical reason for us to have emotions other that instinct. That said, there must be something special about humans. Also, we are born with a basic sense of morality, otherwise civilization would have never occured, we would be savages running around trying to live to the end of each day while other humans with no conscious would go around killing each other, not that still does not occur, but it occurs after some humans reason it out or have an experience that over-rides their basic kindness to their fellow man. :)

                            What I really wonder is, how the organisms developed so they needed to eat plants and animals for food. Why did not we form like plants that get their nourishment from the sun and soil? It is a strange thing if you really think about it that animals and people need to kill life so they can maintain their own life.

                            Imagination is there as our greatest tool and I think if there is a thing such as evolution, that tool expanded for mutual benefit so all humans could live as long as they could and survive on the planet. That must be where emotions and other thoughts spring from.

                            We as humans accept things in nature to be the natural way, but if you think about it, here is another mystery, how did the cells of our body's know to develope a reproductive system? How did the cells know that the body is mortal? It can't be trial and error or from experience because if the cell died, it was dead for good, so what mystical force created the notion of reproduction? Who is programming our genes and DNA? ;)

                            -Lemec

                            "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                            - Michael Moorcock

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                            • #15
                              I've been thinking about ghosts and spirits in a different way recently (with a little help from my dad). We happened to be watching a movie about time travel when he mentioned that he would like to be able to travel back in time and be an invisible observer, protected by some force bubble.

                              This got me thinking about a few of the theories of time travel that suggest that we do not actually exist but are in fact a computer simulation of the past. Instead of travelling in time, the owners of the computers would use these to experience first-hand what a period of history was like. But what if these observed just wanted to be that, observers? Reports of supernatural experiences could be attributed to malfunctions or glitches in the simulation that allowed us to observe the observers.

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