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Soulless Sleep

I was thinking about death and how much I don’t want it. I pondered what it would be like to be dead. Of course, if you believe in a wholly material universe, the answer to asking what being dead will be like is “Mu“. Being dead isn’t like anything because there is no consciousness to experience death. This is so outside our experience (by definition) that it’s frightening to contemplate.

Yet, I thought, it isn’t truly outside our experience because we lose consciousness every night when we enter dreamless sleep. All conscious experience ceases.

Then I pondered what this would mean if we had a soul. As a Mormon, I was taught to believe that my spirit existed before I was born. I had an existence before this life where I reasoned, loved, made choices, learned, and so on like I do here. If this is true, what happens to that spirit when I lose consciousness? Why must that eternal spirit sleep while its physical body sleep? Why does the physical body have power to extinguish the spirit’s capacity to experience and reason and learn while the body sleeps? Surely if the spirit had those faculties before having a body, then those faculties shouldn’t depend on the state of the body.

Perhaps the way I believed before was too simplistic. Perhaps there could be a spirit within me which has an experience entirely independent and inaccessible to my body’s consciousness. Or perhaps the soul has no role in my ability to reason, remember, experience, etc. Occam’s razor applies here. I should be very reluctant to multiply extra entities to explain a phenomenon which has a simpler explanation: I have no soul.

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  1. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 1, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

    When you sleep, you do not lose all consciousness. You dream on and off, and some persons learn to do so quite consciously — lucid dreaming. Lower levels of consciousness (what we call “subconscious” and “unconscious”) continue to function, and I see no clear distinction where one ends and the other begins. While I identify most with my conscious self, there remains an extent to which subconscious and unconscious aspects are part of me. Indeed, take this a step further and wonder, how do I distinguish between the unconscious aspect of my anatomy and its surrounding environment? We are open systems.

    As we experience a lower level of consciousness while sleeping, so perhaps we could say that we experience a yet lower level of consciousness before and after our mortal lives. To what extent is an adult human conscious? To what extent a child? A non-human animal? A plant? A rock? It is not obvious to me that consciousness ends abruptly anywhere along the spectrum. To the contrary, consciousness appears to be emergent as elements are organized in increasingly complex ways. I hope for a day when I, as a neohuman, can look back at my current consciousness and smile with new knowledge that I was hardly conscious as a mortal human — indeed, not much more than a rock, the dust of the Earth.

    Before and after our mortal lives, there were and will be patterns in the environment leading to and from our mortal life. Those patterns are embodied in the time and space of our world (and perhaps countless others). Those are my spirit. I don’t know how much consciousness, if any, we can or should ascribe to them, yet I expect they will prove sufficient for the resurrection of the dead.

  2. C. L. Hanson said,

    September 2, 2007 @ 12:53 am

    Your spirit keeps thinking about things, it just forgets about having done it just as you’re waking up. Just like the way you don’t remember the pre-existence. See? So simple… ;)

  3. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 2, 2007 @ 6:45 am

    :) I wonder why we would need to forget our thoughts during sleep. What purpose could such a veil of forgetfulness serve?

  4. MoHoHawaii said,

    September 3, 2007 @ 8:19 am

    Here’s an analogy I use.

    Suppose you are writing in letter in a word processor and the power goes out before you have saved your work to disk. The letter is gone. The distinction between hardware (the machine) and contents of the machine’s memory (the letter being written using a word processing program) is clear.

    When the hardware that houses my memory, personality, ability to play the piano, etc. melts, I expect the same kind of loss.

    Until we invent sufficiently advanced backup technology to save the wiring chart of our neural structures (and restore that information by creating another biological entity with the same neural structure or in a mechanical simulator), we can’t be said to have a soul.

    In any case, it boils down to information and mechanism.

    I”m not thrilled about the prospect of my demise either. I think the issue is that people think they are more important than they are. I’m just a piece of a very large biological system. This system does not revolve around me.

  5. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 3, 2007 @ 8:39 am


    I realize that not all brain function ceases in sleep, but the higher cognitive abilities do. If the spirit has these powers innately (as is the common LDS view), why should they cease during sleep?

    As open systems (I like how you put it), why do we even hope for the continuation of an individual identity that doesn’t really exist? We are only apparently separate, and our own death is only change for the much larger system.


    The more I think about this, the more I agree that the system doesn’t revolve around us as individuals. This is a difficult transition from believing that the universe was created specifically for the human family and that we had celestial parents who would take care of us.

    While I agree with Lincoln that who we are ripples and echoes even after our death, I agree with you that whatever makes us us is lost when the lights go out. Death is an irreversible process.

  6. Christopher Bradford (Grasshopper) said,

    September 3, 2007 @ 8:51 am

    Death is an irreversible process.

    … so far?

    Could it be that we might discover how to reconstruct someone from the ripples and echoes?

  7. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 3, 2007 @ 11:51 am

    Some contemporary Mormon perspectives do not reflect the ideas expressed by Joseph, such as spirits experiencing only in the abstract, and spirits being less empowered without bodies.

    Why do we hope for continuation of individual identity? Well, why do you hope for anything at all? You do not choose your desires, except within a context of deeper desires of which you are not yet aware, which in turn is embedded within aspects of the environment of which you are not aware, in potentially infinite regression. I cannot say why we desire. I can say we DO desire, and all morality stems from that — law is to a community as desire is to an anatomy. Why should we hope for perpetuation and exaltation of our identities? Because it is, in large measure, the moral thing to hope for.

    We become that which we worship.

  8. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 3, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    Oh, and, for what it’s worth, I’m confident that death is a reversible process. It’s an engineering problem — a very difficult one. So long as the data is retained in some form or another, no matter how complex or dispersed, we need only sufficient technology to read time and space like a massive hard drive. Skepticism in this matter is not so different from these . . .

    Of course, I recognize I could be wrong . . . but I’m not. ;-) An important class of truths depend on our faith in their possibility before they become actual. This possible truth, I suspect, may be one of that class.

  9. mel said,

    September 4, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

    But why would we want to obsess about such an engineering problem when the universe has virtually limitless possibilities? Doesn’t the desire to return to ape-form — no matter how grand the imagined super-ape traits — doesn’t this represent a kind of obsession with self? A worship of self and now?

    Just because we simply cannot easily imagine anything better than some fantasy about perfecting what we are doesn’t mean that we have to make it our only hope.

    Imagine for a moment that at death you cease to exist. Life becomes intensely meaningful in this moment. You are free from cares about that which you know nothing of …

  10. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 4, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

    I guess I’m open to the possibility of reversing death, but there is little hope for those who die and decompose before that happens or before we have a way to preserve all the information which constitutes their mind. Each passing moment after death disperses that information farther and farther. There comes a point when I don’t belief an infinitely advanced civilization could reconstitute that information.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the deep nondeterminism of quantum mechanics ensure that we are doomed to failure if we attempt to start from the present state of the universe and determine the past? Once enough nondeterministic processes have occurred since the moment of your death, it would seem impossible to reconstitute your information with any reasonable degree of confidence.

    Our desires are informed by what we know. If you know that exercise will lengthen your life, you might have a greater desire to exercise. When we realize that our self is an illusion, our desire for its continuation might fade. Like mel, I am not sure that I want immortality.

    I’m interested to hear why, Lincoln, you think the desire to perpetuate yourself is moral.

  11. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 9:29 am

    Hi mel.

    While potentially infinite (and hopefully so), the possibilities presented to us always stem from our present. We now exhibit traits peculiar to the trajectory of our ancestors, their ancestors, and so on. No matter how long we survive, we will be exaltations (or degenerations) of that which we are now and were in the past. In other words, you can only affirm or negate what you have called your “ape-form” desires. Even the will to escape what you have identified as “worship of self and now” is one of your “ape-form” desires. Freud might have called it your death drive, and it is so very human. Our future, if we have one, is not altogether distinct from our present. It is a neohuman future, reflecting our neohuman gods.

    Also, for what it’s worth, I think you do us a disservice when you denigrate our form. We are more than apes, despite our common ancestry. This is not a matter of arrogance. It is a matter of information complexity and capacity. The apes simply are not equipped to become the sort of beings that humans are equipped to become. Furthermore, to the extent we have a moral duty not to be arrogant toward apes, it is a moral duty that stems from our exceptional capacities. We simply do not expect the same magnitude of moral behavior from apes, and for good reason.

    You implied at the end of your comment that the meaning of conscious existence is intensified when life is shortened. Is that what you tell a friend when you learn she is preparing for suicide?

    Meaning depends utterly on perpetuation of identity in some form or another, to some magnitude or another — even if not conscious. Where there is absolutely no perpetuity of identity, there is absolutely no meaning. Where there is less perpetuity of identity, there is less meaning.

    For millenia, our ancestors have been impotent toward death. To compensate, we embraced death in ways that would, at least, give us psychological power over it. That was all we could do. Times have changed. The exponential advance of human technology has brought us to a time when, assuming trends continue, many persons now living will be able to choose whether or not to die of old age.

    As, I imagine, you would not tell your suicidal friend that meaning is intensified when life is shortened, so we should not advocate such an idea generally, to the extent humanity has a choice.

  12. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 11:50 am


    Resurrection is not the sort of thing we can disprove (except perhaps if we are in a finite system and achieve omniscience, but . . . well, who knows what that means). Resurrection is not, on its own, a falsifiable hypothesis. We may be able to disprove various proposed implementations of resurrection, but that does not disprove the hypothesis generally. So long as we love our dead, faith in resurrection will persist. Moreover, as I’ve mentioned before, resurrection is the sort of hypothesis for which faith (of the active sort) may make all the difference because it may be the sort of thing we must create.

    Although there are some theories (such as Omega Point and simulation backups) about how we might produce a resurrection, I think we should recognize that a civilization capable of producing a resurrection would have already traversed its technological singularity and thus, definitionally, would have knowledge and power that you and I cannot imagine — not merely because we have not been creative enough, but because with our current anatomy we CANNOT be creative enough. With that sort of epistemic humility in mind, take a look at the list of techno-skeptic quotes I linked you to previously.

    On the subject of individuality, I hope you recognize that it is an illusion (or delusion) only to the extent that you are dogmatic and disillusioned. The same is true of God. We (at least most of us) experience individuality. THAT is what individuality is. It exists definitionally. The same is true of God. To borrow an idea from Shakespeare, my experience of God, by any other name, is as divine.

    Why do you want to live today and tomorrow, Jonathan? Why would it be immoral to try to prevent you from doing so? Extrapolate from your answers to those questions and you will have something approximating my answer to the question of the morality of life extension.

  13. cybr said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

    You are free from cares about that which you know nothing of …

    Why bother exploring the universe, or the subconscious, or unconscious then. It is human nature to want to know that which we know nothing of. Whether the universe includes god or not. Whether there is life on other planets or not. Whether there are other planets outside of our solar system or not. Whether we have an extended existence or not. I don’t think that these are futile pursuits until we can prove that they don’t exist. You seem so bent on making believers prove that these things exist. How about proving they don’t exist. And saying, “if there is a god, may he/she/it strike me down now” doesn’t prove anything to me other than mockery. I may not agree with your belief that there is no higher power, but I’m not purposefully trying to mock it. And in essence that is the contemptuous feeling I get from a majority of atheists.

    In support of Lincoln and the reading time and space like a massive hard drive, is not the fourth dimension time? Once proper technology is developed could we not possibly measure particle travel as we do in three dimension? This could possibly lead to reading history and peoples’ thoughts from a new perspective. The movie AI had a similar idea in the end scene. It might not seem so far fetched. Then possible, god being god would already have such ability as already claimed to perceive time both forward and backward.

  14. mel said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

    Why bother exploring the universe, or the subconscious, or unconscious then.

    Simply because there’s a profound difference between exploring the unknown (and piecemeal incorporating it into the known) and acting as if you already know … which is what I meant by “caring about that which you know nothing of …”

  15. mel said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 1:51 pm

    Hi Lincoln,

    Our future, if we have one, is not altogether distinct from our present. It is a neohuman future, reflecting our neohuman gods.

    Please take note that I was not speaking of the existential spectrum of the human race as a whole but of the individual. What you say may be true of the species and your insight about the possible lack of future is no less real than the certainty that going far enough into the past would yield something we would not recognize as human or even living. At what point does a thing change enough to qualify as distinct? We are in the long-run a transient phenomenon. This is only much more apparent at the individual level. No amount of insistence about some dogmatic view of a perpetual human-god continuum can be proven. It is pure speculation and woefully susceptible to athropocentrism as you reveal with the following …

    I think you do us a disservice when you denigrate our form … The apes simply are not equipped to become the sort of beings that humans are equipped to become.

    I think I do not denigrate but affirm our connection and place based upon what we actually know. To say that other forms of life are “not like us” is to deny our connection and our place. We do not know what the human race is equipped to become any more than we know the potential of any other species.

    You implied at the end of your comment that the meaning of conscious existence is intensified when life is shortened.

    This is a misunderstanding. I mean only that the meaning of life is intensified when you know it will end and have no knowledge (or delusion) of anything beyond. I think we’ll need to ignore your use of the suicide analogy based upon this clear misunderstanding.

    Meaning depends utterly on perpetuation of identity in some form or another, to some magnitude or another — even if not conscious. Where there is absolutely no perpetuity of identity, there is absolutely no meaning. Where there is less perpetuity of identity, there is less meaning.

    That’s an interestingly rigid and unfounded formulation. I don’t agree that perpetuation of identity is a requisite measure of meaning. Maybe you could spell-out the specifics of why you thing this is so … though I seriously doubt that you will be able to make your case without an appeal to some faith claim. My thought is that meaning is totally independent of time and space and therefore of perpetuated identity. Why should what I am now in any way be diminished by time and space?

    In summary, you’re telling me that I’m denigrating and debasing human life to utter meaninglessness by not embracing some conception of perpetual and exalted human life. This is unfortunately short-sighted. I say that this idea of yours is a non sequitur derived from a stubborn embrace of religious and/or philosophic dogma.

  16. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

    Thanks for the response, mel.

    Based on the implied assessment of my character at the end of your comments, I think we’ve started out poorly, perhaps because of an aggressive tone in my previous post — if so, sorry. We can do better. In that spirit, moving along . . .

    Whether individuals can perpetuate their identities may be, in the end (so to speak), decided entirely by our faith — and not merely faith in the passive sense used by some religious persons, but rather the kind of faith that moves a person to act. I haven’t claimed that the possible perpetuity of identity can be proven, nor will I do that now. However, I do intend to persist in that faith, and I do intend to persuade others of the practicality of that faith — both for pragmatic reasons. If that is dogmatism and anthropocentrism then I am dogmatic and anthropocentric, as charged. :-)

    When we equivocate between humans and apes, the inaccuracy denigrates both humanity and apes. Although we have common ancestors and similarities in numerous aspects of our being, there are also significant differences. Looking at history, we do know (as well as we know anything) that humans have been equipped for that which non-human species on Earth have not been equipped, and we do have reason to project related trends toward increasingly dramatic future differences (although humans may choose to enhance non-human animals). Humans are more informationally-complex than apes, have developed technology that influences our evolution and that of apes more than does our common biology, and have developed ethical systems that motivate us to value apes in ways they do not and cannot reciprocate. Indeed, ape-level cognition is incapable of esteeming apes to the degree that human-level cognition is capable of esteeming apes.

    Regarding the meaning of life, I do not think the suicide analogy is inaccurate or reflects a misunderstanding. To the contrary, I think it clearly illustrates a problem with the idea that accepting a shorter existence somehow makes that existence better. In my experience, finitistic and nihilistic perspectives have not intensified meaning. Finitistic perspectives have certainly changed my net present value calculations (to use a financial analogy) and therefore changed my investment decisions toward quicker consumption. Is quicker consumption the same as intensified meaning? That’s not how it worked for me. To the contrary, quicker consumption led me to a nihilistic perspective, wherein net present value calculations became meaningless. Why should we assume there is a necessary end to our existence? Why not assume there are ways to perpetuate and enhance our existence? Both are faith positions relative to which our faith may well make a difference.

    Meaning does not exist independent of persons. Persons do not exist independent of identity. Identity does not exist independent of perpetuity. Thus, meaning does not exist independent of perpetuity, and if there is no perpetuity then there is no meaning. The argument is valid, and I believe it is sound. I think the premise that you disagree with is the last one: identity does not exist independent of perpetuity. You suggested that identity exists independent of time and space (and would therefore exist independent of perpetuity). I cannot imagine what that means. Please explain.

  17. Jonathan Blake said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 6:17 pm


    While I suppose we might hope for some as yet unseen mechanism for resurrection of long dead ancestors, but it seem that it will be a matter of faith and hope for a while. I am more hopeful for the humans of the (near?) future.

    Individuality, like so many things, is purely definitional and arbitrary. We experience individuality because we’ve evolved a sense of individuality which helps us to defend those parts of the universe which are most vital to support the transmission of our genes.

    It is easy to define “me” to include only my body, for example, but as you said, we are open systems. “Me” could just as easily include much more than just my body. Realizing that “me” doesn’t exist in an absolute sense has comforted me somewhat in the face of death.

    I’m not sure I quite understand your answer regarding the morality of immortality. Perhaps my first problem is that morality isn’t a coherent concept as far as I can tell. But granting that infringing the life of another is generally immoral, I don’t see the leap to saying that wanting immortality is the morally right thing to do.

  18. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 6:44 pm


    I agree that resurrection technology, assumed possible, is largely a matter of faith and hope (for humans) at this point. The first step, to which you alluded, is life extension and human enhancement, at which time we should be better equipped to consider the complexities of resurrection — and other challenges of greater magnitude.

    While I agree that individuality is complex, I don’t think there is much value in the idea that you do not exist as an individual. For all practical reasons, you do exist as an individual. We simply need to investigate the nature of individuals rather than assuming that either they must exist according to our preconceptions or they do not exist at all.

    Let’s say morality is congruence between anatomical desires, individual wills, communal laws and environmental laws. To the extent there is incongruence or conflict between these, there is immorality. Given this perspective, the morality of immortality is judged based on an assessment of desires, wills and laws. I want to be immortal. That’s my individual will. Currently, that will conflicts with the desires of my anatomy — “desires”, here, is used broadly to describe all anatomical causes. This incongruence between my will and desires is one form of immorality. It is evil. Congruence can be achieved by changing my will or desires, or both. Historically, humans have not had the option to change their desires to become congruent with their will for immortality. We are now approaching that option. In any case, until the incongruence between these is resolved, there is immorality.

  19. mel said,

    September 5, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

    Lincoln, I value your honest opinion and thoughts and whatever evidence you can provide to back them up … this above all, and I hope you won’t hold anything back for fear of offending. I certainly won’t.

    I wish you the best in your pursuit of faith, though I suspect you estimate its connection with reality far beyond what is justified and I wonder about what seems to be a misguided belief that faith-based action is sufficient for truth.

    When we equivocate between humans and apes, the inaccuracy denigrates both humanity and apes.

    Equivocate? You have either read too much into what I have said, or do not understand the meaning of the word. Maybe a little of both?

    I do not think the suicide analogy is inaccurate or reflects a misunderstanding.

    This is because you apparently see non-belief in a pre/post existence as a kind of suicide … a shortening, as you also put it. No surprise since you’ve also made clear that you’ve bound the only meaning of life you find acceptable to your hope of a pre/post existence. Anything less you call “nihilistic” and “finitistic” and inducing consumerism (btw, look up the words. You’ll find that nihilistic does not accurately describe my position as a non-believer in resurrection, pre/post existence, etc).

    This is an unfortunately negative response to the simple truth of what we actually know about life. It hasn’t been my experience. And I suspect that for most it’s a bit more complicated than a simple reaction to non-belief in or non-hope for religious dogmas regarding immortality. In fact, I recall the phase “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”, which was used to deride those who lack faith in an afterlife. For me, this turns out in retrospect to been more about serving the faith than accurately describing the truth. In truth, most of those who I see burning this life up as if it were just a roadside party are those who place undue trust in the hope of an afterlife and a savior — whether it be for heaven, hell, or somewhere in between.

    You suggested that identity exists independent of time and space (and would therefore exist independent of perpetuity). I cannot imagine what that means. Please explain.

    I did not exist before this life. I will not exist after death. It’s the only view that is supported by evidence. How does this diminish the meaning of my life in between these boundaries in space and time? My meaning is no less diminished than that of a sun which is born, lives, and dies … never to be seen again but spread throughout the universe in vastly different forms. It’s good enough for the universe so why should we humans require eternal life to validate our meaning? You’re the one making the claim about the necessity of perpetual identity to support meaning. In light of this special pleading I really thing you’re the one who needs to explain.

  20. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 6, 2007 @ 8:21 am


    Your first post criticizes my character (“short-sighted”, “stubborn”, etc.). Your second post criticizes my intelligence (“misguided”, “look up the words”, etc.). Please adjust your tactics and focus on the ideas. You do not know me well enough to make useful criticisms of my character or intelligence, and your assumptions about me are getting in the way of improving mutual understanding.

    I have not claimed that faith-based action is sufficient for truth. I have claimed that there are a category of truths for which faith-based action is necessary.

    When one believe’s that faith can make a difference, it follows that one should recognize lack of faith (in desired ends) as a weakness. Indeed, in matters of life and death, lack of faith becomes the sort of weakness that may kill — a passive suicide, like willfully remaining in front of an oncoming train.

    I did not claim that nihilism accurately describes you. I claimed that nihilism once described me. However, I doubt you can present a non-nihilistic basis for meaning that does not depend on perpetuity of identity, at least to some extent. However, as mentioned at the end of this post, I am not sure we are talking about the same thing when we use “meaning”.

    You claim that you did not exist before this life, yet in the very least you existed as a pattern of potential. You claim that you will not exist after this life, yet in the very least you will exist as a pattern of consequence. It is inaccurate to assert, as you have, that these claims are all that is supprted by evidence. Lack of evidence is no evidence at all.

    Prior to each scientific discovery or technological breakthrough, most persons do not see evidence for them. It is not until just before the discovery or breakthrough that a few persons begin to see evidence, whether it was there all along or not. As one of many examples, numerous persons insisted that humans would never fly, yet we now do. Why? We now fly because (among other reasons) some of us had faith in the idea (again, faith was a necessary but not a sufficient cause).

    You appeal to a star as an example of meaning. You say it ends up spreading throughout the universe in vastly different forms, and that is sufficient for meaning. I agree. I agree because there is at least some perpetuity of identity implied in your description. Future persons capable of entertaining thoughts about meaning may yet be able to trace back through time, from effects to causes, to the life of that star and contemplate its part in the whole of time and space. There is meaning there. There is endurance. So long as our time and space endures, or its consequences endure in other times and spaces, that star has a place and significance. If it ever ends, if the effects of that star play no role, it might as well have never existed. Indeed, it did not. For all practical purposes, a star with no consequence never existed. It is meaningless to think it did. The meaning of that star, however, is not so great as a complex intelligent being that manages to survive and act in the world. Of course, I do not know for sure whether we will manage to do that. Moreover, I do not know for sure whether I have the meaning posited for the star in the former paragraph. A moment from now, it may be as if I never existed. I know I have something to philosophize about now. There is existence now. Is that meaning? What is meaning? Maybe we’re talking about different things.

  21. mel said,

    September 7, 2007 @ 10:08 am

    Lincoln, is it possible that you’re taking things a bit too personally? Yes, I’m needling you, but only because I think you need it. And this not based upon knowing you but simply on the face value of words you’ve written. Feel free to continue in kind.

    I think one the greatest enemies of truth is the fear that drives polite respect for ideas which excuses and empowers the people who transmit them.

    As for the meaning of life, what Carl Zimmer says … should you care to get a taste of what evidence (not the absence of evidence) suggests.

  22. Lincoln Cannon said,

    September 7, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

    Hi mel.

    Contrary to your claim, you’ve not taken my words at face value. You’ve read into them what is not there, without apparent serious consideration of what is there. I’ve worked more to explain inaccuracies in your restatements of my posts than to explain my posts. You’ve written more assurances that you understand than persuasive demonstrations that you understand. You suggest that I need character and intelligence criticism (“needling”) from you, yet you’re not in a position to provide either with utility. I’m not asking you to be polite (although I think that’s in your interest). I’m asking you to criticize, as politely or impolitely as you wish, the ideas that I’ve written rather than your assumptions about the character or intelligence of the person writing the ideas. Idea criticism is what you’re in a position to provide with utility.

    Regarding the “taste of what evidence suggests” (this phrase communicates to me a condescending attitude), I enjoyed reading it — particularly Clelend’s perspectives. Thank you for linking me to it. Is there something specific about it that you would like to call to my attention?

  23. mel said,

    September 7, 2007 @ 5:07 pm

    Clearly you feel abused and I am guilty of coaxing you on in this conviction, though not for being obtuse as you claim. I think I’ve been somewhat perceptive and take your defensiveness as a positive sign.

    I believe that there’s a fallacy behind this notion that ideas and personality can be clearly demarked. After all, when we converse we are seeking to understand not only the ideas but the person, and the ideas are often the most promising evidence we have to go on. You may disagree with my assessments but the fact that you seem to dwell primarily on the possible personal inferrences of what I’ve written suggests strongly to me that you are more concerned with protecting yourself than your ideas.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article as I had hoped you would based upon your comments regarding meaning, the meaning of life, and the diversity of ideas.

  24. Green Oasis » Mindful of the Moment said,

    September 18, 2007 @ 10:29 am

    [...] Ebonmuse provides a nice counterpoint to the idea that meaning lies in eternity with Eternal Moments. I want to point this out in light of our recent discussions on the subject. [...]

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