Persons, Souls and Death

A Philosophical Investigation of an Afterlife

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About the Book

Awareness of mortality is the price of intelligent consciousness. This book argues that a person is essentially an immaterial subject of conscious states who, though intimately linked by causal ties to the body, is nevertheless distinct from it. The book also examines apparently paranormal occurrences supporting the belief that some persons have survived bodily death. Cases of near-death experiences, apparitions, reincarnation experiences and mediumship phenomena are presented and discussed. Though it might seem contrary to natural law for a person to exist apart from a body and properly functioning brain, these cases suggest otherwise. Critical evaluation of alternative interpretations is provided.

About the Author(s)

David H. Lund is professor emeritus of philosophy at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota. He is enjoying his retirement on his farm in northern Minnesota.

Bibliographic Details

David H. Lund

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3487-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5311-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

INTRODUCTION      3
The Perennial Question      3
A Philosophical Approach      6
The Influence and Scope of Science      9
The Coherence of the Idea of Post-Mortem Existence      11
The Relevance of the Case for Theism      16
The Nature of Persons and the Laws of Nature      19

Part I: Persons, Bodies, and the Possibility of Post-Mortem Existence

THE CASE AGAINST POST-MORTEM EXISTENCE      23
Antecedent Probability of Extinction      23
Empirically-Grounded Support of Extinction      23
Theory-Based Arguments for Extinction      25

MINDS, SOULS AND PERSONS      29
Materialist-Reductionist Accounts of the Mental      29
Materialist Theories of Personal Identity      32
The Immateriality of the Mental      35
Psychological Theories of the Person      45
The Person as Subject of Conscious States      47

MENTAL-PHYSICAL RELATIONS      63
The Causality Problem      63
Mind-Brain Interaction      65
Causation Conceived as Reducible      67
Causation Conceived as Irreducible      69
Deep Causation      70
The Directionality of Causation      71
Intentional Causation      71
Dualistic Causation and the Causal Closure Hypothesis      74
Mental-Mental Causation      76
Paranormal Causation      78
The Causal Independence of the Conscious Self      83

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS SUPPORTIVE OF POST-MORTEM EXISTENCE      90
Theism and Revelation Accounts      90
The Deep Unity of the Self      92
Non-Intentional Consciousness and the Self      96

Part II. Ostensible Evidence of Post-Mortem Existence

OUR INVESTIGATION SO FAR      101

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES      104
Death-Bed Visions      104
Non-Terminal Near-Death Experiences      108
Naturalistic Explanation of NDEs      112
Paranormal Theories: ESP and Super-ESP      118

APPARITIONS      129
Reciprocal Apparitions      132
The Naturalistic Interpretation      135
Paranormal Interpretations of Apparitions of the Dead      136
Collective and Iterative Apparitional Experiences      137
The Super-Psi Hypothesis      142
The Telepathic Theory      144
The Objectivist Theory      146
The Survivalist Explanation      151

REINCARNATION      153
Reincarnation vs. Possession Interpretations      154
Cases of Responsive Xenoglossy      156
Spontaneous Recall of Ostensible Former Lives      159
The Shanti Devi Case      161
The Case of Jasbir Jat      162
The Case of Swarnlata Mishra      163
Naturalistic Explanations      167
The Fraud Hypothesis      167
Cryptomnesia      168
Paramnesia      169
Inherited Memory      170
Paranormal Explanations      170
The Psi Hypothesis      171
ESP Plus Impersonation      173
Reincarnation and Survival      177
Reincarnation and the Subject of Conscious States      178

MENTAL MEDIUMSHIP      181
The Mediumship of Mrs. Piper      182
Mrs. Willett’s Mediumship      189
Proxy Sittings      194
“Drop-In” Communicators      195
The Cross-Correspondences      199

CONCLUSION: ASSESSMENT OF THE CASE FOR POST-MORTEM EXISTENCE      204
Overview of Our Investigation into the Essence of Persons      204
Dispositions and the Self      207
Sensory Experience in an Afterworld      208
Discarnate Communication      210
The Significance of the Ostensible Evidence of Survival      211
Super-Psi or Survival?      212
The Balance of Probabilities      215

Chapter Notes      219
Bibliography      227
Index      231