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