Frames /sing


On the Eternity of the Mind and the Multiverse: 20 watts

There has been lingering dissatisfaction with Spinoza claim that some part of the mind is eternal and does not die, a diagnosis of his:

EV29 – The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.

Robert Lanza has a mediation on death and the illusions of time which perhaps helps position Spinoza’s claim, Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’. I’m not one for the New Age end of this nor loose appropriations of quantum physics, but the general scope of this kind of theorized eternity, combined with my own interpretation of Spinoza’s take of “mind” as information and organization fit well together (here on information and Spinoza: Information, Spinoza’s “Idea” and The Structure of the Universe). Einstein is invoked by Lanza, and of course Einstein was to some degree influenced by Spinoza:

Death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world. In the end, even Einstein admitted, “Now Besso” (an old friend) “has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us…know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Immortality doesn’t mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether.

I’ve discussed Spinoza’s thinking on the immortality of the Mind before: Spinoza, On The Immortality of the Soul, I think you can see the homology between Spinoza’s thinking and Lanza’s quantum depiction. At the very least we can see what Spinoza means, even if it is not granted.

10 responses to “On the Eternity of the Mind and the Multiverse: 20 watts

  1. Paul Bains December 10, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Stengers quotes this famous phrase in Power and Invention (p.41).
    Also it comes up in Prigogine’s ‘The End of Certainty’ (p.165).
    At the end of his life Einstein seems to have changed his mind.
    When Godel presented E with a cosmology in which it was poss. to return to one’s own past (taking seriously E’s statement that time was an illusion), E was not enthusiastic – he did not believe he could ‘telegraph back to his own past.’

    He even added that this imposs should lead physicists to reconsider the problem of irreversibility. In hte Besso quote irreversibility is nothing but an illusion…
    Of course, you can have your cake and eat it – postmortality and irreversibility. ‘Death is a biological fact: personal existence is not.’ (Crocco).

    • kvond December 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

      Honestly Paul, and I am not familiar with the dynamics of the quote in context, but I see no “returning” to your past or telegraphing in it? Where do you read this?

      • kvond December 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

        Or as I read it in Spinoza’s terms, when you die you do not “go” anywhere, or return back to anything. All of your “information” simply is preserved in the “phase space” in which it occurred (if you want to put it that way). In Lanza’s version, all the actualities are simply “still” happening, so to speak, in some fashion or another.

  2. Paul Bains December 10, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    you’re right, E initially sees time as an ‘illusion’ – he denies irreversibility in physics – but later he questions this (it’s E that ultimately questions the illusion of time).
    But as you say it makes no diff to postmortality which doesn’t exist in ‘the coursing of time’ (neither does mortality). We live inside the ‘intransformativity of the physical instant. Our memories are simultanaeous. But that would be for another time.

    ‘The basic fact of contemporary hylozoism is thus that persons appear as finitudes of full ontic consistency, causally interacting through a window between the situated, transformable situations, and an unlocatable or non-situable realm of intransformativity from where causation is exerted and, because of that, this intervalically instantaneous actuality transforms.

    Strangely, this might be what Plato, even if heavily conditioned by the Pythagoric-Parmenidean worldview, obscurely intuited when dictating for what became Timaeus 90a that persons are plants, not earthly, but rather celestial: fytòn ouk éggeion allà ouránion.
    They have inverted roots, not inside the soil, but rather as if their ontic sustenance would come from the mane, our hair thus staying the closest to the firmament or tópos ouránion.
    But Plato could never have seriously dreamt of locating such a celestial realm of ideas – one that is the firmamental, as an unyielding and securely established firmament productive of this “underworld” or everyday realm detected by means of the senses – inside the instant situation of a nature that vacates itself outside instantaneous actuality.’ Crocco.

  3. kvond December 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    “But Plato could never have seriously dreamt of locating such a celestial realm of ideas…inside the instant situation of a nature that vacates itself outside instantaneous actuality.”

    Kvond: I’m unsure of this. Or, I’m unsure of what one means by “vacates itself” and “inside the instant”. Instead, and Plato would agree I think, the instant actuality comes out of the “Chora” and the Chora is into that which all is rooted. This seems to be Einstein’s Spinozism as well.

  4. Paul Bains December 10, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    have to go now! but vacates itself means that there is nothing else but each instant then another – no past or future for nature. Inside the instant means that the instant is in fact an ‘interval’ – it is not instantaneous… has a certain ‘thickness’. The planck instant – inside of which time does not course.

    • kvond December 10, 2009 at 9:58 pm

      Sure. But nothing of this precludes reference to the entirity of these relations, in short, the Platonic Chora.

      • Mark Crosby December 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

        I don’t claim to fully understand it, but just skimmed James Bradley’s Whitehead article at (thanks to Paul for the INFLEXIONS link on your latest thread !) and Bradley’s article seems to offer a Whiteheadian explanation of “no past or future” while denying any “entirety of relations”?

        (I’m sure you’re not planning to pull an Alexei when you say “this blog is going to go through a bit of a change… may be a mere diminishment” ?)

      • kvond December 16, 2009 at 12:03 am

        Thanks for that. I may work myself towards it, but I”m not thrilled with Whitehead’s solution, and, as you might guess, prefer Spinoza’s totalizing monism which I suspect many people mis-read…

        As for the diminishment of the blog, I certainly will never delete it as Alexei chose, but I’ve tired quite a bit of blogo-dialogue that circulates in general, for what it is worth. I’ve got to take a trip to Thailand in January and some of Feb, so once it goes dark, it might remain so. I’m hunting for an aesthetic solution, a way for the blog to feed itself, along other lines, but we’ll see.

  5. elvis ckristian December 15, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I really want to be one of the students einstein, because I love physics and I idolized eisntein the grandeur and genius

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