Title

Nature of Disembodied Existence
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It is literally the idea that we are able to exist in some form without our bodies.

Do people have to have physical bodies to exist?

Is it possible for us to survive without bodies?

Swinburne – yes we can! If we can imagine a situation where we could exist without a body and if we can imagine it then it is a coherent concept.

Others who agree argue that we have an intuitive sense of being not the same as our bodies – we say that we ‘have’ bodies, not that we ‘are’ bodies, which suggests that we feel ourselves to be separate and distinct from the purely physical.

Some people see the body and consciousness as linked but distinct meaning that the consciousness might be able to exist on its town, without the body, once the body has died.

To accept the possibility of disembodied existence, we must believe that the core of our identity is a non-physical soul or mind.

If we are to claim that disembodied existence is a coherent concept, we are required to assert that our mental characteristics, perhaps our memory, is the key to our identity.

John Locke (1632-1704) saw it as a coherent concept and gave the story of a prince and a pauper who woke up in each other’s bodies. He argued that the reason why each of them knew who they really were was based upon their true memories of their previous existence. So, if I hypothetically was to leave my body, I could claim that I still existed, despite the death of my body, if I could remember ‘being me’ prior to death

H. H Price (1899-1985) attempted to answer the question of what exactly out existence after death would be like. He argued for the possibility that our mind may survive the death of our body and exist in a mental world. He likens the perceptions of the mind after death to the perceptions that we have in dreams however, unlike our dreams, these perception may be shared by other minds in this post-death world

Evidence

  • NDEs
  • ESP and mediums

Objections

It contradicts the findings of modern science as in our present forms we recognise each other by our physical bodies and scientists indicate that much of what makes us the people we are is rooted in our physical DNA

Brian Davies – just because we can conceive of ourselves as disembodied this does not make it an actual possibility as we can conceive of all sorts of things such as going back in time but it does not make it possible. He argued that those things which make us humans are linked with having a body, and that survival as disembodied entities seems impossible.

Hick criticises H.H Price, stating that there is an inconsistency between stating that our mental world after death is created by our desires and that this world is shared as our desires would be different to others and this would lead to a different world for each of us.

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