Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, March 01, 2005  


John Derbyshire notes in a goulash column:

What on earth is consciousness? What is present in the universe five minutes after I have woken up in the morning, that wasn't present an hour earlier? What ceases to be present when I go unconscious, or die? "A field of consciousness," says Prof. Searle. So... what's that?

The Derb once wrote about his terrible fear that comes over him from time to time, "what if death is nothingness and I no longer am?"

That made me think about the time I had an operation on my throat. I'd never been anesthetized before. It occurred to me later that I'd had absolutely no consciousness during the operation. I might as well have been dead since everything that was me was snuffed out like a candle during that time.

But I've had a second thought about that. 1) I didn't die and wasn't dead. 2) I fell asleep and woke and was completely unaware of any interval of time. Thus I was never really unconscious to my self although I was unconscious in appearance to others.

I'm trying to say that time did not exist for me. Even though you could say my consciousness was entirely dead during the operation, it still came back to me. That wouldn't be possible if death was annihilation of being. And what could be more annihilating than total unconsciousness?

The fear, of course, is that the candle is snuffed out and never rekindled. But in fact it was never rekindled in me. The drugs wore off is all. I was never dead (snuffed out) although my mind might be said to have lost complete awareness which is identical to what we imagine death might be like.

Yet, as I said, it was no more than a dreamless sleep. And we know a dreamless sleep is no harbinger or simulcrum of death.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:30 AM |