I keep having minor revelations concerning my personal esoteria - i.e. the work that I'm meant to be doing on player modelling for adaptive artificial intelligence in computer games, and the shadow-clad conceptually philosophic highwaymen that waylay my productivity, forcing me to Think on the questions that really serve no end to Think upon, at least in the short term.
Like recently I discovered a possible answer to a riddle that had long puzzled me: is there an afterlife, and if not, why does the human race have such a strong intimation that there is?
Now when I say answer, what I'm talking about is a pointer to a possible explanation, a pointer whose validity satisfies my cursory curiosity about the subject. Nothing comprehensive, nothing rigorously reasoned. Just enough to allow me to file the subject away, satisfied that I now have an opinion on it that I can trot out if faced with a fully formed opinion from someone whose beliefs source in a different faith (more on this later).
Awhile ago, a friend and I started to wonder if there was a link between conciousness, the active energy in our physical form, and the electromagnetic field of the earth. Could electromagnetism in a powerful localised field, such as that the earth generates, provide a substrate to support an abstract pattern that would represent an individual conciousness? Firstly, I think this could only work if the proponents of strong A.I. are correct that conciousness is algorithmic, and thus can exist in any phyiscal form as long as the complexity of the algorithm is supported. Secondly, it all seems rather simplistic. We have been studying the electromagnetic field (for a time as seperate fields) for well over a century, and there is no sign that anything special happens to it when a person (or hundreds of thousands of people) die. There's no evidence for transference, and thats what we need. Besides which, what about capacity and entropy issues?
No, its a poor explanation, and I was never happy with it (even on the rather tenebrous level on which I reason about existensial matters). But recently, I've been thinking a bit more about conciousness, and I came up with this:
Basically, it says that the self is related to, and embodied in, it's physical surroundings. Now this brings up the question of the nature of our surroundings, but I don't really think I need to address that here. What I'm talking about is the difference between the view of each consciousness as an independent entity, and the view that each consciousness is merely a facet of a much broader, context-dependent entity that must include what we call our physical body, our environment, other conscious entities and the subconscious ghost in the shell. Quite analagous to the Zen philosopihies. Although I don't believe to the same degree in the illusion of the self - individuation is not what we as individuals intuitively believe it to be, but I don't think that means that it's non-existent, after all individuation is what drives the universe (energy to do work, law of entropy, etc).
So, to be embodied is a prerequisite for conciousness. And embodiment could be an 11, or 6, dimensional state, if you listen to the string theorists. What aspect of conciousness, then, is tied to extra dimensional embodiment? What if there is a mental aspect tied into these extra dimensions that is related to our waking concious mind in the same way that extra dimensional physicality is related to our familiar four dimensions of spacetime?
Could a sentient entity be an energistic phenomenon stretched over these many dimensions, like a rubber band stretched around 11 fingers? And what happens if you withdraw four of those fingers? The band snaps back, to stretch between the remaining fingers. Could that process give us a pointer to the reality of a soul?
Hint of truth, or ramblings of an over-abundant imagination!?