The Idealist View of Consciousness After Death

Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 7 (11):900-909 (2016)
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To make educated guesses about what happens to consciousness upon bodily death, one has to have some understanding of the relationship between body and consciousness during life. This relationship, of course, reflects an ontology. In this brief essay, the tenability of both the physicalist and dualist ontologies will be assessed in view of recent experimental results in physics. The alternative ontology of idealism will then be discussed, which not only can be reconciled with the available empirical evidence, but also overcomes the lack of parsimony and limited explanatory power of physicalism and dualism. Idealism elegantly explains the basic facts of reality, such as (a) the fact that brain activity correlates with experience, (b) the fact that we all seem to share the same world, and (c) the fact that we can’t change the laws of nature at will. If idealism is correct, the implication is that, instead of disappearing, conscious inner life expands upon bodily death, a prediction that finds circumstantial but significant confirmation in reports of near-death experiences and psychedelic trances, both of which can be construed as glimpses into the early stages of the death process.

Author's Profile

Bernardo Kastrup
Radboud University (PhD)


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