NDEs: It still comes back to epistemology (Agnosticism)

by dhw, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 08:00 (648 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: Unless you’ve had first-hand experience, it all boils down to whether you believe that every story is a hoax, or the result of a delusion, in which case you will dismiss NDEs and every psychic experience in which people have acquired knowledge they could not have acquired under the prevailing circumstances. (I’m only interested in those stories where the acquired knowledge has been confirmed by witnesses.) Other people will believe the stories, and some of us will keep an open mind. But you need to know the stories before you make a decision!

xeno: This is exactly my problem: I've identified that I'm a pretty strict foundationalist when it comes to epistemology... which probably doesn't shock you given the years even forgiving my hiatus.
The problem with foundationalism is that since it focuses on a posteriori knowledge, it has a strong tendency to force people to exclude anything that might possibly be a priori, which to me explains precisely why the topic of NDEs and OBEs gets short shrift, veridical or not. This reckoning was long in the coming though, now that I'm a thoroughgoing Buddhist, *everything we do* is in the mind here, so what, am I to suppose that just because we don't have a physical explanation that tells us precisely what a thought *is* that we have to throw out all of the mind-dependent information we can process in our heads?
I appreciate you trying to bring it to the common-sense level, but I've got a more fundamental flaw that if not fixed, will continue to cloud my own 'common sense' as it were.

I must confess I’m struggling to understand the exact nature of your problem here. There are certain subjects concerning which we will never have “knowledge” – i.e. certainty that something is objectively true – unless there really is another world and a supreme being who can give us all the answers. In NDEs and OBEs, the letter E stands for experience. A posteriori = empirical, i.e. based on experience. If an NDE or OBE leads the patient or anyone else to a particular belief, that belief is by definition a posteriori. But in terms of epistemology that doesn’t matter two hoots, because in no way can the belief be called knowledge! In other words, you can adhere to as many –isms and -osophies and -ologies as you like, but it will all boil down to subjective belief. In some cases, people will call it faith.

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