December 16, 2012

567 Grams: Avicenna's Floating Man Argument And The Newtown Massacre

Abraham Lincoln believed in life after death, possessed psychic abilities, and famously dreamed about his own demise shortly before it happened. He is not alone. Philosophers, mystics, poets, and prophets all speak about the eternal life of the soul and the existence of a world beyond this one. 

Read this excerpt from Tai Carmen's article, "The Human Soul and The Floating Man":
"The 11th century Persian philosopher Avicenna devised The Floating Man thought experiment to demonstrate human self-awareness and the substantiality of the soul: he directed readers to imagine themselves suspended in mid air, isolated from all sensation. One would still have self-awareness in this scenario, he argues, and thus concludes that the idea of the soul is not logically dependent on any physical thing.

"In 1907, the ambitious Dr. Duncan Macdougall undertook an experiment designed to prove the existence of the soul, weighing patients before and after death. His results (though never replicated, and held in debate due to their anecdotal nature,) indicated that moments after death the patient lost a relatively consistent amount of weight. From his research Dr. Macdougall concluded that generally the human soul weighs around 21 grams."
I don't know grief because I have never lost someone close to me, but I have relied on my faith in God at certain points in my life. It is very important to have a connection to your spiritual side in these dark times.

Although I dislike the politicization of personal trauma and collective tragedy by self-interested politicians and their paymasters I still tuned into CNN tonight and I was moved while watching the interfaith vigil. It revealed what America is all about: a country with spiritual genius that respects diverse faiths and all of the world's religions. It is a remarkable thing.

Discounting the shooter, 27 souls perished in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, including 20 children. On Sunday night, President Barack Obama said:
"God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory."
Obama's words were powerful. It looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders when he walked into the room and took a seat. This guy might be a human after all (I still have my doubts).

Obama vaguely called for change in his remarks. But what does he mean by change? What kind of change? Who will it profit? How will it be brought about - by law, by popular consent, or by state violence? And how long will it take? These questions are still up in the air.

It is still very disturbing that the media doesn't talk about Obama's past. Obama's documented ties to the CIA are well known on the Internet, though. It is hard to trust a leader who is so secretive and vague about what he wants, and who hides his records from the public. What is he hiding? And what does he want to change? He should speak fearlessly about his vision for America or else people will read bad intentions into him (and they might be right about their judgment). 


To learn more about Avicenna's Floating Man argument, listen to the short clip below. YouTube video description [Channel - Gottfried Leibniz]:
Peter Adamson explains the thought experiment of Avicenna known as the 'floating man.'