Consciousness makes us self-aware, that is how an individual consciously knows and understands one’s own character, motives and desires. When waking up from a deep dreamless sleep one’s memory instantly informs us who we are. Memories are constantly recorded in our material brain. They are not always accurate and false memories can be created, they can also be changed or wiped out through accidents, disease, or mental problems but is the only information we have about our “self”. We found out that memory is totally dependent on the material brain by examining brain-damaged patients (Studies by Paul Broca), people suffering from mental illness, babies born with mental deficiencies and by observing the slow deterioration of awareness in patients suffering of Alzheimer’s disease. Rene Descartes’ Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), links self-awareness directly to the material brain as well.
When we contemplate that consciousness is separate from the material brain, as in mind-body duality, or is an independent feature of universe, as in panpsychism and that the brain needs this external force to create the self -awareness, we must realize this phenomena needs the information of the memory stored in the material brain to create one’s “self”. The obvious conclusion is that when the material brain is destroyed or died, so is the self-awareness no matter whether one looks at any definition of consciousness, ruling out any afterlife awareness.
I have seen some “philosophies” who deny the logical conclusion by arguing that this awareness is somehow recorded in a soul which therefore contains the information (data) to become aware after death.
I see some real problems with that, what about babies, brain damaged people, mental illness, retardation, Alzheimers’ victims and so on. I have seen some “explanations” which are obviously not very logical such as babies grow up in heaven and all mental deficiencies are repaired, everyone will be obtaining a lifetime equivalent of mid-thirties. If you have a logical explanation about the above mentioned dilemmas please let me know.
This is not a reason or attempt to deny the existence any God or religion, nor any of the philosophies regarding consciousness or even the existence or not, of heaven or hell. It is simply pointing out that the current knowledge shows that individual self-awareness after death, is unlikely.