Perspectival Awareness and Postmortem Survival
Citation of Original Publication
STEPHEN E. BRAUDE, Perspectival Awareness and Postmortem Survival, Journal of Scientifi c Exploration, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 195–210 (2009), https://www.scientificexploration.org/docs/23/jse_23_2_braude_2.pdf
Reprinted from “Perspectival Awareness and Postmortem Survival”, Journal of Scientific Exploration, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 195-210, published by the Society for ScientificExploration, http://www.scientificexploration.org
Critics of survival research often claim that the survival hypothesis is conceptually problematic at best, and literally incoherent at worst. The guiding intuition behind their skepticism is that there’s an essential link between the concept of a person (or personality or experience) and physical embodiment. Thus (they argue), since by hypothesis postmortem individuals such as ostensible mediumistic communicators have no physical body, there’s something wrong with the very idea of a postmortem person, personality or experience. However, critics can’t simply beg the question and assert that physical embodiment is essential to personhood, personality, or experience, because the evidence suggesting survival is a prima facie challenge to the contrary. On the other hand, defenders of ostensible mediumistic communication need to explain how postmortem awareness and knowledge of the current physical world can occur without a physical body that experiences the world and represents it accurately enough to ground veridical postmortem reports. This paper will fi rst consider why survivalists face potentially serious problems in trying to make sense of apparent postmortem perception. Then it will consider a plausible—and arguably the only—way to deal with the issues. However, that solution turns out to be a double-edged sword. Ironically, the best way to deal with the problem of perspectival postmortem awareness may render the survival hypothesis gratuitous.