Death and Delay (Metaphysics) – Matthew Gosselin
The topic I will be discussing has resonated with me for a long time, and was ignited during our class discussion when Mr. Jackson talked about the man waiting to be hanged. The man believed that the rope had broken or failed, and rushed home to his wife and family. He talked with them for a long time and had just taken his jacket off when the world went black. In this moment, the man had lost his life to the noose that was so long ago in his mind. The moments before death have held much controversy over the years, and I set out to find a few answers for my own satisfaction of curiosity. Possibly for the better, I have instead simply increased the level of interest I have in the topic. It is happily implied that the journey was taken without having to, “pay the ultimate price,” as I am still here to write the assignment.
My main topic was the thought process experienced in the moments before cessation of thought process and an explanation of how or why. These were the three questions that I deemed worthy of a response to cover a decent portion of the topic.
- What occurs scientifically in brain activity in the moments before death?
- What have people said to have experienced during the time of cardiac arrest?
- Could this lean towards a method of thinking about self or Being?
The source I found credible to explain my inquiry was: In Dying Brains, Signs of Heightened Consciousness
- Unfortunately, it is difficult to conduct an experiment such as this on humans, and as such there is not enough scientific knowledge to answer the question in full. However, the source has conducted an experiment measuring the brain activity of rats during cardiac arrest. For a period of time, the rats showed a heightened sense of brain activity in the low-gamma waves. These waves have been tied to a sense of conscious perceptiveness, such as memory and recognition. This was speculated that it could have been induced by the lack of oxygen or simply a natural reaction of the brain as it recognizes the limited amount of time left.
- Many sources (including the one linked) have referenced that people who have undergone cardiac arrest have returned with proclamations that line up with the rat experiment. They have said that they are able to hear conversations, see the clinical room around them, or even return to their families. Unfortunately, this is where the lack of experimentation and major possibility of faulty sensory and mental information comes into play. However, one general consensus that has arisen from these individuals is that their mind was able to exist in a space other than their own body. This is typically expressed by the feeling of being present inside the medical room and seeing one’s own physical form.
- If the sensation of mind separating from body was a dominant and consistent response to cardiac arrest, there would be a large surge towards a dualist point-of-view; however, there is a major flaw in the logic of this experiment. The problem is that everyone who has undergone this experiment or interview has continuously maintained brain activity during cardiac arrest. No person has been brought back from a point of non-existence in which all brain activity has disappeared. This would mean that the brain activity could likely be creating an illusion of separation from the body itself while in a trance-like state. Whether or not losing brain activity would mean a cessation of the soul, or simply the soul leaving the body completely is the question that is unable to be answered. Until someone has been brought back from that point, (if it’s even possible) we shall never know.
Artist of Quixotic Ideas