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Forms Ontology and the Otherworldly

Plato’s view that physical reality depends on immaterial and mind-independent forms remains popular, with support from key researchers in logic, mathematics, and physics from the eighteenth century until the present time. Those researchers have supposed that there is an additional world of real, nonmaterial objects in addition to our world. Frege, Russell, Godel, Quine, physicist Roger Penrose, and others reinforced this view in the twentieth century, and Platonism continues to shape the overall metaphysical view of the Western world. In religion, Plato’s metaphysics came to lay the foundations for beliefs in the otherworldly—the position that, although we live in this world, our essential nature is not of this world but it is otherworldly. Something like this view is also found in modern philosophy and cognitive science. Hofstadter and Dennett explored how minds and transmigration of souls could be understood in terms of software:

We explore the implications of the emerging views of the mind as software or program—as an abstract sort of thing whose identity is independent of any particular physical embodiment. This opens up delightful prospects, such as various technologies for the transmigration of souls . . . (Hofstadter and Dennett 1981, p. 15)

As mentioned, Francisco Varela went so far as to say he does not believe in physical matter, and Dennett continues to entertain the view that software could be constitutive of mind and consciousness.

 
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