I recently read a story in the news about near death experience...People seeing dead relatives, bright lights etc. The article mentioned that the science community is currently researching and one of the things they are doing is placing objects in operating rooms and/or taping pictures to the ceilings to understand if this is purely something the mind makes up to deal with the situation it finds itself in or if this is an indication that conscienceless can survive outside the body. I've never had such an experience but it poses an interesting question... Does philosophy have a perspective on consciousness surviving outside the body and/or does it have an opinion on this kind of experience?

Lots of interesting questions here, and I won't try to do all the issues justice. But a handful of quick thoughts.

First, philosophy doesn't usually have a perspective on a question because the questions philosophy deals with tend to be inherently controversial. Philosophers have views, but there's almost always disagreement amongst philosophers on almost all philosophical topics. This one is no exception. That said if you were to take a poll these days, I'm pretty confident that at least among philosophers in the "analytic" tradition (very roughly: influenced by formal logic, science, careful attention to language and meaning...), you'd find that most don't think there can be consciousness without a body to embody it. This is largely because the more we learn about the workings of the mind, the more we see that it's intimately connected with the functioning of the brain.

Turning briefly to one of your examples: suppose a bit of information were taped to the top of a tall object in an operating room. And suppose it turns out that a patient who reports a near-death experience is able to give a detailed account of the information, even though from the operating table there was no "ordinary" way to see it. What would this show?

It's not at all clear. In particular, it's not clear that it would do much to support the idea that the mind is separate from the body. What we'd have is someone whose brain is functioning now and never actually died. Somehow, this person has some information that we wouldn't expect him to have. But what best explains how he came to have the information is hard to say - even if he reports an experience of floating above the operating table. Saying that the mind separated from the body and travelled up through the room to examine the information doesn't help much. How would that work? Does the bodiless mind have eyes? How did the interaction between whatever was up there on top of that tall object and the disembodied mind work? How did the information get stored? How did the mind reconnect with the patient's brain?

The point isn't that the mind must be embodied. The point is that a case like this would only amount to good evidence for minds separate from bodies if that idea gave us a good explanation for the case. As it stands, it's not clear that it gives us much of an explanation at all, let the best one.

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