This discussion gets into philosophy as well as neurology, which is why it's in this forum. Questions such as, "does the 'self' exist as an
ontological entity?" and, "is the 'self' merely an emergent behavior arising from the functions of the brain, rather than a distinct entity?" I think
two fairly safe statements are:
1) The current state of neurology indicates very strongly that emotion, the sense of self, and even choice, are derived from the complex functions of
the various organs of the brain and the various neurotransmitter and electrical activity therein, and nothing else that is scientifically appreciable.
And much more speculatively, but following from that,
an afterlife hypothetically exists, it seems probable that consciousness and emotion would not exist there exactly as we presently
precisely because, presumably, there is no physical neurology.
Having said that, I can perhaps conceive of some extremely speculative, extremely hypothetical fashion in which the information that comprises the
state we know subjectively as consciousness could somehow be "saved" or "copied" to another dimension or membrane or what have you, where matter as we
know it does not exist, but where information might still be able to remain coherent through some property of that dimension's differing laws of
physics - or some such. And if it can maintain the coherence of consciousness in a dynamic, functioning way without matter as we know it, then I
suppose it could also maintain the coherence of what we experience as emotion. That's about the only even remotely pseudoscientific
way I can
imagine an afterlife mechanically working that there might be some possibility of working into our current understanding of the universe.
There always remains, of course, the conceivable possibility that the universe - or other universes, dimensions, etc. - simply contains realms or
properties of which we are entirely unaware, and incapable of perceiving, which allow for the concept of an afterlife to be real. In that case, all
bets are off and anything is possible. I've often had moments where I considered whether, should that be the case, there might be some more diffuse,
less bounded equivalent of what we call emotions in such a state. Or perhaps simply a state of complete understanding, acceptance, and comprehension
of everything and its nature, causing some semblance of what we might call euphoria or bliss in a prospective afterlife.
All of that is, of course, entirely speculative, because we have no way of knowing personally without experiencing it firsthand, if it should exist at
all. (This is not to assert that those who have
had what they believe to be glimpses into such states or realms are wrong. I don't know one way
or another definitively, though I do believe there are other possible explanations for such experiences. I can't assert for a fact that that's what
they are in any specific given case. Hence my being skeptically agnostic.)
edit on 1/16/2013 by AceWombat04 because: Typo