Do human beings have a soul? The philosophical debate between materialism and dualism is highly complex, and it is difficult for one side to convince the other. Due to advances in modern medicine, we now have much more research on the phenomena of near-death experiences (NDEs), and these new data provide more information to settle this debate. If some NDEs were shown to be veridical, it would pose a challenge to materialism.
This paper is the first to argue that the understanding of NDEs is in fact very relevant to medical care, especially the care of terminally ill patients. I explore various naturalistic explanations of NDEs. Physiological theories appeal to the effects of drugs or oxygen deficiency. Psychological theories include constructivism, the defense mechanism of depersonalization, and the appeal to fantasy. I argue that these theories cannot provide an adequate explanation of the phenomena of NDE. I then examine cases of veridical perception in NDE and review the related research. I argue that these cases provide considerable support for the veridicality of at least some NDEs. I finally conclude that we should not dismiss the significance of NDEs and that they seem to provide some support for the existence of the soul.
本文會指出對NDE 的認識與醫療照顧（特別是垂危的病人）息息相關，然後探討種種對瀕死經驗的自然主義解釋。生理學理論包括：NDE 純粹是藥物的作用；是缺氧所致等。而心理學理論則包括建構論，人格解體的效應，幻想和想像，或出生時的記憶等。我認為現時還沒有醫學科學或心理學的理論能充分和全面解釋NDE 的現象。我接著探討一些可靠知覺的案例和研究，並指出這對瀕死經驗的可靠性提供相當支持。我的結論是：NDE 的存在是不能抹殺的，而且NDE 對靈魂的存在似乎提供了某程度的支持。