This site is supported by Nobility Studios.

Consciousness survives death

189 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Wayne Stewart can be contacted at: waynestewart@mbdefault.org

Thomas Clark can be contacted at: twc@naturalism.org

"I die, someone else is born after I die" assumes that "you" are not the "someone else", because they assume that the "you" exists. By "you" I mean an indivisible self/a core consciousness/a soul/some "soul gene". They assume there is an indivisible self.

Tom Clark and Wayne Stewart are arguing against this and then explaining the implications of there being no indivisible self. Yes TC ceases to exist, but he is still experiencing existence as TC/rad.

TC's experience > TC/rad's experience

------------experience------------->

There is no difference. TC/rad is different from TC, yes, yet he carries on the experience that TC had. He IS "TC's experience". TC IS experiencing as TC/rad.

Do you understand that?

Well, since I started the thread, I think I do understand the concept being offered here. If you think not, you might want to point out where I've gone wrong in previous explanations.

But I don't find the claim to be particularly persuasive, though it is metaphysically fascinating. Even if we suppose that the "I" is some kind of illusion (an assumption far from demonstrated) and that the "location of experiencing" can somehow shift, it doesn't mean that any such shift takes place or is meaningful.

We know that there are about six billion different "I"s on the planet, even if this "I" is an illusion. I don't experience any of those I's except my own I. It follows that existential passage cannot occur spatially.

We are left with the idea that it can, however, occur temporally, yet I have no idea why we should think so. I know it doesn't occur spatially, because the experiences "you" are having are completely foreign to the experiences "I" am having. To me, it seems a good inference that since spatial existential passage cannot occur, it can't occur temporally either, and the experiences that future people have will not represent a shift of experiencing from my current existential location to that future location. Or at least, I see no reason why we should suppose that this takes place. The argument you've put forth certainly does not offer any kind of entailment.

Also, when people say "I will cease to exist/I'll be in that place I was before birth" they assume there is an "I", an indivisible self. When really, that "place" "they" were before birth was a different conscious being's body.

Or else they were no place at all before they were born, for they did not exist.

Edited by Hugo Holbling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Ok, what if you were asleep and were cloned during your sleep? Which one do you awaken as? Why think you are the original and the clone is some other self?

Because there is no self!

I might as well say "because there is a self". And as for logical guesses, in the absence of any reason to suspect the contrary, why isn't it logical to assume that our experience is not, in fact, an illusion? That's the usual thing to do in any case. I am, after all, assuming I am really typing out a message, in the absence of a reason to suspect it is only a very convincing illusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

But I don't find the claim to be particularly persuasive, though it is metaphysically fascinating. Even if we suppose that the "I" is some kind of illusion (an assumption far from demonstrated) and that the "location of experiencing" can somehow shift, it doesn't mean that any such shift takes place or is meaningful.

Not persuasive? The default assumption is that there is no indivisible self. Why would we have reason to believe otherwise?

Think about it, belief in an indivisible self requires that either some specific arrangement of matter creates "your" consciousness OR some sort of supernatural soul-type thing creates "your" consciousness.

So what about genetic clones? Two exact copies of the same "indivisible self".

You believe in an indivisible self. If this indivisible self is not based on something supernatural (a soul) then it is based on something natural. Therefore an indivisible self (brain/thinking device) can only be based on a specific pattern/arrangement of genes/atoms/matter/something physical. It can only be based on something physical.

If we change some part of the arrangement of matter, specifically in the brain, you are not "you" anymore. Some other consciousness has been brought into existence and you have exited into non-existence.

Agree so far?

Here's a hypothetical for you to ponder:

You are in a coma. During that coma you are cloned. The clone is an EXACT copy (complete with memories - EXACT). It is also in a comatose state. It lies in the bed next to the original "you".

Shortly after being cloned the original "you" dies. The clone lives on and awakens from the coma.

Are you the clone?

Answer: Given that the indivisible self can only be based on a specific arrangement of matter (assuming there is no soul) we have to agree that you are the clone. You do not die but awaken as the clone. Why would we think otherwise?

If you do not buy that, think of it this way: If you were somehow disassembled (your brain disassembled atom by atom) and then reassembled whilst you sleep, we can safely assume that, upon awakening, you would awaken as you normally would, as yourself. Well that is essentially what is happening in the above cloning scenario. Except instead of being disassembled and reassembled, you have been copied. We can then assume you awaken as the clone.

Agree so far?

Hypothetical #2

This time the clone does not have your memories. It has no memories whatsoever, but it still has the same physical arrangement as the original "you". So do you awaken as the clone in this case?

Answer: Yes. The only difference is that you will have no memory. We can compare this to falling asleep, suffering a stroke during sleep and then consequentially awakening amnesiac. You awaken as the clone, just without any memories.

Hypothetical #3

Now, what if it were not an exact clone of you, but some different conscious being with a completely different physical arrangement of matter (specifically in the make-up of its brain), who was lying comatose in the bed next to you. Can we assume that you awaken as this person if you were to die? If you believe in an indivisible self based on a specific physical arrangement of matter, we cannot. However, if you dispense with the idea of an indivisible self, we can. This is where "existential passage" and "generic subjective continuity" come into play.

Now, we cannot know for certain, there is no way to prove it, but the notion of an indivisible self seems ludicrous does it not?

We know that there are about six billion different "I"s on the planet, even if this "I" is an illusion. I don't experience any of those I's except my own I. It follows that existential passage cannot occur spatially.

"I might be construed as saying, to borrow the language of a different tradition, that an eternal Subject exists, ever-present in all contexts of experience. I wouldn't endorse such a construal since it posits an entity above and beyond specific consciousnesses for which there is no evidence; nevertheless such language captures something of the feel for subjectivity and death I want to convey."

Did you remember that analogy Clark made? That we are all the same "experiencer". There is only one "experiencer" and it is inside every conscious being. We can call it consciousness/subjectivity. That is the only indivisible self, that one experiencer within us all - the theme of subjectivity.

You say you experience as yourself, that is because you can only do that. That is the context of "you". You say you aren't experiencing the other I's, but the only way to know if you were experiencing them is to have a memory of "your" "I", but since you would be experiencing as them, you are restrained by the context of their personal subjective context.

I think you have missed the point of "generic subjective continuity" when you start saying you are not "other people".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I think you have missed the point of "generic subjective continuity" when you start saying you are not "other people".

No, I do not think I have missed the point. I have made the point in this thread, which I began on this subject some two years ago after reading the essays by Clark and Stewart.

It is true that when I suggest my "I" is differentiated from other "I"s and so there cannot be, so to say, spatial existential passage, this rests on an assumption that today I am the same "I" that I was yesterday! Who knows? Maybe yesterday I was experiencing the "I" of Barak Obama. But today I am experiencing the "I" of me, which necesssarily comes with a complete set of memories leading "me" to believe that I have always been "me," when in fact every day I wake up as some one new with this new person's complete set of memories!

For all we know, this is exactly what happens to all of us. Maybe every night we go to bed and wake up in an entirely different subjective context -- as another person, completely different than the "person" we were yesterday! And of course if this happens, there'd be no way to know about it, because the new person would have a complete set of memories of that person, and no memories of the old person he was the day before. This is possible. All sorts of things are possible!

But that's ultimately the problem with this whole thesis, I think. It's sort of like Last Thursdayism -- the idea that the whole world, with a complete fabricated history, came into being last Thursday (the idea of Last Thursdayism, I should note, astonishingly has support in quntum physics, and there is even an argument that we should expect something like Last Thursdayism to be true. But I'm not getting into that here.)

If existential passage, generic subjective continuity, or the like, is true, it simply is useless or meaningless to us, for all practical purposes (fapp). We can't test it, we can't disprove it, we can't prove it, we can't predict with it, we can't actually do anything with it. But also, in the final analysis -- and I rereard Clark's essay last night -- as Clark states, unlike the thought experiments that he mooted in his paper and you in your last post, there is no obvious candidate for generic subjectivity to pass to; and so we must assume, without any evidence or any conceivable way to obtain evidence, that this "subjective generic continuity" passes from someone who dies to someone who is then born; and (as I shall note again) we've no reason to think that this sort of passage, if it exists, can't pass to a bug; indeed there is nothing in the thesis that mandates it passes to a future entity; perhaps "I'll" die and wake up born as Adolph Hitler! Who knows?

But again, for all practical purposes, this untestable metaphysical claim is simply functionally indistinguishable from the ordinary materialist conception that when I die, I die and that's the end of consciousness.

Clark goes on at length about the fallacy of reifying nothingness, but I can only state, yet again, that this is a linguistic misconception that can easily be repaired. And I also understand his thesis of no subjective "gap" in experience; but the main question is, why should we not believe that at "lights out" (death) nothing further happens? That is, at death, one can go to sleep (we all sleep every night); have no dreams; (we all have dreamless states); and then, simply, never wake up, in any subjective context.

There's no logical or metaphysical reason to think that the above-described state of affairs, the standard atheist/materialist outlook, can't be just as true as existential passage. And so there is simply no way to pick one over the other, and therefore what do we do with the EP thesis? It's interesting to talk about, especially in the context of the philosophy of personal identity, but it doesn't seem to lead anywhere, ultimately. That's my judgment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

BTW, if you, avalonesa, are in contact with Tom Clark, or even if you aren't, feel free to drop him a line and invite him here to discuss the idea. I'm not trying to give it short shrift; after all I did start this thread. It's actually, as I've said, a fascinating metaphysical speculation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

It is true that when I suggest my "I" is differentiated from other "I"s and so there cannot be, so to say, spatial existential passage, this rests on an assumption that today I am the same "I" that I was yesterday! Who knows? Maybe yesterday I was experiencing the "I" of Barak Obama. But today I am experiencing the "I" of me, which necesssarily comes with a complete set of memories leading "me" to believe that I have always been "me," when in fact every day I wake up as some one new with this new person's complete set of memories!

For all we know, this is exactly what happens to all of us. Maybe every night we go to bed and wake up in an entirely different subjective context -- as another person, completely different than the "person" we were yesterday! And of course if this happens, there'd be no way to know about it, because the new person would have a complete set of memories of that person, and no memories of the old person he was the day before. This is possible. All sorts of things are possible!

Yes, when you say your "I" is differentiated from other "I's" it is resting on the assumption that you have an indivisible self. Yes, "all sorts of things are possible", but we can use logic to work out which "things" are more probable than others. Either there is an indivisible self OR there isn't.

Also, as Mr. Stewart stated, neural currents are active all night during sleep, so he does not think EP can occur during sleep (as you have suggested above), since there is some level of consciousness still there. What would be the use of alarm clocks if we were completely unconscious during sleep?

But that's ultimately the problem with this whole thesis, I think. It's sort of like Last Thursdayism -- the idea that the whole world, with a complete fabricated history, came into being last Thursday (the idea of Last Thursdayism, I should note, astonishingly has support in quntum physics, and there is even an argument that we should expect something like Last Thursdayism to be true. But I'm not getting into that here.)

Yes there is no way to know, there is no way to prove EP/GSC happens. We can only make assumptions that there is no indivisible self, and then work from there. Either there is an indivisible self or there isn't. As I have said before, the basis of an indivisible self is either:

1) Supernatural (a soul)

2) Natural (a specific arrangement of genes/atoms/physical matter)

They are the only bases for the existence of an indivisible self. I think they are both equally ludicrous, but thats just my opinion. Just as I think "Last Thursdayism" is ludicrous too, even if it may be possible.

But also, in the final analysis -- and I rereard Clark's essay last night -- as Clark states, unlike the thought experiments that he mooted in his paper and you in your last post, there is no obvious candidate for generic subjectivity to pass to; and so we must assume, without any evidence or any conceivable way to obtain evidence, that this "subjective generic continuity" passes from someone who dies to someone who is then born; and (as I shall note again) we've no reason to think that this sort of passage, if it exists, can't pass to a bug; indeed there is nothing in the thesis that mandates it passes to a future entity; perhaps "I'll" die and wake up born as Adolph Hitler! Who knows?

Firstly, it does not necessarily have to pass to "someone who is born", only the first conscious being to break the stasis of "mortal amnesia" after the time "you" die. The first subject to become conscious is where "you" would pass to after dying. It could be a bear coming out of deep hibernation. It could be a man being revived after being pronounced clinically dead. But most often it will probably be a newly-conscious being which has just been born.

Again, bug's may not be conscious. It seems only animals with a suitably enhanced central nervous system seem fit to participate in EP/GSC. However, there is no way to definitively know which species are conscious and which aren't. Again, we can only make assumptions that rocks, wood, bacteria and invertebrates are not conscious. Why do you think bugs would be conscious, what makes you assume this?

Secondly, the thesis does mandate that subjectivity passes to a future entity. It assumes time travels in one direction only. Just as when you go to sleep, you awaken in the future, so too follows EP/GSC. You may want to read the replies to Clark's paper again as that particular objection is dealt with (the objection that you could pass to a subject of ANYWHEN). http://www.naturalism.org/dns_replies.htm#Stewart

But again, for all practical purposes, this untestable metaphysical claim is simply functionally indistinguishable from the ordinary materialist conception that when I die, I die and that's the end of consciousness.

Clark goes on at length about the fallacy of reifying nothingness, but I can only state, yet again, that this is a linguistic misconception that can easily be repaired. And I also understand his thesis of no subjective "gap" in experience; but the main question is, why should we not believe that at "lights out" (death) nothing further happens? That is, at death, one can go to sleep (we all sleep every night); have no dreams; (we all have dreamless states); and then, simply, never wake up, in any subjective context.

There's no logical or metaphysical reason to think that the above-described state of affairs, the standard atheist/materialist outlook, can't be just as true as existential passage. And so there is simply no way to pick one over the other, and therefore what do we do with the EP thesis? It's interesting to talk about, especially in the context of the philosophy of personal identity, but it doesn't seem to lead anywhere, ultimately. That's my judgment.

Again, it all depends on whether we have indivisible selves. The "standard atheist/materialist outlook" assumes we do have an indivisible self and when we die consciousness ceases (and the only way to experience existence again would be if our brain were to be built and made functional again - they believe the indivisible self is based on a unique, specific arrangement of matter).

Clark and Stewart (both naturalists/materialists) think otherwise.

So we are left with either:

1) There is an indivisible self and when it dies/passes some point of unconsciousness, experience ends (the self is no longer experiencing - it is in an "off-state" , the same state it was in before birth).

2) There is no indivisible self (there is only consciousness) and when subjects die/pass some point of unconsciousness, experience relocates (the only "off-state" would be when there are no conscious subjects anywhere in the Universe).

I tend towards 2), not out of a want to believe, just because it seems slightly more logical. In fact, I would rather believe in 1) because as you said, EP/GSC is a lottery with the odds most probably tipped towards living a horrific life (at least on Earth it seems that way - for all we know there could be heaps of other conscious beings in the Universe which may have very pleasurable lives, in this case the lottery could be in favour of pleasurable existences rather than painful existences).

Also, here are some questions for you (since you seem to believe in the existence of an indivisible self):

Q1. If you are cloned during your sleep and then "original-you" dies, do you awaken as the clone?

Q2. If your brain is disassembled (atom-by-atom) during sleep and then reassembled perfectly and placed back in your body, do you awaken as yourself? - That is, do you awaken as you normally would have?

Q3. Why would people answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

Q4. Why would it matter if you had your neurons/DNA changed (in your brain) whilst you slept? Would you wake up still as "yourself"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Oh yeah, davidm and anyone else who has read MBD, Wayne Stewart is offering a toll-free conference call next weekend - some time between the afternoon of Friday May 1 and morning of Sunday May 3 (Pacific Time) - 2009.

So if you are interested and want to ask some questions, e-mail me or Mr. Stewart.

My e-mail: avalonesa@hotmail.com

Wayne Stewart (author of Metaphysics by Default): waynestewart@mbdefault.org

Please respond soon as it will be this weekend. Good opportunity, don't miss out.

P.S. davidm, can you please change Mr. Stewart's contact address to: waynestewart@mbdefault.org

in my post on page 3 and your post at the the top of this page, Thanks.

Edited by avalonesa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Before replying to all of this, I want to focus on the following:

Yes, when you say your "I" is differentiated from other "I's" it is resting on the assumption that you have an indivisible self. Yes, "all sorts of things are possible", but we can use logic to work out which "things" are more probable than others. Either there is an indivisible self OR there isn't.

Yes, and that's why I put "I" in quote marks. I am accepting arguendo that there is no indivisible self (although it remains unclear to me why this is important for the thesis at hand; that is, it's unclear why an indivisible self would rule out EP, and it's also unclear why a divisible self rules it in). But, what would you like to do? Have this discussion without ever using the word "I" because if we ever use the word "I" it indicts us as a True Believer in the Indivisible Self? If so I'll have to comb back over your own posts to see if you commit this sin.

To be honest, there seems to be an element -- how shall I put it? -- proselytizing for EP in your posts, which I find somewhat offputting. You are making a number of assumptions that are highly vulnerable to challenge. More later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

One other quick point: If it is true to say that differentiating my "I" (remember the quote marks!) from other "I"s rests on the fallacious assumption of an indivisible self, what then does differentiate my "I" from, say, Barack Obama's "I"? Why didn't "I" wake up in the White House this morning as Barack Obama's "I"? Or are you saying that this is possible only if Barack Obama is put under amnesia, say, for some medical treatment, and then a dead person can "Pass" to Mr. O and take over from there?

For surely, there just are different people in the world -- some six billion -- so there must be some differentiation between them and me, if not an indivisible "I". So what is it?

To be honest, the more I think about this an entire idea, the more ludicrous it sounds. However, for all that, I'll try to flesh out a metaphysical proposition on my own that might make better sense of it, even if it's not precisely the ideas of either Clark or Stewart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

The main issue I have with your treatment of the problem, Av, is your dichotomoy of two possible explanations for indivisibility of self. Why not the following trichotomy?

1: some kind of supernatural soul

2: a specific configuration of matter and energy

3: some factor we simply have never imagined.

I think, given what we know about how consciousness works (that being, nothing. Not just 'not much' but actually zero understanding), option 3 is particularly reasonable. Consider the alternatives; were we to accept that 1 or 2 is correct, we would be trying to explain the indivisibility of something we have absolutely no understanding of in terms of something we do (or claim to).

The bare fact of this matter is that conciousness is the single most mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon we have ever encountered, and probably ever will if trends contnue as they are. Why, I would like to ask, are you assuming we can be comfortable with any proposed explanation of how it works, when our actual knowledge of the thing itself is truly zero?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Also, as Mr. Stewart stated, neural currents are active all night during sleep, so he does not think EP can occur during sleep (as you have suggested above), since there is some level of consciousness still there. What would be the use of alarm clocks if we were completely unconscious during sleep?

But then, in that case, why should there be “existential passage” to a bear coming out of hibernation or a man revived after being pronounced clinically dead? Both the bear and the revived man had ongoing neural activity during the time they were “out”, so for the same reason that the locus of subjectivity can’t pass from someone who still has brain activity, why should it pass to another entity who also has ongoing brain activity?

Again, bug's may not be conscious. It seems only animals with a suitably enhanced central nervous system seem fit to participate in EP/GSC.

Why? This seems to be purely an assumption. What justifies it?

However, there is no way to definitively know which species are conscious and which aren't. Again, we can only make assumptions that rocks, wood, bacteria and invertebrates are not conscious. Why do you think bugs would be conscious, what makes you assume this?

Why would I not think bugs are conscious? I do think they are conscious, for the same reason that I think other humans are conscious: I infer their consciousness from their behavior. Insects, studied closely, have amazingly complex societies, behaviors and traits, all of which give every indication of conscious behavior. Of course, this is not to say that their behavior is intelligent by human standards — I don’t think ants are going to be mastering the calculus anytime soon — but one need not be intelligent to be conscious. On the other hand, it is doubtful that insects are self-conscious, in the sense of being able to think about thinking or having a well-defined self identity. But I don’t see anything in Clark or Stewart’s writings that stipulate self-consciousness as necessary for passage, and if that claim were to be made, it seems pretty ad hoc and in need of further justification.

The only other alternative is to think of insects as robots, with no experience, no qualia, of any kind: i.e., they would be philosophical zombies. But then, if they are, then it’s also possible that all other humans (excepting myself) are also philosophical zombies. This is the philosophical Problem of Other Minds. Speaking personally, I think, to borrow from Nagel, that there is something it is like to be an ant.

Now, if we were to include insects, as well as all other animals, among the target candidates for existential passage, a moment's reflection assures us that the prospect of you or I dying and existentially passing to another human -- a newborn infant, say -- is vanishingly small. There are vastly many more insects on earth than people, and so you should expect to pass into an insect. I am thinking that I would like to be a beetle -- a plausible possibility, given that there are more species of beetles on earth than any other animal. Perhaps I will become a dung beetle, and I already pretty much know what that will be like from Kafka's Metamorphosis. I shall like sour milk and rotten apples, and I'll leave slimy trails all over the floor and scare humans.

Secondly, the thesis does mandate that subjectivity passes to a future entity. It assumes time travels in one direction only. Just as when you go to sleep, you awaken in the future, so too follows EP/GSC. You may want to read the replies to Clark's paper again as that particular objection is dealt with (the objection that you could pass to a subject of ANYWHEN).

I haven’t had a chance to read the link yet, but there seems a couple of serious problems. It’s simply unclear why passage must go to the future. Yes, when you go to sleep, you wake in the future, but all bets are off when you die. But there is even a deeper problem. As is being discussed in other threads, many scientists and philosophers feel that the past, present and future all exist. One reason to think that the future exists is because the existence of the future is implied by special and general relativity. If the future exists, no one can “pass” to anything, because all the consciousness slots are pre-claimed! The inn is full, as it were.

Again, it all depends on whether we have indivisible selves. The "standard atheist/materialist outlook" assumes we do have an indivisible self and when we die consciousness ceases (and the only way to experience existence again would be if our brain were to be built and made functional again - they believe the indivisible self is based on a unique, specific arrangement of matter).

It’s still somewhat unclear to be why an “indivisible self” rules out EP, and a divisible self rules it in. Moreover, we need a clearer definition of what is meant by “indivisible self.” Generally in philosophy the problem of the “I” is thought to rest on the misconception that there is some kind of “homunculus” behind the mind, a driver in the driver’s seat. If we dispense with the driver, though, it’s pretty clear that what we call the self really is just a unique, specific arrangement of matter. What makes you think it is not?

So we are left with either:

1) There is an indivisible self and when it dies/passes some point of unconsciousness, experience ends (the self is no longer experiencing - it is in an "off-state" , the same state it was in before birth).

2) There is no indivisible self (there is only consciousness) and when subjects die/pass some point of unconsciousness, experience relocates (the only "off-state" would be when there are no conscious subjects anywhere in the Universe).

As Timothy notes, this seems like a false dichotomy. But anyway, if we say there is no indivisible self — there is only consciousness — why does this fact alone, if true, entail, or even just make likely, existential passage?

Q1. If you are cloned during your sleep and then "original-you" dies, do you awaken as the clone?

Q2. If your brain is disassembled (atom-by-atom) during sleep and then reassembled perfectly and placed back in your body, do you awaken as yourself? - That is, do you awaken as you normally would have?

Q3. Why would people answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

Q4. Why would it matter if you had your neurons/DNA changed (in your brain) whilst you slept? Would you wake up still as "yourself"?

I don’t know why people would answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2. I answer Yes to both of them. Suppose, though, that I am cloned in my sleep but the original Me does not die. I suppose we could say that there are now two Me’s, identical in all respects, but that soon their identities will begin to diverge since they will have different experiences, and experiences actually change the structure of the brain, which is why I’m puzzled that you deny what we call the self is a unique structure or pattern of matter and energy. That is precisely what it seems to be, with the cavaet that Timothy has noted: We don’t really know how consciousness arises from the brain in the first place. We can correlate sensations and actions with “lighting up” of certain areas of the brain, but this does not explain consciousness; it does not explain qualia, the sensation of seeing red or tasting sweet. This is the Hard Problem of Consciousness, or the Explanatory Gap, and given our ignorance on this matter, it seems pretty premature to think we have any particular good reason to believe in Existential Passage. Finally, I should add that the clone scenario may take place every waking minute of our lives. If the Many Worlds hypothesis of Quantum Mechanics is true, we are continually splitting into staggeringly many identical copies who then go on to live their own independent lives in their branches of the wave function.

Edited by davidm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

My apologies if this is a distraction from David's post, which still requires answering, but:

Q1. If you are cloned during your sleep and then "original-you" dies, do you awaken as the clone?

Q2. If your brain is disassembled (atom-by-atom) during sleep and then reassembled perfectly and placed back in your body, do you awaken as yourself? - That is, do you awaken as you normally would have?

Q3. Why would people answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

I would answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2 on the basis that I (i.e., "original-me") die in the first scenario but not the second. That is, I am not going to have the experiences that a clone of me does, since - according to the stated scenario - I died. However, if someone were to deconstruct and reconstruct "original-me" then it would still be me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

My apologies if this is a distraction from David's post, which still requires answering, but:

Q1. If you are cloned during your sleep and then "original-you" dies, do you awaken as the clone?

Q2. If your brain is disassembled (atom-by-atom) during sleep and then reassembled perfectly and placed back in your body, do you awaken as yourself? - That is, do you awaken as you normally would have?

Q3. Why would people answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

I would answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2 on the basis that I (i.e., "original-me") die in the first scenario but not the second. That is, I am not going to have the experiences that a clone of me does, since - according to the stated scenario - I died. However, if someone were to deconstruct and reconstruct "original-me" then it would still be me.

"I died" - You see davidm, this is where people get confused with EP/GSC.

Parsec has said he/she does not awaken as the clone (even though it is an exact genetic replica and was unconscious at the same time "original-you" was) because he/she believes there is some sort of magical, soul-like indivisible self/homunculus present within "original-you" which is different from "clone-you". EP/GSC states that we should dispense with the idea of a soul - including the secular version of a soul: specific physical arrangement of matter (sorry, I was a bit unclear when I said "self" in my previous post - I meant "soul").

People still have the illusion of this "nothingness" which their "indivisible self" goes to when they die. If it (nothingness) is a place not able to be experienced then it has to follow that subjectivity does not go to "that place" but it relocates.

You can't just say that "original-you" ceased and went into that "nothingness" place. It awakens as the clone, as you have agreed.

EP/GSC simply proposes that this subjective relocation occurs regardless of whether the subjects have the "exact same" physical make-up (specifically in the brain/part which gives them (subjects) consciousness).

Why would the subjects have to have the exact same specific arrangement of matter in their brain? Because it is the secular version of the soul? As you stated in your first post, this seems as fallacious as the supernatural-soul belief, doesn't it?

Therefore, if there were only two conscious beings in existence in the entire Universe, EP/GSC would state that in the above "clone scenario" you would awaken as whatever being becomes conscious (from out of the "nothingness"), after you died. Regardless of whether it was an exact clone of you, a different human, an artificial-consciousness or a beetle (assuming beetles are conscious). Subjectivity is universal to all conscious beings, there is (probably) no soul - both the supernatural and the natural version of it.

I don't know if you understand, I am not the best at conveying concepts in text, especially concepts such as this. I thought Wayne Stewart and Tom Clark did pretty good jobs, but thats just me.

Parsec's response has made a great example of a common misconception, thank you Parsec.

Thank You for your time

Also, I don't think I am "proselytizing" about EP, merely making people aware, and since I saw you had created this thread on EP, I joined Galilean Library in order to discuss with you.

So far, my "beliefs" in EP have strengthened after much thought over it. Just trying to get people to agree and hopefully have it as a possible alternative belief to the "standard atheist/materialist" outlook, as you put it (and I agree with you that the outlook is quite fallacious - at least thats what you used to think, somehow I think you have changed your mind since you first posted about EP)

Once again, if you wish to discuss EP over the phone in a toll-free teleconference with Wayne Stewart it will be next weekend (around 2/5/09 - or 5/2/09 as you Americans put it) , so contact Mr. Stewart at: waynestewart@mbdefault.org

Edited by avalonesa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Parsec has said he/she does not awaken as the clone (even though it is an exact genetic replica and was unconscious at the same time "original-you" was) because he/she believes there is some sort of magical, soul-like indivisible self.

I'm not sure how you infer that from what I wrote. Also, I'm not sure if I do believe in that type of self, but this is mainly because you've yet to define what you mean by "indivisible self".

I don't awaken as the clone BECAUSE I'M NOT THE CLONE. I am "original-me," not the clone of "original-me". Presumably, my clone and I have separate bodies? If so, then we also have separate conscious experiences. I died. My clone lives on. The conscious experience of my now-dead body doesn't "jump" into the clone's body upon my death. The clone's body should have its own conscious experience, regardless of the fact that the clone's conscious experience originated with a replica of "original-me's" brain/body state at some point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Parsec has said he/she does not awaken as the clone (even though it is an exact genetic replica and was unconscious at the same time "original-you" was) because he/she believes there is some sort of magical, soul-like indivisible self.

I'm not sure how you infer that from what I wrote. Also, I'm not sure if I do believe in that type of self, but this is mainly because you've yet to define what you mean by "indivisible self".

I don't awaken as the clone BECAUSE I'M NOT THE CLONE. I am "original-me," not the clone of "original-me". Presumably, my clone and I have separate bodies? If so, then we also have separate conscious experiences. I died. My clone lives on. The conscious experience of my now-dead body doesn't "jump" into the clone's body upon my death. The clone's body should have its own conscious experience, regardless of the fact that the clone's conscious experience originated with a replica of "original-me's" brain/body state at some point.

Once again, saying you are "not the clone" says you believe in some sort of soul-type thing. BTW, there is no "jumping" of conscious experience. There is no literal moving of any natural/supernatural thing from "original-me" to "clone-me". So if the conscious experience of your "now-dead-body" does not "jump" into the clone (again no literal jumping/moving of anything is involved), where do you suspect conscious experience "jumps" to hmmm? Into the nothingness of "that place where experience is impossible".

What is the difference between being cloned and being disassembled and then reassembled in the bed next to you?

Why answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

I think davidm will agree with me on this, as he has already said he would answer yes to both Q1 and Q2.

Parsec, I suggest a read of MBD or Clark's paper at: www.mbdefault.org OR www.naturalism.org/death.htm

Edited by avalonesa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Once again, saying you are "not the clone" says you believe in some sort of soul-type thing.

Saying I'm not the clone is equivalent to saying I'm not you. Does saying that I'm not you commit me to a belief in some sort of soul-type thing? Why should it?

BTW, there is no "jumping" of conscious experience. There is no literal moving of any natural/supernatural thing from "original-me" to "clone-me". So if the conscious experience of your "now-dead-body" does not "jump" into the clone (again no literal jumping/moving of anything is involved), where do you suspect conscious experience "jumps" to hmmm?

If you'd care to read what I wrote, I said that it doesn't jump, so I don't suspect that my conscious experience jumps to anywhere upon my death.

What is the difference between being cloned and being disassembled and then reassembled in the bed next to you?

Being reassembled is just putting "original-me" (to use your term) back together again. Whereas, a clone is a separate body (in addition) to my own. I am my body (and nobody else's!).

Why answer No to Q1 but Yes to Q2?

Because I am not the clone. In other words, the clone and I are two separate bodies. The clone cannot be created or instantiated at the same spacetime location as "original-me" because I'm already there! Since the clone begins its life somewhere different from the location of "original-me" then the conscious experience of the clone cannot seamlessly continue on from my own conscious experience, since I'm still doing that! The clone starts out with my exact brain/body state (copied from some prior moment) but begins its conscious life in a different place and time to where my brain/body state was copied.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

People still have the illusion of this "nothingness" which their "indivisible self" goes to when they die.

But actually, they don't. Or at least, I don't, and now having read the linked page about proposed objections to EP, I notice one writer fastened on the same point. This is just a linguistic confusion or a metaphor. As I've already noted, one need not think that at death one incomprehensibly passes "into" nothingness, thereby reifying nothingness. One can just say, "I cease to exist," and the confusion is dispelled. And without this confusion, which is linguistic and not conceptual, it's hard to see what problem EP addresses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

The scientists would ask,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

"People still have the illusion of this "nothingness" which their "indivisible self" goes to when they die."

But actually, they don't. Or at least, I don't, and now having read the linked page about proposed objections to EP, I notice one writer fastened on the same point. This is just a linguistic confusion or a metaphor. As I've already noted, one need not think that at death one incomprehensibly passes "into" nothingness, thereby reifying nothingness. One can just say, "I cease to exist," and the confusion is dispelled. And without this confusion, which is linguistic and not conceptual, it's hard to see what problem EP addresses.

"I cease to exist." So you believe in the secular version of the soul?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

"People still have the illusion of this "nothingness" which their "indivisible self" goes to when they die."

But actually, they don't. Or at least, I don't, and now having read the linked page about proposed objections to EP, I notice one writer fastened on the same point. This is just a linguistic confusion or a metaphor. As I've already noted, one need not think that at death one incomprehensibly passes "into" nothingness, thereby reifying nothingness. One can just say, "I cease to exist," and the confusion is dispelled. And without this confusion, which is linguistic and not conceptual, it's hard to see what problem EP addresses.

"I cease to exist." So you believe in the secular version of the soul?

I think this is just playing word games, and in fact you seem to be begging the question in favor of what you propose simply by stipulating it.

You seem to be saying that since the "I" is an illusion, and that there is only consciousness, conscisousness can never go out. So when the illusory "I" switches off, the subjective awareness of that mythical "I" passes to another point of view or perspective.

Now, I've already said that something like this might be possible. But to establish its possibility requires more than word games about "the secular version of the soul" and appeals to confused linguistics, such as "falling into a state of nothingness." It either requires scientific evidence, or a plausible, cohrent metaphysical concept which I still think is lacking here. For after all, it's possible that all conscious beings could suddenly disappear from the universe. In that case, their awareness would have no successor state to pass to. Given that this is possible, we would then need to know why it couldn't be the case that when my "I", whatever this "I" is, dies, there is no passage to a successor state.

Rather than hand-waving about a "secular version of the soul," without describing what this is supposed to be and why we should reject it a priori, as you seem to think, you need to explain why an individual is just not what many materialists hold him to be: a particular, and unique, configuration of matter and energy. You can call this a "secular soul" if you'd like, but just calling the idea a name does not make it wrong. In fact, it seems quite plausible that this is the case: My "I" is a particular, unique, and probably unreproducible configuration of matter and energy. And if that is so, then I should expect that when it winks out, then it's gone for good and there is no subjective passage to a sucessor state.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We can imagine an individual, Ray, whom we put to sleep. We then take his brain out of his body, but keep it alive by artificial means. We can imagine a technology that enables us to open his brain and tinker with it: We can change his memories, giving him different memories from what he had, and we can change his personality so that what he used to like he now dislikes, and vice versa. Then we transplant the doctored brain into a different body, a body completely different in size and shape from the body that Ray had before. Then we wake him up, and his name is Scott, for his new memories tell him that he has always been Scott. There is no subjective

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

We can imagine an individual, Ray, whom we put to sleep. We then take his brain out of his body, but keep it alive by artificial means. We can imagine a technology that enables us to open his brain and tinker with it: We can change his memories, giving him different memories from what he had, and we can change his personality so that what he used to like he now dislikes, and vice versa. Then we transplant the doctored brain into a different body, a body completely different in size and shape from the body that Ray had before. Then we wake him up, and his name is Scott, for his new memories tell him that he has always been Scott. There is no subjective

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Focusing on this new time-gap:

Nicos' stream of thought halts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

I can't convince you can I?

Second objection:

A second and similar objection concerns the slippery transfer of thought between lives.

The "transfer" of Nicos' thoughts (and, by inference, personal identity) to Thanos seems in a way too easy. If we grant that a subjective passage from Nicos to Thanos is possible, it remains to be demonstrated that Nicos' passage to Thanos is the only one possible. Why should Nicos not pass to Casta, for example? Or to some person who might walk into their idyllic cosmos some hundreds of years hence? This objection asks for a justification of the claim that Thanos, in particular, must receive the passage.

We can build a reply to this objection by making use of a prior result, in which we found that personal identity is fashioned out of the three Great Criteria exclusively: emerging through the bodily dynamics of continuity, subjectivity, memory

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted

Focusing on this new time-gap:

Nicos' stream of thought halts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now