Re: [Fwd: NDPR David Shoemaker, Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction]

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 22:27:56 +0100

On 17 Mar 2009, at 19:29, John Mikes wrote:

> Bruno:
> before youcontinue reading (what you forgot in total amnesia<G> ) a
> question:
> You wrote among others:
> "...Note that with high concentrated extract of Salvia Divinorum,
> people can "suffer" (or "enjoy") a total amnesia, where you forget
> not just your name and memories of life, but you forget even what is
> a person, what is space, what is time. Yet you remain conscious...."
> How do you define "conscious" for a state without ANY memory
> working in your mindset?

I cannot define "conscious" for a state with memory. How could I ever
be able to define "conscious" for a state without any memory?

But I am also not really saying "without any memory", I said "without
any memory of ...", and then a list with "my usual memories, person,
space, time. But in that experience you feel like you recover your
real identity, or older memories, and it happens that that identity
has nothing to do with memory, except you remember that, or perhaps
better you just feel very familar with the state. A big déjà-vu. Some
describes this as a new quale. I can hardly describe the "feeling",
like you can hardly describe the feeling of seeing blue to a blind.
This is true in fine and precision for all consciousness experience,
and that is why we have poets and artists.

> How can you 'understand' anything (to become 'aware' of?) -

I don't even really try to understand. I just live it. When I try to
understand I use a theory and logic, etc. When I live, I eat, or I
sleep, and in this case I smoke a psycho-active product (like alcohol
or tea, except salvia seems more safe, even if it seems more
impressive than the experience with tea).

> You may experience a connectionless and meaningless wirwar emerging
> in (literally) senseless randomity - not even recognizing that it is
> a 'view', a 'sound', or 'idea' until you 'deveop' SOME connections
> (right or wrong).

I certainly develop connexion; like with the "Lady Salvia". The salvia
experience is like dream, except it is of a different nature, but it
has repeatable patterns, including connecting and disconnecting many
things. Then you learn by discussing with others. It provides some new
angle on consciousness.

> Then you have a 'perceived (solipsist) world to be 'aware of'.

This is already interpretating too much. I don't interpret. It is raw
experiences. I discuss with other people of their raw experiences, and
we learn in the traditional non-solipsist way. Of course, with
consciousness, each of us is its own only guinea pig).

> Now in that you can continue reading. But what will you read?...

With comp I have a subtheory which predicts that some perturbation of
the brain (or computer) can lower down your brain capacity of
filtering of consciousness. I am still not sure. I have made dreams
which confirms feeling of "higher order" form of consciousness, but
typically my brain was more active (REM state). I am not reading
something. Just taking the opportunity that a product, which in my
opinion is very safe (certainly much safer than alcohol, tobacco), can
lead you easily to a, rather fascinating, "altered state of
consciousness" to learn, perhaps something on "consciousness",
perhaps something on realities.

> Regards (hopefully with retained memory, so I still remember you...)

Memory is very important. But even just to manage them well, we have
to forget things. We forget things all the time. The relation of
consciousness and memory is a fascinating question, and the experience
of salvia, has already shaken some certainties I still had (without
knowing). It has certainly renewed my interest in the fuse thought
experiment, a bit like the movie "the prestige". Forgetting is the
path to abstraction; which is useful in the comprehension search.

I have also discovered that plant helps also headache, also on other
people, especially the real "migraine". I will not try to make a list
of benefits of that plant, it would be like a propaganda. It is a
lovely magic plant which seems to have something to say :)

Best regards,


> John M
> On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 2:05 PM, Bruno Marchal <>
> wrote:
> On 16 Mar 2009, at 13:31, Quentin Anciaux wrote:
>> Hi Bruno,
>> 2009/3/15 Bruno Marchal <>
>> Hi Günther,
>> >
>> > Hi Bruno,
>> >
>> > thanks for your interesting answer, I have some questions though.
>> >
>> >> course, as I said, this will depend of what you mean by "you". In
>> >> case
>> >> you accept the idea of surviving with amnesia, you can even get
>> to a
>> >> state where you "know" you are immortal, because your immortality
>> >> is a
>> >> "past event".
>> >
>> >
>> > I would equate total amnesia with death (we've been through this
>> > before,
>> > Stathis has written about this, if I remember correctly).
>> I remember Quentin identifying himself with his memory, and very
>> logically, identifying total amnesia with death.
>> It is a complex matter. Total amnesia concern only some form of
>> declarative knowledge, you cannot loss your "procedural memory",
>> because it is part of ... arithmetic, and common to all elementary
>> knowers.
>> Well I agree that in total amnesia thought experiment... well the
>> amnesia is not total... the subject still knows his former language
>> and other knowledge... except all knowledges/memories about *who*
>> he was is lost. And in this sense IF in one minute I lose these
>> memories about my current ME, then my current ME is dead for all
>> practical purpose. And IF mwi and/or comp is true then there must
>> exists a moment which is a successor of current ME without the
>> current ME memories being lost... so I should end up in this state
>> and not in the state where my identity was erased because like I
>> can't be where I'm dead... I can't be where I'm not. The 'I' which
>> is referred is the one with memories, the one without cannot
>> meaningfully say he is a successor of me now, except if he sees
>> like in real world "total" amnesia case that his body was mine and
>> causally connected to mine. But in comp sense this is not
>> meaningful... If my mind can be copied and transferred in a "metal"
>> body, this metal body is not causally connected to my biological
>> body... but that mind is a continuation of current me.
>> So in this sense, if you say that it is possible that all successor
>> moment to a moment could lead to a "total" amnesia, then QI is
>> false... or tautologically true because it means you are everyone
>> (ie: no one). But for all practical purpose current ME would be dead.
> Hmmm...
> I ask you, and others, this question. What is the probability "now",
> that you will find yourself in Washington and Moscow the 24 december
> 2009, when you are annihilated in Brussels, now, (17 March 2009) and
> reconstituted in both Moscow and Washington the 18 March 2009, say)?
> The problem is that the reconstitution machine did dysfunction in
> Washington, so that, from the 18 March 2009 up to the 20 Augustus
> 2009 you (the you in Washington) suffered a "total amnesia". And
> then, "you" recovered slowly and progressively from that through
> adequate medication up to a total recall, the 23 December (and none
> of yous did move from W or M).
> Note that with high concentrated extract of Salvia Divinorum, people
> can "suffer" (or "enjoy") a total amnesia, where you forget not just
> your name and memories of life, but you forget even what is a
> person, what is space, what is time. Yet you remain conscious. Life
> appears as a dream, that you recall vaguely, and then forget, and
> then you forget you did that dream. Yet "you" come back. (See the
> reports, I don't encourage its consumption, but anyone interested by
> consciousness can be interested by such reports).
>> I'll continue to read the rest of the mail.
> OK.
> Regards,
> Bruno
> >

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Received on Wed Mar 18 2009 - 17:28:10 PDT

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