Re: Quantum accident survivor

From: Eric Cavalcanti <>
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 19:13:33 -0200


----- Original Message -----
From: "Pete Carlton" <>
Subject: Re: Quantum accident survivor

> > But in this case there is clearly
> > no 'soul' or anything other than the configuration of atoms
> > to describe what we call 'ourselves'. In any branching of
> > the multiverse there are multiple copies of my body being
> > produced. Nevertheless, I only experience one of those
> > states. Therefore, I guess the best I could say is that ' I '
> > is one of the instances of this configuration.
> When it becomes difficult to say things about "I", I find it helps to
> attempt to cast the entire situation into 3rd-person terms. I would
> say here that under MWI (and UD, and the rest..) there is a ensemble of
> entities more or less similar to Eric. Some of these are different
> enough that they could be considered different people (such as the Eric
> who inherited a billion dollars when he was 12 years old), some of them
> quite similar (such as the Eric who lives where the ambient room
> temperature is 2 degrees colder) and some of them are so similar
> (different only temporarily or unnoticeably, or at the quantum level)
> that they can't be told apart. "Individual Eric"s within the ensemble
> can be seen to actually each consist in a fuzzy set of
> indistinguishable Erics. The "boundaries" between sets demarcate where
> differences at the finest-grained levels start to make a difference at
> levels that an Eric can notice, given the kinds of observations he's
> making. The boundaries being "fuzzy" means just that there is no fact
> of the matter which other copies are really "you" and which are not.
> This is not a problem! Well, it is a problem if you insist on some
> definition of "I", like that of Descartes, that rules this out; then
> you must argue for that definition.

In a materialistic framework, ' I ' am a bunch of atoms. These atoms
happen to constitute a system that has self-referential qualities that
we call consciousness. If it happened that these atoms temporarily
(like in a coma or anesthesy) or permanently (death) lose this quality,
so will ' I '.
It is not useful to talk about 1st person experiences in 3rd person
terms, since when we do that we lose the very thing that we want
to study.

> > Let me stress this point: *I am, for all practical purposes,
> > one and only one specific configuration of atoms in a
> > specific universe. I could never say that ' I ' is ALL the
> > copies, since I NEVER experience what the other copies
> > experience.
> Here I think you're making an assumption. You are certainly not ALL the
> copies, but then it doesn't follow that you are only 1. "You" could be
> a fuzzy set of copies that have experiences so similar that they cannot
> be told apart. That is, they cannot be told apart >yet<. Unnoticeable
> differences eventually can percolate up and make a noticeable
> difference, or they can be made noticeable by making more sensitive
> observations.

Yes, I am making an assumption, and working through it. The
assumption is that there is nothing external to the physical body to
account for consciousness. A particular atom interacts with the atoms
or other particles in its universe only (interference is not interaction).
Therefore a set of atoms do the same. All experience comes from the
interactons that take place in a particular universe. There are certainly
a set of universes so similar that cannot be told apart. But after any
event (like a particle's interaction with another, or someone's death at
a larger scale) these universes have decohered enough so that you
cannot equalize them anymore.
I think that when people respond to this question they forget the
assumption that I am making and argue assuming other philosophical

> > When some people suppose that our next experience is
> > necessarily one of the alive ones, they are tacitly assuming
> > a dualistic position.
> I think they are indeed making an assumption, but not necessarily a
> dualistic one. They are making the assumption that there is always a
> "way out" - that in every set of "I"'s who encounter a dangerous
> situation, there is always at least one that has a continuation. There
> is no need to postulate some "soul" leaping from one body-copy to
> another.
> If a large set of Eric-equivalents encounter a really dangerous
> situation, most will not continue, but as long as this assumption holds:
> "(The set of reasonably similar Eric-equivalents) contains
> (The set of Erics who are unnoticeably different from you) which
> contains
> (The set of Erics who have a living continuation after event X)
> which has at least one member."
> then you will not experience yourself dying. I think this is how
> materialism can accomodate QTI. I do think a better attack on QTI is
> that the final part of the above assumption (the last set has at least
> one member) isn't well-argued for. Even if these Eric-sets are
> infinite there may not be an Eric who survives, say, the sun exploding;
> just as the infinite set of composite numbers doesn't contain any
> primes.

I do partially agree with the above. I am not disputing the fact that
there will be 'Erics' who will survive any dangerous situation. But we
are forgetting the fact that most of them will in fact die! And the
probability that I am one of them is just the measure of those universes
where I die. Do you agree that SOME people die? If you are not a
solipsist and you are a materialist, then you must agree that those
people, which had nothing external to their bodies, have just lost their
consciousness and will never regain it, even if in other universes, a copy
of these people do in fact survive. So since you are no different from
the other people, you must agree that you have the same probability of
dying at any event.
> > But if we decide to accept a dualistic framework QTI would
> > probably be the least probable scenario. We could as well say
> > that the next experience would be of many other kinds: in other
> > bodies, reincarnation, or any transcedental experience like
> > going to heaven - there is no reason to decide between these.
> I think this reduces to the white rabbit problem again. The next
> experience could *always* be of many other kinds, whether we've just
> had a dangerous event or not. I think it is an interesting question
> though, for surviving a fall from a cliff, say, certainly seems like a
> "white rabbit" event. Perhaps one would conjecture that under QTI,
> "white rabbit" events that allow incredible survival must still be as
> mediocre as possible.
> > For instance, QTI poses a difficulty for the dualist: at each
> > moment, if QTI and is true, an infinity of 'souls' is merging into
> > one single body, since this body is dying at an infinity of other
> > universes. How does this square with the common definition
> > of a 'soul' as an immaterial *individuality*?
> >
> I think this is the least of dualism's problems..=)
> Best regards,
> Pete
Received on Fri Nov 07 2003 - 07:59:52 PST

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