RE: Belief Statements

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 15:37:42 +0100

At 01:32 16/01/05 +1100, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>On 15/1/05 Bruno Marchal wrote:
>>Obviously! But it is so only because you dismiss the "failure induction
>>problem". Also: third person identity is arguably an illusion. But I
>>hardy doubt first person identity can ever be an illusion or that it
>>could even be useful to consider like it. What is painful in pain for the
>>suffering first person is mainly that the pain can last, and this
>>independently of any precise idea the first person could have about who she is.
>This type of argument is often used to support the more "common sense"
>position on personal identity, but it is flawed. If I believe (as I do)
>that my future will consist of a series of people who live only for a
>moment, who believe they are me and share most of my memories, but aside
>from this similarity are no more "me" than any stranger is, then I
>shouldn't worry about "my" future suffering any more than I should worry
>about the suffering of a stranger. As a matter of fact, I would worry more
>if I expected to be tortured tomorrow than if I expected someone else
>would be tortured tomorrow. Therefore, the idea that continuity of
>personal identity is an illusion must be wrong, or at least my claim to
>believe this idea must be disingenuous.
>In fact, all this argument shows is that humans, and for that matter other
>animals, have evolved to behave as if the conventional view of personal
>identity is true. It is so primitive and deep-seated that "belief" is
>probably not the best word for it; it is more a feeling or instinct. And
>it is certainly not something I can overcome with mere reason!

Nor is it interesting to do so. I don't think any notion of prediction keep
sense. I am probably a little more oriented toward Popper-refutable
theories where predictions are senseful.

>There wouln't be much point in arguing about all this if it were not for
>the theoretical possibility of teleportation, multiple universes, time
>travel and so on. Efforts to save the conventional view of personal
>identity in discussing these matters result in a complicated mess. If we
>allow that all that exists is individual moments of first person
>experience which can be grouped according to their similarity, as a stamp
>collector groups stamps, giving the impression of continuous streams of
>consciousness, all the apparent paradoxes and other difficulties disappear.

But I am interested in the probabilities of those "impressions of
continuous streams". And I think those probabilities are relative (like in
Everett relative state theory). Also if WE are machine then the physical
laws are emergent on relations between numbers, and this in a sufficiently
precise way to be tested; making the comp assumption (theory) Popper
refutable itself.

Received on Mon Jan 17 2005 - 09:37:45 PST

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