RE: many worlds theory of immortality

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 13:48:27 +1000

Brent Meeker wrote:

> >I feel that I am the same person as I was five years ago even though
> >any of the atoms in my body are the same now as then. The body and brain
> >the younger me have disintegrated as completely as if I had died and been
> >cremated. Certainly, the change has been gradual over time, but the fact
> >remains that I am now comprised of different matter, with different
> >spacetime coordinates, in a configuration only approximately copying that
> >my younger self. Moreover, my reconstructed brain provides me with only
> >approximately the same memories as my younger self, in addition to the
> >memories. Without resorting to science fiction thought experiments (mind
> >uploading, teleportation etc.), I think this demonstrates that
> >and personal identity are malleable and mobile, even if you restrict
> >yourself to implementation on brains.
>But there is a causal, material chain connecting your brain today and your
>younger brain. If your brain suffers a concussion or anesthesia, do you
>suppose your consciousness goes somewhere else?
>Brent Meeker

Why should this "causal, material chain" be significant to the final result?
Your body slowly disintegrates and is (approximately) reconstructed atom by
atom, so you don't notice a discontinuity, and it doesn't hurt. If the
timing and order of the process were changed, so that your body is destroyed
in one operation and a copy reconstructed at a different place and time in
another operation, all you would notice is a period of unconsciousness, like
being knocked out and waking up later in hospital.

As for where your consciousness "goes" when you are unconscious, that is my
point: it doesn't "go" anywhere. Consciousness (and the associated sense of
personal identity) is a process, not a material object. You can still make
the point that we have no evidence that human-level consciousness can be
implemented outside of a human brain, but I believe the above considerations
show that it is not tied to a particular brain.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Mon Apr 18 2005 - 23:57:24 PDT

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