Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 17:23:42 +1000

Brent Meeker writes:
> > I think it is one of the most profound things about consciousness > > that observer moments don't *need* anything to connect them other than > > their content. They are linked like the novels in a series, not like the > > carriages of a train. It is not necessary that the individual novels be > > lined up specially on a shelf: as long as they have each been written > > and exist somewhere in the world, the series exists. > > But the series exists, as a series, by virtue of the information in them. They are like Barbour's > time-capsules; each contains enough references and characters from the others to allow them to be > put into order. It's not clear to me what duration "obserever moments" have - but I don't think > they are novel length. I imagine them more like sentences (a complete thought as my English teacher > used to say), and sentences *don't* have enough information to allow them to be reconstructed into > the novel they came from.
A book is the analogy that came to mind, but there is an important difference between this and conscious experience. Books, sentences, words may not need to be physically collected together to make a coherent larger structure, but they do need to be somehow sorted in the mind of an observer; otherwise, we could say that a dictionary contains every book ever written or yet to be written. Moments of consciousness, on the other hand, by their nature contain their own observer.
> That's why I suggest that OMs are not an adequate ontological basis for a world model. On the other > hand, if we include brain processes, or more abstractly, subconscious thoughts, then we would have > enough information to string them together.
I know some people on this list have attempted world-building with OMs, but my starting point is the less ambitious idea that consciousness can in principle extend across time and space without being specially linked. If a person's stream of consciousness were chopped up into seconds, minutes, days or whatever, using whatever vehicle it takes to run a human mind, and these moments of consciousness randomly dispersed throughout the multiverse, they would all connect up by virtue of their information content. Do you disagree that it would in principle be possible?
Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Fri Jun 30 2006 - 03:24:44 PDT

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