Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: Saibal Mitra <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 15:07:26 +0200

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stathis Papaioannou" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 09:23 AM
Subject: Re: A calculus of personal identity

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
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?

You can take time evolution as an example. In both classical physics and
quantum mechanics, information is preserved. All the information about us
was already present in the early universe....


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Received on Fri Jun 30 2006 - 09:08:37 PDT

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