Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 11:10:51 -0700

Saibal Mitra wrote:
> ----- 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
> 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?
> 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....

That is not a consensus theory. The Copenhagen and other intepretations in which the wave-function
collapses provide for growing information. Even many of those who assume a strictly unitary
evolution, suppose that the net information is zero or very small: the information we see is
cancelled by negative information embodied in correlations with particles that inflation has pushed
beyond our horizon.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Fri Jun 30 2006 - 14:11:55 PDT

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