Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: <>
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 11:10:57 -0400

Hello, Quentin:
we agree in spite of a different formulation:

"death" - I wrote about it as a process in a concept, while I feel you refer
to the 'death' of a 'person' or whatever, as a state.

The person (or whatever) is a complex entity of its (his?) interconnected
and self-reflective (yes, even 'lifeless' features) components - in
connection with "the rest of the world" and when "death" (my semantics)
steps in - such complex entity starts ;losing connection and accordingly
ceases to exist altogether (as in its entirety). Portions of it do not
qualify for the (entire) complex entity subjected to the 'death' (your
semantics) process. It may continue to be something partially similar, but
not anymore the entire complex. I have to differentiate in this respect
between "essential" and "non essential" ingredients: a limb does not seem to
be essential to a person, so the loss of a leg does not destroy the 'person'
complexity into death. Even a (larger) part of the neuronic brain is not
necessarily 'death-inducing', nor the partial loss of mentality. I have yet
to find the criteria for identifying the kinds of 'ingredients' the loss
(destruction, paralysis, dysfunction) of which we may qualify for
'death-inducing' - I do not rely on the ongoing medical terms which allow
'near-death' and reversible 'clinical' death (coma?) and consider the
medically pronounceable death in a physiological restriction.
I have no acceptable (for me) identification for "life". For sure I consider
it wider than the churning of C-H-O-N based molecules in the Terrestrial

Feeling identical with that kid of 5 is a funny notion: emotionally it is
memory of that early "I" in my present terms, mentality is the present one,
not that 5 year old (logic, experience, cognitive inventory, even use of
memes) and - allegedly none of my present 'atoms' in my 'body' is the same
anymore. So what is what I feel as "MYSELF"? In spite of Saibal's 'killing
of a person by adding too much new information to his experience'??? I am
still 'alive'(?) and feel identical to that (Saibal-killed) infant. And when
I die, that kid also dies (with/in me).

This question of the two of us is real, within common sense normalcy, no
teleportation or duplication involved.


John M

----- Original Message -----
From: "Quentin Anciaux" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 6:51 PM
Subject: Re: A calculus of personal identity

Hi John,

Le Vendredi 30 Juin 2006 21:06, John M a écrit :
> An interesting observation from Saibal that increasing
> the info-input to one's brain kills person(ality?).
> I would not say "dead", rather 'changed' as into some
> different one. (It is a gradual change, death is being
> thought of as something more abrupt and
> comprehensive.)

For me death means to never be conscious again... never. That's why death is
meaningless in a 1st person point of view, because it is impossible by
definition to feel being dead, because if you could feel being dead, it
you're not (dead), if you were by definition you couldn't feel/experience

So "the you" at 3 years old could not be dead, because you remember being it
(in your "bones"). That's why I think speaking of 1st person
experience/identity as being illusionary is a bad step for explaining 1st
person experience, which is the only thing we ever experience, the only real
thing we can be sure of.

> In spite of that, knowing that when as a 5-yo I had
> different person-ality and ideas, brainfunction and
> emotions, I still feel NOW identity with THAT PERSON.

I totally agree with this. And I think speaking (bis repetita) of 1st person
experience/continuous identity through time as being an illusion can not
explain the feeling of being "a self" every day till ... ? ;)

> The best
> John M


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Received on Sun Jul 02 2006 - 11:48:33 PDT

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