RE: Re: A calculus of personal identity

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 22:00:00 +1000

Quentin Anciaux writes:
> 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 means > you're not (dead), if you were by definition you couldn't feel/experience it.
OK, that's a reasonable working definition of death...
> So "the you" at 3 years old could not be dead, because you remember being it > (in your "bones").
You remember being 3, but it's probably nothing like being 3. It is possible that your brain has changed so much in the interim that even though you now remember being 3 "in your bones", almost no aspect of this memory is anything quite like the original experience. In fact, people might completely forget things that happened to them in early childhood, or might "remember" things that didn't happen to them at all, or happened to someone else. Imagine what would happen if we did not have continuous conscious experience in the one body, if we could edit our memories at will, if we could download other peoples' memories or other mental attributes - including that bone-deep sense of identity, which whatever else it is must also be somehow physically imprinted in our brains.
> > 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 ... ? ;)
Why not? If you were killed every night in your sleep and the next day a close copy reconstructed complete with memories (to the same extent as they are preserved "naturally" from day to day as our brain falls apart and is rebuilt by the neuronal nanomachinery), how would you know the difference? Unless you answer this question by saying that if your brain structure were preserved in the copying from day to day then continuity of identity is not an illusion, by definition... but then what if the copying after you are killed is delayed, or 1% more degradation than naturally occurs is allowed every cycle, or zero degradation is allowed but 1% false memories are added every cycle: would the strong feeling that you were the same person from day to day (which would still be present) then qualify as an illusion?
Stathis Papaioannou
Be one of the first to try Windows Live Mail.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at
Received on Mon Jul 03 2006 - 08:01:03 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:11 PST