[extropy-chat] Avoid Too Much Change

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Apr 9 03:20:50 UTC 2007

On 4/9/07, Randall Randall <randall at randallsquared.com> wrote:
> On Apr 8, 2007, at 1:40 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > But you probably have a lot more in common with Max More than you
> > do with your infant self. This example is one more reason why there
> > is no "truth of the matter" about continuity of personal identity
> > from moment to moment. Like free will, it's an illusion which is
> > very important to maintain, otherwise we will be unhappy.
> Well... *someone* will be unhappy.  Whether *we* will is the
> heart of the matter, isn't it?

By "we" I mean the present observer moment, who has certain beliefs about
the person he will become in future which are shown to be irrational by
various duplication thought experiments. For example, if I am to be
destructively analysed today and two copies of me made tomorrow, one of whom
will be tortured, I am worried, because I feel there is a 1/2 chance I will
be tortured. But come tomorrow, if I am not the one being tortured, I am
relieved, despite feeling sorry for my twin screaming in the next room. Now,
why should I identify equally with both copies today, but much more with one
copy rather than the other tomorrow? Why should I identify with either copy
tomorrow given that I will be killed by the destructive analyser today? Why
should I identify with my future self several hence hence in the course of
ordinary life given that he will hardly contain any of the matter in my
present body and probably even his memory and thoughts will be only
approximations of my present memories and thoughts?

That is why I say that the only absolute, unequivocal usage of the first
person (singular) pronoun is in referring to the present observer moment.
Our ordinary usage of it has evolved in the absence of duplication, time
travel, travel to meet parallel selves in other universes; considering these
theoretical possibilities shows our previously rock-solid beliefs about
personal identity to be fundamentally flawed.

Stathis Papaioannou
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