[extropy-chat] Meta re recurring threads was Personal Identity Bis

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sat Apr 14 08:52:02 UTC 2007

On 4/14/07, Keith Henson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:

I wondered why these identity threads seemed so old to me.  Various moves
> and escapes have winnowed my SF collection to a remnant, but I kept
> several
> by A.E. Van Vogt including _The World of Null A_.  I don't know how many
> here have read it, but the copyright is 1945.  That *62* years ago.
> I just reread it.
> None of the identity arguments on this or any other forum I have seen has
> added a new idea to those expressed in that story written in 1945.
> I.e., it's much older than a decade, and who knows, Van Vogt probably
> stole
> it from some even older source.
> The meta question is why people continue to rehash this topic and several
> others?  It can't be just a part of growing up because some I know are not
> that much younger than I am.

John Locke's "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" published in 1689 is
often cited as the first reference in modern works on personal identity, and
it is still a subject of active philosophical discussion. I'm pretty clear
in my own views, but it seems I disagree on many details even with those who
basically agree with me that a copy of a person is as good as the original.
So one reason the topic is continually rehashed (in addition to the fact
that there are those who aren't at all convinced) is that there are
intricacies involved, such as Lee Corbin's anticipation paradox, which are
not immediately evident.

The objection raised by Keith also seems symptomatic to me of a hostility by
some on this list towards philosophy in general (a philosopher would not
dismiss a problem simply on the grounds that it has been discussed for 200
or 2000 years without resolution). This is a little odd given that, like it
or not, transhumanism is a philosophical movement as much as it is anything.
I would also point out that people such as Max More, Nick Bostrom and Anders
Sandberg are all professionally trained philosophers.

Stathis Papaioannou
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