[extropy-chat] Life and Death is not like 1 and 0

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Apr 29 01:26:16 UTC 2007

Heartland writes

>> So the challenge for Heartland amounts to this:  just how long does
>> a patient's EEG need go to zero for the person to have died?
> The only reason why I mentioned "flat EEG" was because I consider flat EEG a first 
> available and objectively verifiable evidence that the last instance of mind 
> process has expired. In reality, an actual death of an instance occurs much earlier 
> which is far more difficult to explain..
> Obviously it is a death of an instance but an instance of what? After all, humans 
> are collections of many physical processes and it is important to identify only 
> that subset of these processes that cause life...
> But before we can go any further with this investigation we need new clues that 
> arrive after spending some time on defining what it means exactly "to live." I 
> define "living" as being able to "access reality" which reduces to being able to 
> think and process sensory information. I survive only by maintaining that access 
> and perish when I lose it.

First objection: are you dead in a sensory deprivation chamber?  How about for
prolonged periods of time?  Is being in a coma the same as having died?  Is
being asleep tantamount to having perished?

>> What if the left hemisphere has its brain activity totally shut down by drugs
>> or temporary freezing? Is some fraction of the person now dead, even though
>> he appears to have been wholly restored?
> It sounds like some degree of access to reality throughout the procedure was being 
> maintained. The patient survives.

I'm glad that you are starting to at least use the terminology "to some degree". 
Yet by "The patient survives" you're still clinging to it being an all or nothing
proposition. I prophesy that will be trouble for you.

What if 99% of your brain is temporarily frozen?  What about 30% or 50%.
Don't plead too much ignorance as to the specifics of brain function:  do you
really imagine that reality can be forced into "yes, he survived with 100%
fidelty" or "no, he did not survive at all"?


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