[ExI] Continuity of experience

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Tue Feb 23 17:51:15 UTC 2010

<ablainey at aol.com>:
> Just as with a single body your brain lobes are very different but still
> part of the whole M.
> I see this as comparable to cutting off your own leg, posting it to
> somewhere sunny so it can get a nice tan
> and then sewing it back on. It is still your leg and part of you, but its
> life has been different.


There's only one problem that I can see: in your hypothetical, as in
mine, the two copies of me are never re-attached in the manner of a
suntanned leg. You can certainly make the argument that they retain a
"connection" of some type, even if they only speak to each other once
a century.

They can be considered two parts of the same M-possessing whole, that
way, but you can make exactly the same argument for any pair of
individuals whatsoever as long as their lives detectably influence
each other at least once. Who's to say that not everyone shares the
same M?

On the other hand, what happens if the doubles DO rejoin into one
individual later on? Well, then we have a Dr. McNinja scenario!


(That's page 19. There is a bunch of other magnificent nonsense earlier on.)

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> I wonder how it is that you can point out the stupidity of this
> question so clearly:
>> [I say something clever]
> And yet still come to this absurd conclusion:
>> [I say something less clever]

Yeah, so do I.

It isn't even accurate to call that a "conclusion", really, because it
doesn't follow from any of the preceding logical statements. It stands
on its own, short-circuiting the whole process of reasoning.

At that point I was just saying: well, all of this logic is pointing
me towards a conclusion which I am constitutionally incapable of
accepting. My hand is forced!

The question of continuity is interesting to me because of how trivial
it is in theory, and how difficult it is to genuinely grasp.

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> Incidentally, the question of personal identity is not the same as the
> question of existence of the self or of consciousness, and it is not
> the same as what you call M.

If I understand you, I agree. It is possible for two clones to share a
personal identity, which I associate with memory, without sharing the
same M.

Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
> I am happy to say that there is no self
> and no consciousness, in the sense meant by most of those people who
> deny these things. In any case, I am happy to say that I am a
> different self, person or consciousness from moment to moment, and
> that the idea that I remain the "same" person is a delusion.
> Nevertheless, it is very important to me that this delusion continue
> in much the same way as it always has.

Would it satisfy you if, at the moment of your death, a person similar
to the one in my Napoleon argument were to suddenly acquire the
delusion of being Stathis Papaioannou?

The assumption, again, would be that they know more about your life
than anyone else in the world after you die. They would be a
nearly-perfect mimic. Surely, the difference between your mind and
your mimic's mind would be no greater than the difference between your
mind as it is now and your mind as it was ten years ago. Is this any
different from transferring your mind to a new body?

This seems consistent with your statements, but I'm willing to bet
you'll think that this solution to the problem of mortality is
inadequate in some way. Maybe something to do with the infeasibility
of such a specific, high-quality delusion forming in a random
passerby. That's really just for show, though. You can ratchet down
the accuracy of the mimic as much as you like, and the conclusions
should remain pretty much the same (if less obvious).

My answer would be that your mimic lacks M; continuity of experience
is broken in exactly the same way that it would be in the case of a
freeze-and-scan resurrection. It's simply a less sophisticated
technology. The same thing is accomplished with less precision. But, I
am open to alternate explanations.

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