[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal Identity Paradox)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jul 15 12:24:08 UTC 2007

Russell writes

> On 7/15/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> > What we have reached is the uncomfortable conclusion that
> > what happens to you (or happened to you) in the past is
> > every bit as worthy of anticipation as events that are
> > scheduled to happen in your future. This demolishes any 
> > rational or consistent use of *anticipation* that I have
> > ever been able to formulate. This is most unfortunate,
> > because feelings of anticipation are hardwired at a very
> > fundamental level into our selves and our motivations. 
> Didn't we conclude last time we had this conversation that
> this is only true in strange situations such as the one you
> describe? Anticipation is an evolved heuristic that says
> "pay attention to those segments of spacetime whose utility
> one can causally influence"; in most practical situations that
> means your future self, or the future selves of people close
> to you, so it remains rational to anticipate tonight's dinner
> but not last night's. The heuristic isn't perfect in all conceivable
> situations of course, but then no heuristic is.

Yes, you're right:  I think we did.  We know what anticipation 
is.  It's just an evolutionarily derived useful bias to treasure
future beneficial or pleasant events and work for their recurrence.
But it's an *overpowering* sense, and it is what keeps a lot of
people from understanding (in my opinion) that duplicates are

Evolution made a rough approximation:  don't identify with 
anything outside your skin in the sense of anticipating actually
feeling their pain.  The patternist view of identity suggests 
that this "bio-unit is all important" bias should be replaced
with a "this pattern is all important".  But the present day 
feelings of anticipation cannot, so far as I know, be consistently
worked into providing guidance between choice A and choice
B in these unusal cases (as you say).  You are probably right
about there being no perfect heuristic;  but anticipation is *so*
overwhelmingly powerful as a guide to action that it poses a
real problem.


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