[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal Identity Paradox)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Jul 18 08:51:18 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

>> In your medical practice, have you yourself been under the influence
>> of midazolam?  (Sorry if we've had this discussion before---I really
>> don't keep as straight as I should who has said what  months ago.)
> No, but I've probably given it to hundreds of patients in anaesthetics
> (IV), paediatrics (squirted into the mouth of the little struggling
> tyke with a syringe) and psychiatry (IM). BTW, midazolam is nothing
> special as a drug, being just a short-acting benzodiazepine. Diazepam
> (Valium) has a similar, if slightly weaker, amnesic effect if given
> IV, and a wide variety of other sedative drugs, like alcohol, also
> have the same effect in sufficiently high dosages.
> ...
> One complicating factor with midazolam is that it is a very powerful
> anxiolytic at the dosages that produce amnesia, so that patients are
> basically too zonked out to care much about what is happening to them
> anyway.

Thanks for the info on midazolam:  I had never considered that I might
be in any but an ordinary state of mind.  (Never been drunk myself, etc.)

> That consideration aside, one reason it is not as frightening
> as death is that, as you say, at the point where you about to take the
> drug, death is not guaranteed in the way it is guaranteed if you are
> about to have a lethal injection. But having taken the drug, it should
> be just like waiting for your execution. If it isn't disturbing, then
> to be consistent waiting for your execution shouldn't be disturbing
> either.

Actually I would not---as you suspect---be all that perturbed at 
knowing that I was going to lose memories.  For example, it would
be rather swell if I lost all of today's memories between 3pm and 6pm  :-)

I believe to the core of my innermost being that duplicates are selves.
It may be that to you this is nothing more than a severe self-brainwashing,
but as you know there are substantial arguments to back up this view.
In fact, Max More wrote a very nice article in my current issue of
Cryonet.  While he did not quite get into the existence of multiple
copies of one, he did embrace the information theory of death.

(And I know from his "Luckiest Man in the Universe" scenario, in which
Francis Bacon by sheer luck is brought back to life by a random
collision of molecules---and argued by Max to be just as legitimate
a copy of Bacon as was the original---is bolstered by quite a few
arguments in his thesis.  Anyway, while it may be less than a self-
inflicted brainwashing, it is more than just my opinion.

However, in the same article Ben Goetzel defends what I call the
"path conception of identity", in which the final *state* is not
what is important, and is not evaluation, but the *path* by which
the state is reached.  A good friend of mine endorses this path-
view of identity.  Perhaps you'd find it appealing too.

>> So let's say that you have terminal cancer (heaven forbid), and
>> are going to die in three months, and it so happens that a copy
>> of you was made four months ago, and frozen, and can be cured.
>> If I understand correctly, you do not believe that you will survive
>> in this scenario. Therefore, do you care whether your duplicate
>> is defrosted and continues your projects, or a brand new (and
>> very energetic and thorough) person is found in the unemployment
>> lines who will capably continue your projects?   (And let's leave
>> out, for convenience, any familial attachments and so on that are
>> in principle irrelevant.)
> I don't see why I should prefer that the duplicate be defrosted.

Yup.  I guess we're at an impasse here.  To me, the structure is
everything, the pattern is everything, and to you it's simply not.

> This is going on my standard issue feelings about what it means to survive.
> If I can overcome these feelings, which I admit are not based on any
> logic or empirical fact, then I could as easily decide that the
> survival of my duplicate is no more consolation than the survival of a
> similarly capable different person.

Yes, well, I'd never go for that!  :-)

> What this whole topic means to me is that death is not what I thought
> it was 20 years ago. If I can convince myself that I die every moment,
> or die through memory loss, or survive through a copy (even an old
> copy), or any of the other complicated variations we discuss, then
> death ceases to be absolute or straightforward, and becomes less
> worrying even if nothing in the world changes. I hope that doesn't
> sound like bioluddite thanatolatry, because I still wish that some
> version of me will see the far future.

Me too, in both senses!  (I.e., I both wish that you see the far future,
and I as well.)


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