[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma (Personal Identity Paradox)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Jul 21 03:32:05 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

> On 19/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
>> > (e) Therefore, maybe death is not bad if someone with some of my past
>> > experiences is left behind.
>> ...A wife who loves her husband but realizes that her
>> husband is to lose all of today's memories is probably far less
>> concerned than she would be if he were to break an arm.
>> We could *suppose* that she is correct.
>> Here in (e) of course you're using a meaning of "death" that is
>> at odds with the one I use. But from your point of view, yes,
>> I guess I can't argue with your logic.
> I could have been more precise by using a term like quasi-death for
> the death of an instance, or for the death experienced through memory
> loss, the point being to work out whether it was this quasi-death that
> I feared all along when I feared death, or something else.

I like the potential distinction that you introduce with this 
term "quasi-death".  After all, it seems necessary for an instance
to identify with *just* his particular instance when, say, certain
painful operations are scheduled for the near future. I still think
of this as the person's "lower values", "animalistic reactions", and
so on---things that I do not really feel essential to being "human".

So while I as an instance can calmly and intellectually not be
concerned at all---which I long ago succeeded in doing---
I as an instance shall never be calmly unconcerned about
impending torture to the instance.  That is, if my duplicate and
I are strapped down, it's pretty easy for me to start saying to
Nurse Ratchet "Do it to him!", just as O'Brien got Winston
and Julia to sell each other out. 

In this same way, it wouldn't be surprising if a scenario could
be constructed in which an instance of mine worried about
quasi-death (i.e., the death of the copy in question, though
close duplicates survive him) (especially if pain or discomfort
were involved).

> The problem arises because it *was* this aspect of death or quasi-death
> (specifically, any process which would lead to my present instance
> anticipating no future experiences) which I was worried about. So if
> this fear is now seen as inconsistent, my main reason for worrying
> about death is gone.

In that last sentence, do you mean "quasi-death"?  

>> But then there is the case of the crackpot who believes he
>> is Napoleon.   But if you mean by "*felt*" that he really
>> did have the same thoughts, memories, and emotions that
>> Napoleon had, then naturally it would be isomorphic to
>> the Francis Bacon case.
> Even in the similarity criterion for identity, the important thing is
> that you continue feeling you are the same person.

Necessary, for sure.  (But as I've been submitting, not sufficient.)

> It is a necessary side-effect of having a sufficiently similar mind
> (memories etc.) that you will also feel you are the same person.

Quite right.

> Even mentally ill people who claim to be someone else (usually
> someone famous) generally remember their past, remember
> thinking they used to be someone else, but have a rationalisation
> for the factual discrepancies. Their crazy persona is continuous
> with their normal persona. If this were not so, then they truly
> *would* be a different person, and the original would
> be dead.

Or, if you think that your introduction of "quasi-death" is going
to be helpful in many cases, the original would be merely
quasi-dead, given the (extremely hypothetical) possibility that
he has indeed forgotten his contemporary life (unlike your
real patients) and doesn't experience nor is aware of 
factual discrepancies.

But I suspect that to you an instance has legitimate worry about
being dead---with all the emotional and intellecutal ramifications
entailed by that---even though a copy survives.  This is certainly
consistent in my experience with what I call the "path conception"
of identity, which I have promised to write about.


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