[ExI] The Anticipation Dilemma

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Jul 22 22:45:20 UTC 2007

Stathis writes

> On 21/07/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
>> [Stathis wrote] 
>> > 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.

Interestingly, an off-line correspondent has conjectured that 
memory erasure may not interfere with one's anticipation of
far distant events (if I am reading him right), particularly, at
least, in a non-patternist view. (Of course it doesn't in the
patternist, or information theory of identity.) We'll have to
get into that consideration or possibility before long.

>> In that last sentence, do you mean "quasi-death"?
> If it was mainly the inability to anticipate future experiences I was
> worried about, a necessary effect of quasi-death and death, and I can
> convince myself that I should not be worried about it any more
> (because, for example, I would not be worried about the quasi-death of
> partial memory loss), then I should no longer be worried about either
> quasi-death or death.

Does this mean that you suspect that the prospect of memory 
erasure (say the last week's worth) would not prevent you from
anticipating the pleasures of a vacation to Hawaii planned for
later this year?

> Not fearing death or quasi-death at all would be one consistent
> position. But perhaps I could revise what it is that I fear so that I
> no longer fear quasi-death but only fear death;

And now:

> quasi-death being when there are near copies remaining or to be
> created later, death being when there aren't and never will be.

Thanks for a restatement of what you mean by *quasi-death*
(which seems to me quite helpful definition).

> But if I am to accept that definition of death, it would seem that I
> should be as happy for past versions of myself to survive as future
> versions.

Except for the relatively minor inconvenience, I suppose, of losing
a little memory. But basically, yes, it would seem that you should
(or could) be as happy for past version to survive.

> Having past versions of myself eliminated isn't normally an
> option, but the thought experiment in another post in which I consider
> a model of a block universe in parallel computers provides just such
> an opportunity, and I would selfishly sacrifice all my past selves to
> gain any extra runtime for my future selves.

Although it is very interesting, it seems to me that the idea of 
actually eliding past runtime is a separate issue from our anxieties
over impending memory loss. But I guess I see now what you
really meant by "past versions of myself to survive".

You seem to be using "to survive" as meaning to "get runtime",
and in the sense of denying a past self his runtime (in your bombing
scenario), whereas I usually think of "to survive" as whether from
a given point the future solar system will host "you".

> I can't really arrive at a fully consistent position. It appears that
> not only are my feelings about death and survival not rationally
> justified, but they cannot be rationally justified, however I look at
> it. The only position free from contradictions is to say that death
> and quasi-death don't matter at all, and I'm really prepared to say
> that.

You really *are* prepared to say that death (and the weaker
quasi-death) don't matter, or was the word "not" left out?
That seems to be taking all this philosophy stuff a bit far!

> So it appears that I am bound to be inconsistent, and my only
> choice is in the type of inconsistency.

(It seems to me, by the way, that I obtained what I think of as
a consistent position by jettisoning the reliability of anticipation,
which is quite a price, I admit.)


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