On Fri, Jun 24, 2005 at 06:52:11PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:

> >Why don't we terminate this pointless thread, until we can actually 
> >make numerical
> >models of sufficiently complex animals and people, so the question 
> >completely
> >renders itself irrelevant?
> 
> You answer like if by making things more precise, automatically the 
> question will then vanished away, like if you knew the theorem before 

No, the nature of identity and cognition can be already described with
sufficient precision. It's just empirically threads about personal identity
are fueled by sentiments similiar to now obsolete ones: those about phlogiston, 
vis vitalis and creationism. These, too, have gone round in circles for 
decades and centuries, leading pretty much nowhere.

Statements "I believe that first-person introspective view is special" 
and "I'm convinced cognition is not a physical process described by 
known physical laws or require deep quantum magic", "continuity matters"
"location is part of system identity", "atoms themselves, not their
spatiotemporal arrangement constitute identity" are such sterile arguments. 
Ultimatively, they cannot be refuted by means other than a direct 
demonstration, preferrably from a first-person perspective (but even 
then, some observers will still remain unconvinced, claiming the 
zombie clause, or trying to get the experimenter persecuted for their 
murder).

> starting to find the axioms. But: replace "sufficiently complex animals 
> and people" by "sufficiently complex machines" or by "sufficiently rich 
> theories",  and then computer science and logic illustrate and 
> enlighten *already* the relevance of the question and the high 
> counter-intuitive character of the possible answers).

Absolutely. Apparently, too counter-intuitive for some people to accept,
despite based on solid seat-of-the-pants science and empirically refuted 
by daily routine in IT.

> But I don't think it is useful nor necessary to go to the math before 
> understanding the "intuitive" but precise problems, and thought 
> experiments like those in this (sequences) of threads are very 
> illuminating. Why do you think the question is irrelevant? What do you 

Of course they're illuminating. But have they convinced many? It doesn't seem
so.

> mean exactly, giving that some people works hard to got "yes/no" 
> clearcut questions if only to be able to distinguish between the 
> different ways *we* approach those questions.

-- 
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org";>leitl</a>
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