Lee Corbin writes:
> Having my duplicate who has already diverged live on while I die is not
> memory loss, but rather replacement of the lost memories with someone
> else's, which I feel is a greater threat to my identity and which I
> less likely to agree to.
It's "someone else" just because that's the *feeling* you have about
it! Since you have "the feeling" that you are the same person today
that you will be tomorrow, perhaps some day you can achieve the
feeling that your duplicate sitting across the room is really you too.
> Memory loss would be more like having myself backed
> up and the backup run after I have died. If the backups are frequent, I
> suppose it is better than no backup at all, but I would still feel
> dying. At its most basic, for me anyway, the fear of imminent death is
> fear that the person I am *now* will be wiped from the universe and
> have any more experiences.
Actually, I am wrong about (at least) one thing: memory loss and memory
replacement do amount to the same thing, once the copy with the lost
memories has new experiences.
Have faith in physics. If from *every* objective measure, a Stathis
will be awaking tomorrow in your bed, and will do things and talk to
everyone just like you, then he is you. There are no souls. You must
have faith. The physics of the situation is all that there is.
An interesting choice of words: "there are no souls... you must have faith".
There *is* one objective (and subjective) measure whereby the copy differs
from the original: the lost memory of the post-backup experiences. You might
argue that it doesn't matter very much, but it is real, and it is what I
have been using to define death: no successor observer moment, anywhere or
> The same consideration ought to apply to memory loss, but people
> don't generally think of it that way, because they know
> that they'll be OK afterwards, on the basis of past experience.
Just because they're not used to thinking of it in the right way,
does not preclude our embracing the right way that we should be
thinking of it.
Yes, it's true: the very first thing you learned on this Earth
was how to tell what was outside your body from what was inside,
and slowly your concept of self was formed. But we can see now
that it was wrong. We can see now that if you are to have a
consistent view of what self is, then it must include all processes
that (from the viewpoint of physics) are indistinguishable from
you. Or rather, which are very, very similar (like the you yesterday,
or the you across the room).
Just embrace it: when you see your duplicate across the room,
and you know all the facts of his and your existence, just
repeat: "There by the grace of God go I".
As I have said above, it is possible to rigorously define death as occurring
when there is no successor observer moment, anywhere or ever. This is the
case with physical death where there is no surviving copy or where the
surviving copy has diverged from the original, and it is also the case with
memory loss. Losing a lifetime's memories is equivalent to physical death
with no surviving copy, so it is certainly a very bad thing. Losing a
shorter period of memories or dying and leaving behind a copy made a short
time ago might not seem as bad, but I think this is only because the
"survivor" is unable to remember any loss. The situation is not any
different to suffering pain and then having the memory erased; the knowledge
that they are about to die is for many people even more distressing than
physical pain. You argue that the doomed person should not consider himself
doomed if there is a backup available, and certainly you have more chance of
convincing him of this than you have of convincing a victim undergoing
torture that he isn't really in pain because his memory will be erased or he
will be killed and a pre-torture copy will take over. Nevertheless, I would
still be upset if I were about to die, unless I knew that my mind was being
backed up continuously, so that no experiences are lost.
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