Russell Standish wrote:
>On Mon, May 29, 2006 at 07:15:33PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> > I don't see why you are so sure about the necessity of passing through
> > non-functional brain structures going from you to Napoleon. After all,
> > there is a continuous sequence of intermediates between you and a
> > fertilized ovum, and on the face of it you have much more in common
> > mentally and physically with Napoleon than with a fertilized ovum.
> > However, technical feasibility is not the point. The point is that *if*
> > (let's say magically) your mind were gradually transformed, so that your
>We need to be a bit more precise than "magically". In Parfit's book he
>talks about swapping out my neurons for the equivalent neurons in
>Napoleon's brain. Sure this is not exactly technically feasible at
>present, but for thought experiment purposes it is adequate, and
>suffices for doing the teleporting experiment.
>The trouble I have is that Napoleon's brain will be wired completely
>differently to my own. Substituting enough of his neurons and
>connections will eventually just disrupt the functioning of my brain.

I agree that Parfit's simple method would probably create a nonfunctional 
state in between, or at least the intermediate phase would involve a sort of 
split personality disorder with two entirely separate minds coexisting in 
the same brain, without access to each other's thoughts and feelings. But 
this is probably not a fatal flaw in whatever larger argument he was making, 
because you could modify the thought experiment to say something like "let's 
assume that in the phase space of all possibe arrangements of neurons and 
synapses, there is some continuous path between my brain and Napoleon's 
brain such that every intermediate state would have a single integrated 
consciousness". There's no way of knowing whether such a path exists (and of 
course I don't have a precise definition of 'single integrated 
consciousness'), but it seems at least somewhat plausible.


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