Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> I am not so sure that the standard model of personal identity with which we 
> are familiar would be
> a universal standard. Imagine intelligent beings evolved from hive insects 
> which go through
> several radically different life stages, frequently share genetic information 
> with each other
> like bacteria, identify self and others via pheromones which can change or be 
> transferred to
> other individuals... the possibilities are endless. These beings would have 
> an utterly alien
> psychology, ethics, aesthetics, and probably also an utterly alien sense of 
> what it means to be a
> person, including what it means to be the same person from one life stage to 
> another. However, if
> they were intelligent, they would come up with the same scientific truths as 
> us, even if they
> thought about them very differently, because such truths are in a fundamental 
> sense
> observer-independent.
> 
> Perhaps we have reached a consensus of sorts (Brent and Lee, let me know if 
> you disagree):
> evolution has given us brains hardwired with a sense of continuity of 
> personal identity over time
> for very good reasons, but it could have been otherwise, and it would not 
> have been inconsistent
> with any logical or empirical fact about the world had it been otherwise. 

I agree, except I don't see how evolution could have worked it out otherwise 
for our kind of animal. 
  Your thought-experimental day-people took supernatural intervention to 
evolve.  Assuming that 
their outward behavoir comported with personal continuity; I'm not sure how 
much their inner 
narrative could differ from our own.  To what degree could they really worry 
(an emotion) about 
their future circumstance without feeling that they would *be* that future 
person.  Is there 
anything to continuity of personal identity besides a) the third-person 
continuity of body, memory, 
personality and b) the emotions related to anticipation of pain, pleasure, etc.

You make a good point though that a species like the social insects must have a 
different kind of 
feeling of identity - if any.  Richard Hofstader imagined an intelligent ant 
colony in which the 
mind supervened on the spatial and chemical interactions among individuals of 
the colony.  This has 
also been addressed in fiction.  Greg Egan wrote a short story about a person 
who woke up in a 
different body every morning.  Stanislaw Lem, in one of his Star Diaries 
stories, has the hero land 
on a planet where everyone changes societal roles each day.

Brent Meeker

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