2009/3/31 Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be>:

>> It does indeed present conceptual difficulties. The problem is that
>> our notion of personal identity is dependent on the world in which we
>> evolved, where these duplication experiments don't happen. The
>> conceptual difficulties vanish if we say that there is no such
>> metaphysical entity as a person persisting through time, but rather a
>> set of observer moments, each one complete in itself and independent
>> from the others, which only associate due to their information content
>> - their psychological connectedness. In other words, we all survive
>> only momentarily, but we have the illusion of persisting through time
>> due to memory, quasi-memory or partial memory.
> I agree, but this does not answer the question. To extract the
> physical laws we have to define that psychological connectness, and it
> refers to the notion of person. It is no metaphysical than atoms
> molecules or galaxies. Those are also mind composition which can be
> considered as relative stable and useful constructs. We have to relate
> those things, to extract information from the assumptions. The point
> is no more philosophical.

A person can be well-defined in the same way as, say, the Middle Ages
can be well-defined, simply by agreeing on a particular range of
dates. But the notion of "Middle Ages" is not basic to physics. A
historian could come along and argue for one reason and another that
the Middle Ages should not be considered to have ended until the year
1800, and although we might disagree with him we can't say that he is
wrong in the same way he would be wrong if he claimed that the British
landed in Australia in 1066. Similarly with personhood, we could come
up with a definition, eg. that a person consists of the series or
person-stages such that each person-stage shares some memories with
the preceding and succeeding person-stage, but you wouldn't be wrong
if you rejected the definition, in the way you could be wrong about a
matter of fact concerning a particular person-stage.

>> I would consider a period of consciousness with complete destruction
>> of the ego, such as induced by Salvia Divinorum, as equivalent to a
>> period of unconsciousness or an unrelated person's consciousness,
>> provided there were no memory of the event as the experience was
>> resolving.
> But the amnesic, the dreamer and the salvia experiencer have a memory
> of the events. Kelly did not dream that he disappears, but that he was
> 7 old. To eliminate the first person white rabbits, the devil comes
> from the fact that we have to use *some* notion of person.

If memories of the event are retained then it is possible to define a
persisting person. If all memories are lost and never return, then we
may as well say the original person has died.

Stathis Papaioannou

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