On Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM, Russell Standish
> This is a variant of an argument that David Parfit uses in his book
> "Reasons and Persons", where he considers a continuum from his mind
> to that of Napoleon. (Don't flame me if I get the details wrong - the
> essence is what is important). I hadn't read that book at the time I
> wrote mine, otherwise, I would undoubtedly have cited it.
> Now in the case of Parfit's argument, I find considerable doubt that
> the argument can be made to work. Whilst, if I randomly knocked out 1%
> of your neurons, you will still be awake, and probably little
> different from the experience, if I knocked out certain "keystone" (as
> the concept is called in ecology) neurons to a level of 1% of all
> neurons, your brain function would fall apart quite rapidly. Yet to
> transition from your brain to that of Napoleons would require rewiring
> those same keystone neurons, and that, I believe casts significant
> doubt that the continuum is possible, even in principle.
> Now, we also know that infant minds are not a tabula rasa. So I am
> sceptical that the transition of a dementiaed mind to an infant mind
> is possible, for just the same reason.
It doesn't have to happen by removal of neurons in a single
individual. The transition could happen, for example, by having a
series of separate individuals who share a proportion of their
predecessors' memories. They don't even have to run on the same
substrate, let alone the same brain.
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