On 6/8/2012 7:02 PM, Pierz wrote:
I don't know, somehow this whole argument is not something I could take 
seriously enough to get worked up over - too many what ifs piled up on other 
what ifs. But I think I see a couple of flaws in this argument. Firstly, I am 
not sure about the equation of unconsciousness with death. Why should coma be 
any different from deep sleep - i.e. a state of minimal consciousness which one 
cannot remember in retrospect but which nevertheless is a legitimate 1p view? 
One does not miraculously avoid sleep each night (well, come to think of it, I 
do, but that's another story!). I think this is the point Bruno is making. But 
there's a deeper problem I think with the idea of avoiding the 'vicinity' of 
death. QI says you can never end up on a branch in which you are dead. That's 
clear enough - so long as you grant that death is 'no-point-of-view', i.e., 
there is no no afterlife. But *someone* ends up on all the branches, so long as 
there is a point of view associated with them. Even if there is a cul-de-sac 
branch in which the probability of death is 100%, some version of you goes down 
that track. So right up until the very brink of death, you should expect your 
experience to follow the probabilities given by normal physics and statistical 
expectations. You can't, by QI, 'foresee' that a branch is a cul-de-sac in 
advance and so trim it out of your possible futures. But because there is 
always a finite, if vanishingly small, probability of not dying, one might 
expect that one will always find oneself 'sliding along the edge of death' so 
to speak, always just barely avoiding oblivion. But this is reminiscent of 
Zeno's paradox. How can one's experience follow normal statistical rules right 
up until a certain limit, then diverge from them to an ever greater, more 
improbable extent? QI is another of the absurd paradoxes that arises when 
trying to reconcile objectivity and subjectivity. I think we'd be better 
adopting something analogous to Einstein's assumption with regard to speed - 
namely that the laws of physics appear the same to us regardless of our 
velocity. By the same type of reasoning, we should assume that the laws of 
statistical probability (physics) will continue to apply at every point of our 
experience, even at liminal points like death. I personally favour the idea of 
primary consciousness, so I'm quite happy with the idea that 1p experience 
bridges death. If you don't swallow that, I suppose the onus is on you to 
explain away the paradox by some other means.

Even if computation is fundamental and physics is derivative, that still leaves consciousness as derivative too and possibly derivative from physics. If 'you' is identified with certain computations, some of which constitute your consciousness it is still the case that there are a great many threads of computation that are *not* you, so it is possible that all those threads that are 'you' stop being you, e.g. you're dead. Of course it may be that the threads constituting 'you' approach some simple state so that the closest continuation is the simple computational thread of a lizard, bacterium, or fetus. So you now can think of 'you' as continuing in this way - although it becomes rather arbitrary which lizard you will be.


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