I'm starting this as a new thread rather than continuing under 'QTI and eternal
torment', where this idea came up, because it's really a new topic.
It seems to me an obvious corollary of comp that there is in reality (3p) only
one observer, a single subject that undergoes all possible experiences. In a
blog post I wrote a while back (before I learned about comp) I put forward this
'one observer' notion as the only solution to a paradox that occurred to me
when thinking about the idea of cryogenic freezing and resuscitation. I started
wondering how I could know whether the consciousness of the person being
resuscitated was the 'same consciousness' (whatever that means) as the
consciousness of the person who was frozen. That is, is a new subject created
with all your memories (who will of course swear they are you), or is the new
subject really you?
This seems like a silly or meaningless point until you ask yourself the
question, "If I am frozen and then cryogenicaly resurrected should I be scared
of bad experiences the resurrected person might have?" Will they be happening
to *me*, or to some person with my memories and personality I don't have to
worry about? It becomes even clearer if you imagine dismantling and
reassembling the brain atom by atom. What then provides the continuity between
the pre-dismantled and the reassembled brain? It can only be the continuity of
self-reference (the comp assumption) that makes 'me' me, since there is no
physical continuity at all.
But let's say the atoms are jumbled a little at reassembly, resulting in a
slight personality change or the loss of some or all memories. Should I, about
to undergo brain disassembly and reassembly, be worried about experiences of
this person in the future who is now not quite me? What then if the reassembled
brain is changed enough that I am no longer recognizable as me? Following this
through to its logical conclusion, it becomes clear that the division between
subjects is not absolute. What separates subjectivities is the contents of
consciousness (comp would say the computations being performed), not some kind
of other mysterious 'label' or identifier that marks certain experiences as
belonging to one subject and not another (such as, for instance, being the
owner of a specific physical brain).
I find this conclusion irresistible - and frankly terrifying. It's like
reincarnation expanded to the infinite degree, where 'I' must ultimately
experience every subjective experience (or at least every manifested subjective
experience, if I stop short of comp and the UD). What it does provide is a
rationale for the Golden Rule of morality. Treat others as I would have them
treat me because they *are* me, there is no other! If we really lived with the
knowledge of this unity, if we grokked it deep down, surely it would change the
way we relate to others. And if it were widely accepted as fact, wouldn't it
lead to the optimal society, since
everyone would know that they will be/are on the receiving end of every action
they commit? Exploitation is impossible since you can only steal from yourself.
Of course, if comp is true, moral action becomes meaningless in one sense since
everything happens anyway, so you will be on the receiving end of all actions,
both good and bad.
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