What is "me"? (ver 1.1)
This was among the very good articles I have found on K5. (I am not a very regular reader there though).
[UPDATE: The story seems to have been taken off, since some dimwitted K5 readers didnt give it votes high enough to be published... I am trying to contact the author to get hold of the story. For now, read this summary: The article asks questions about exactly what "I" is. Is it just a state of your memories? If yes, then if I put my memories exactly in your brain, will you become I? If I put the exact state of the brain in a robotic brain, will the robot become me? If my brain is gradually replaced with artificial cells, will the resulting robotic brain be me?]
[UPDATE: I have got the new location of the story from the author. It is at http://foof.myby.co.uk/animals/giraffe/identity.html]
Have a look at that article, before continuing reading this post.
I was able to think on the exact same lines as I read each line of the article. My thinking process went so much identically, that I could almost correctly expect the next statement. I mostly have the same opinion as regards to the conclusion as well. (This proves that myself and the author think along the same lines, and those lines must be precisely logical ;-) ).
I believe that its the continuity in the thought process of this brain, that is me.
About identical brains with identical memories being me or not, I dont give a damn about that, since if I make two identical cups, does one become the other??? Well, no. So even if you make a molecule by molecule replica of me, having precisely the same memories, that wont be me. I am here. Right here. With this set of memories AND this set of molecules.
And if you pull the switch off my brain, and a second later restart it, so that I even have the same set of molecules as I had before the switching process, that WONT BE ME. Since that continuity has been lost. As soon as the continuity breaks, I no longer exist. [Point to think about, what happens after one recovers from coma, is he himself, or somebody different?]
So my definition of me would be:
this continuity in the thought process inside this brain with this set of molecules and this set of memories
Even if you gradually replace each molecule in my brain with artificial ones, that wont be me, since you would practically have to stop the brain momentarily before placing the new one. If however, you were able to replace the molecules by new ones without stopping the continuity, then I think I will remain me, since this process will be identical to the death of neurons and birth of neurons which keeps happenning all the time. (and not to mention replenishing of molecules by the new food and blood that come into the brain)
Actually there is a quick game on "identity" here:
which ends up with pointing to a longer article on personal identity:
I now think that the consciousness in the person dies as soon as he goes into coma. After coma, when he wakes up again, he is not what he was before. This is another consciousness. Since the continuity was broken, the previous consciousness can never come back. Its does not exist any more.
However, nobody will be able to realize this. Since the onlooking people will think that he is the same person since this new consciousness will have the exact same memories and genes and hence behavior, and will behave identically to the original consciousness. The irony is that the person will himself not know that he was born (not a good word in this sense) just now, since he will have memories and body of the previous consciousness.
It might appear that then the breaking of continuity is not such a big issue, and that the definition of consciousness is wrong. But thats what I feel "I" am.
The continuity of thought, regardless of anything else.
Yes, now I have changed my definition. ;-)
I dont care about his memories, and his molecules, what we care about is this continuity in the brain. If you are able to even change the brain itself somehow, without breaking the continuitity of this thought process in a brain, then the new brain will be the same "him".
What do you think?