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April 30, 2004

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:


This game is okay, but I found their game on morality better. Wow, they do have a lot of games to try out.

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?


How are you doing?

The "How are you doing?" greeting that is very frequently used in the US, is philosophically quite different from the "How are you?" I was used to hearing in India (which may have British roots).

With "How are you", you are asking about the state of the persons being. You are asking whether he is happy, whether he is sad. It lays importance on the state of the mind or the state of being as an important attribute that people like to know about others.

On the other hand, "How are you doing?" asks you how are you doing, not how you yourself are. It implies that every person must be doing something, probably for his livelihood, or for fun. The importance is on action. It assumes that every person is in a state of constant action. His state of being is not very important, but whether he is having fun whatever he is doing. The activity he is doing is not considered separately from his emotional state. But that he derives his emotional state from the activity he is doing. Or that he has to pursue some activity to reach a better emotional state.

This implies that people generally dont care about whether the other person is happy or not. They are busy having their own fun doing their own little activities.

This is my life man. Your life is yours.

Have fun!
I dont care whether you actually are happy, just have fun doing whatever it is that you are doing. :-)


April 27, 2004


Celebrating the second anniversary of the blog. :)


April 26, 2004

Social Exchange

All social communication is actually transfer of "memes". (Memes are elements of know-how, which gets transferred from people to people, and undergo darwinian evolution by selection, and thus whole human cultures develop)

Memes were originally useful as primarily for exchange of survival tips, in both their raw and highly abstracted forms.

Today, with the relaxing of survival troubles, memes also have taken other secondary roles. Examples of such roles are generating happiness (which may or may not directly relate with survival), ways for producing fun, and satisfaction of other not-directly-for-survival desires.

People act like a bag of memes. They collect and retain memes of their choice, useful for their own ends. Then they tend to be friends with people who can be the source of their most desired memes.

In fact, society can be viewed as a huge marketplace of memes. People advertize and sell their memes, and gain social currency in doing that. The more desirable memes a person, the more is the demand for that person, the more socially rich he is.

This concept provides for a consistent way of looking at a large part of the working of society.

"He is fun", tells one about another. What does that mean? He has the memes that can give you fun, so go and get some of them from him! So that you can then spread some of them to yet others.

Here I assume that memes are behavior-generating elements as well, since behavior is very much a result of his past experience, and his experience can be imagined as consisting of memes or as producing behavior which can generate memes).

[Fun is required for a person's psych in order for him to be happy and want to live, thus increasing survival duration.]

This is the way the social transaction of memes takes place.

Notably, the most popularly exchanged kind of memes differ in different cultures and communities. For example, in under-developed and developing countries, the most exchanged memes are those more closely related to survival in a biological and social sense. People want to know ways they could find efficient ways of utilizing resources, ways they could create a new business that would earn them livelihood, ways they could be happy in deteriorating circumstances by following spirituality or some such, etc. In developed countries, simply-fun-n-cool type of memes are more desired for. People want to know what are ways to get new cool music (Kazaa), has Tom Cruise has yet come out with some new cool movie, some cool place to hike and camp, etc. This might actually cause some people to be not very "functional" (functional means capable of finding best ways to for self-survival), since coolness does not always correlate very well with basic survival.


April 24, 2004


Whether you have what you expect to have, determines (single-handedly?) whether you are happy.

So what did you expect?

Life is such a complex affair when you look at relationships. Relationships bring "expectation". And guessing expectations of others is so difficult that it becomes very easy to misguess one. And there you go, you come very close to breaking the whole relationship.

Breaking of expectations is sorrowful. And breaking of relationships is even more so.

If there were a way in which people could read other people's minds, then life would be entirely different. The whole social construct would change.

Since you will know other people's expectations, you will avoid all the misunderstandings etc and avoid breaking most relationships.

We can actually try and simulate this in reality. Just dont keep your expectations from friends to yourselves. Say aloud your thoughts. Talk them way. If you expect your friend to take you along with his girlfriend to the theatre, tell him. If you expect your roommate to clean up after he eats in the kitchen, tell him.

This will surely make life a little easier. Instead of spending millions of mind hours in guessing what others expect you to do, and then spend millions of mind hours trying to solve problems due to unfulfilled expectations, you have your solution gifted to you.

The next stage in this would be letting your acquaintances know of all your thoughts. This will be difficult to do in reality, but can be speculated to solve a certain class of social problems. Tell whatever you think to everybody around you. Tell him that you didnt like his banging the door while coming in today. Tell him that he was a jerk to think like that. This will sound bitter but maybe people will adjust to such social conditions over time. But probably this will solve a lot of communication problems.

So lets try to talk every thought out at all levels of acquaintainces and friendships; lets lend a ear for others' thoughts; lets make all friendships into close friendships.

This might make this world a much better place.


April 12, 2004

Awareness or Action?

Today, while discussing philosphical stuff with one of my work friends Shib Jana, I suddenly came up with this metaphysics:

"You", as a "being", are composed of two aspects:-

- Biological
- Consciousness-related (spiritual?)

Biological aspects, are concerned with your role as a biological organism. You must try to survive, and reproduce. You must do whatever you can to ensure your survival.

Consciousness is about awareness. It is about being aware that you exist, aware about the things happenning around us.

Ego is a function derived from your Biological instincts. It extrapolates your biological instincts into a lot of instincts at a higher level, many of which "appear" to be the part of another aspect of "being", such as "social". I am not yet sure whether social aspects can be considered "completely" derived from Biological aspects, but, for now, I think they mostly do. (except some aspects which are more "human", in the sense that they do not necessarily correlate with survival in the best possible way as in "animals". )

The "To be or to become?" question that I posed in one of my previous post basically poses a choice between "to be" or "to become", the former connotates with "sole awareness", and the latter with "action".

I think that "to be" is to exist as you are, and to not attempt change in either you or your world around you. It points to a no-action state, where in, the awareness of everything is enough action. So this fulfills your consciouness-related aspect of the being, and only that.

The "to become" is related to action, and I think that "action is inherently driven by ego". Yes. All action is inherently driven by ego. Ego tells you to get up from your bed every morning, to have a bath, to go to work, to have food, to talk with people, to love people, to hate people, to rise up in society, to earn money, to marry, to have children, to raise children, to do acts of goodwill, etc etc etc.

Thus the whole society is driven by Ego.

Many saints (religious/philosophical) advocated egolessness as the "right way" to be. I think they wanted us to undermine the Biological instincts, and just relish in the consciousness aspects, which of course are unavoidable. Since they are unavoidable, they thought about us as just "conscious" beings, with the biological aspects not exactly natural to the consciousness aspects. I think the word "spiritual" also connotates with this aspect - the conscious as against the biological.

So, the dilemma is clear - to be or to become?

(awaiting more explanation, as all of my posts are)


April 11, 2004

To be or to become?

The question is whether you should become something or you just be something if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be smart, or just be smart if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be good, or just be good if you happen to be.

Whether you need to be helpful, or just be helpful if you happen to be.

Whether you "should", "only if it is fun" or "if it happens to be".

"To be or to become?"
Many moral, social and cultural dilemmas appear to me as mere decorations of this fundamental question.

(More elaboration when I can put some time into this)

April 9, 2004

Rules to be a Human.

Rule 1:
You must live.

Rule 2:
You must reproduce.

Rule 3:
You are "you". (As against, you are not the chair in front of you, you are not the person you are talking to, you are different from all other living and non-living beings: you are your body)

Rule 4:
You must pursue happiness. For this, you must find situations, activities and things which make you happy. And then pursue them.

Rule 5:
You must have a personality. The things which make you happy are your signature, your personality. You exist only if you have a personality.

To be continued.


April 7, 2004

Selfishness (Incomplete)


People are selfish.

People expect other people to be selfish.

Selfish meaning that you care for yourself. You look where you are going, you make sure you are doing what you want. You do what you want.

If you are not selfish, you have a problem.

This is what is the general practical opinion.

Again, doesnt fare well with the romantic in me.


April 1, 2004


An email to my past fellow interns at light line:

I think I have realized that working at Murali's place had an incorrect impact on our thinking. The internship imposed upon our minds the concept of high and low, the concept of fundoo people and non-fundoo people, with fundoo-ness being the purpose of life.

But after 3 weeks on my current job (which is my first one), I currently am of the view that the US work culture supresses the distinctions based on intelligence, and considers all people, in general, "equal".

The stratification of people based on their merit, was more of an artifact due to the struggle for survival environments we found in India and at Murali's place.

In a more prosperous place, with less struggle needed for survival, life is more desire-based rather than need-based, and hence people can be divided on the basis of their effort for fulfillment of their desires rather than on their abilities to be able to survive in a harsh environment.


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