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DonAthos

The Transporter Problem

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In another recent thread, I was invited to make this one to explore what I'm calling "the transporter problem." In quick summary then, the "problem" considers the famous Star Trek transporter. It purports to disassemble a person (into whatever constituent elements) and then reassemble that person in identical fashion (and perhaps from the same constituent elements) at some distance.

In Star Trek, people routinely utilize this technology; however (granting that this would someday be feasible; a separate consideration), I would not use such a thing, because I believe that it would be fatal. This speaks to the question of the "First Person Experience" (FPE) and its metaphysical status -- which is why I'd raised the problem initially; granting that the person who enters the transporter (e.g. James T. Kirk) is identical to the person who leaves it from a third person/scientific perspective, I yet argue that there is a fundamental metaphysical difference which cannot be assessed from "outside," i.e. it is a different person with respect to the FPE. The Kirk who leaves the transporter is not the same Kirk as the one who entered it; the Kirk who entered the transporter is dead.

In response it was asked whether sleep was in some way analogous to this situation -- and whether we "die" when we go to sleep. But no, it is not the same thing at all. When I go to sleep at night, I wake up the next morning as the same person. Whatever interruption or discontinuity of consciousness that sleep provides (as well as being knocked unconscious, in a coma, or "legally dead" then revived) it is not the same as the death of the transporter, which I argue is utter obliteration.

Then it was suggested that this is some rephrasing of the "Ship of Theseus." But no, it is not. It is not a question as to whether we continue to call the entity who emerges from the transporter "Jim Kirk," but: would we be willing to use the transporter?

I argue that the answer to that question depends on whether we believe that a consciousness can be reconstituted such that the associated FPE remains the same, irrespective of what we call it, and whether we believe that the FPE (despite being immeasurable from a "scientific" perspective) has any reality to it. Which is to say that it depends upon our assessment of the FPE metaphysically. Accordingly, I would not be willing to use the transporter.

Edited by DonAthos

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As stated in the other thread, I would make  the same choice for the same reason... to avoid death.

I disagree a little bit with the analysis.  One cannot dispense with the details of what happens to the person in pronouncing a verdict.

Identity of the entity is normally sufficient.

When not sufficient, Disintegration and discontinuity of structure and function are sufficient.  

FPE is beside the point especially if we make no appeal to super-nature and engage in no mind-brain dichotomy.

Kirk 2 has bones, blood, brain, consciousness, FPE...  they ARE what they are, the issue is whether Kirk 2 is a "perfect copy" of Kirk 1 or whether Kirk 2 IS Kirk 1.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
Clariification

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Suppose you had the opportunity to have a complete backup copy of your mind and memory stored on a computer, with the understanding that when you died, the backup would be activated in a computerized body .  It would have everything you had mentally, emotionally, and morally and would remember being you.  Would you consider this worth doing or would you consider it pointless? 

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So a note to whomever discovers and ultimately constructs a Star Trek style transporter, like a pack of cigarettes, it must come with a clearly marked warning label to the effect of:

Use of this product invokes a Frankenstein Clause. You will die before the process is complete, and the entity resurrected at the completion of the process may, or may not, provide you with the salvation of the time traveled you may otherwise have incurred.

I believe the other thread also stated that the person who used a transporter should not be treated any differently afterward, leaving open the question: If a person refuses to use a transporter even before they are created, should they be treated differently?

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2 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Suppose you had the opportunity to have a complete backup copy of your mind and memory stored on a computer, with the understanding that when you died, the backup would be activated in a computerized body .  It would have everything you had mentally, emotionally, and morally and would remember being you.  Would you consider this worth doing or would you consider it pointless? 

Simulation is as entirely different subject.

An identical copy of a DNA molecule can be reproduced so that it is structured and behaved in reality just as the one copied would.. this is immeasurably AND incommensurately different from programming a computer to use a bunch of values to calculate motions and, update time parameters and forces and energies and recalculate motions and positions and draw a nice little picture for you.

The simulation calculates for you what a real DNA molecule should do, which knowledge you can use however you wish.

An identical copy of DNA molecule IS a DNA molecule.

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

So a note to whomever discovers and ultimately constructs a Star Trek style transporter, like a pack of cigarettes, it must come with a clearly marked warning label to the effect of:

Use of this product invokes a Frankenstein Clause. You will die before the process is complete, and the entity resurrected at the completion of the process may, or may not, provide you with the salvation of the time traveled you may otherwise have incurred.

I believe the other thread also stated that the person who used a transporter should not be treated any differently afterward, leaving open the question: If a person refuses to use a transporter even before they are created, should they be treated differently?

Should?

They are a person... fabricated based on a person having actually been born, experienced life, etc... but a person (this is an assumption of the hypothetical)

Politically they would have full individual rights.

Smart persons would will their entire estate to themselves (if necessary), and all contracts they had should include a clause that the contract is in force and any new copy of the person automatically becomes party to it.

As for treating the person differently, that is a personal question.  If I "believe" it is the same person I will treat him/her as though this were the case, if I don't, I should not be forced to treat them as the same person... but I would not be permitted to violate their rights, of course.

PS your post looks like a nightmare scenario of a person being killed against their will...  just let them go back to where they came from using the same method of transportation!

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

PS you post looks like a nightmare scenario of a person being killed against their will...  just let them go back to where there came from using the same method of transportation! 

Rod Sterling would have been hard pressed to put it any better.

Someone wrote on a travel method where the traveler was put to sleep prior to the journey. A child figured a way to remain awake for the trip, and at the destination, was arrived as an old version of the child. (The child with make-up to look like wrinkles and gray hair.)

All that needs be interjected now is Derek Parfit's version, albeit, it transforms the question from one of teleportation to replication.

Edited by dream_weaver

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

As stated in the other thread, I would make  the same choice for the same reason... to avoid death.

I disagree a little bit with the analysis.  One cannot dispense with the details of what happens to the person in pronouncing a verdict.

I don't mean to "dispense with details," exactly... so please, let us explore your disagreement with my analysis. We shall consider any details you consider relevant.

If you mean to reference the fact that I call the feasibility of the technology a "separate consideration," it is only because it's representative of the kind of tangent that sometimes takes over these sorts of threads/thought experiments. So for the purpose of discussion, I intend merely to stipulate the Star Trek transporter as it is represented. But if you think some aspect of the technology is relevant to the question(s) we're trying to answer, by all means.

Quote

Identity of the entity is normally sufficient.

When not sufficient, Disintegration and discontinuity of structure and function are sufficient.

Could you expand on this a little bit? I'm not sure what you mean by "sufficient" in either sentence. Sufficient to do what?

Quote

FPE is beside the point especially if we make no appeal to super-nature and engage in no mind-brain dichotomy.

Kirk 2 has bones, blood, brain, consciousness, FPE...  they ARE what they are, the issue is whether Kirk 2 is a "perfect copy" of Kirk 1 or whether Kirk 2 IS Kirk 1.

It is an interesting and niggling detail, that you consider FPE to be beside the point; I consider it utterly to the point. It makes me suspect we still have something to discuss... :)

I agree that Kirk 2 has bones, blood, brain, consciousness, FPE -- and that they are what they are. As to whether Kirk 2 is a "perfect copy" of Kirk 1, or whether Kirk 2 "is" Kirk 1, well...

The scenario I'm considering (again, taking the transporter as represented) is that Kirk 2 is a molecule for molecule perfect re-implementation of Kirk 1. If there are any differences between them, physically, they are not more than the differences we would find in Kirk 1 between 9:00am and 9:01am as he takes his morning coffee, or between any moment to moment, generally.

Assuming we use the very same "stuff" to construct Kirk 2... meaning, we have pulled apart Kirk 1 and then put him back together again, bit by bit, using the exact same material, then I don't know -- do you think it's right to say that Kirk 2 is a "perfect copy"? A "perfect recreation"? Or is Kirk 1?

If we insist that this is not, in fact, Kirk 1 but Kirk 2 (because to refer to him now as "Kirk 2," though a useful convention, is in some sense begging the question), then it must be asked: what is the difference between Kirk 1 and Kirk 2, such that it is a different entity? If we took apart a car and reassembled it in like fashion (i.e. molecule for molecule), there would be no question that it was the same car -- or would there be? (If we took the car apart in larger pieces, like in a garage, and then reassembled it -- that would unquestionably be the same car, right?)

If we wanted to explore such "Ship of Theseus" style questions, we could further ask whether using different molecules to reconstruct a car in that fashion would constitute the "same car," but that's not at all to my interest or to my point. I don't care whether we think of the car as being the same or not, and neither Jim Kirk in that regard.

Instead, and to my point, Jim Kirk has something that a car does not have: he has a consciousness. And what is more, an FPE. You are right that Kirk 2 will also have a consciousness and an FPE. What is more, he will be convinced (absent my philosophical conviction on this issue) that he is Kirk 1, and that no change has taken place for him, as such. He will remember "his experience" of entering the transporter.

Yet I deny that it was his experience, or at least that it was not originally so, if it is now, because though Kirk 2 has an FPE it is not the same as the FPE of Kirk 1. The FPE of Kirk 1 -- in short, the entity that he was -- has died, and does no longer exist.

It is not merely a question of label or what we consider "sameness" to be in this respect. We can call the transported car the "same" or not, I don't care and it doesn't matter apart from abstruse philosophical consideration, like counting the angels on the head of a pin. The car is not alive, not conscious, has no FPE, and cannot decide whether to use a transporter. As owner of a car, I would not fret if my car was transported. But I would care very much if I was going to be transported.

(It is a separate and interesting question, if I should care if one of my loved ones was going to be transported...)

2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Suppose you had the opportunity to have a complete backup copy of your mind and memory stored on a computer, with the understanding that when you died, the backup would be activated in a computerized body .  It would have everything you had mentally, emotionally, and morally and would remember being you.  Would you consider this worth doing or would you consider it pointless? 

Right. This is exactly the same question, fundamentally, and it is explored in several sci-fi works without any apparent qualm (which suggests to me that there is... not yet underlying agreement on these sorts of issues, in larger society, or even a real understanding of "the problem"). In the other thread, I'd brought up Black Mirror, which routinely explores the idea of consciousness being downloaded/uploaded, transferred, restored, etc., as well as Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and Altered Carbon. But there are probably hundreds or thousands of other works which probe the same thing (e.g. a humorous treatment can be found in Red Dwarf and its holograms), and it further leads me to suspect that should technology evolve to a certain point (as it is perhaps reasonable to assume that it will), that people truly will begin to offer the service of "backup" in some fashion, or some other form of continuation.

To answer your question, it might be "worth doing" for certain reasons... but if the purpose is for me to somehow extend my existence, to continue on in some real fashion, and live on in an android, or on the internet, or in a cloned body, or etc., then no, it would be utterly pointless. When the backup is activated, then somewhere in the world there would be a "DonAthos," but the person you're conversing with currently would be dead. (And having my understanding and etc., that DonAthos would be in the position of knowing that it was a "newborn" entity, despite extensive memory apparently to the contrary; an interesting position to be in, to be sure, and perhaps worthy of its own sci-fi exploration. Maybe I should write it.)

Edited by DonAthos

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DA

Before I respond directly to your post I notice something equivalent to begging the question and or possibly equivocation is potentially going on...

IF we assume the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1, the question disappears entirely.  Not A is simply not A.

IF we assume the transporter can make a perfect copy of Kirk 1 in every respect to make a Kirk 2, but that Kirk 2 is not Kirk 1, THEN we have begged the question (at best) or refuted ourselves (at worst).

 

Notice also if we assume a dichotomy between mind and brain AND assume the impossibility of teleporting a mind .. there is nothing to investigate.

Notice if we take natural functioning entities as fundamentally different when considering IDENTITY (NOT sameness.... recall a perfect copy is "the same") under the conditions of a teleportation device e.g.  a car versus a human, either we are assuming the device operates differently upon cars than on humans (it fails in one case), or something funny or supernatural is going on.

 

I'm not saying I disagree with your conclusion... re. sufficiency:

It's sufficient to note that identity is violated to conclude death.  If Kirk 2, IS a perfect recreation somewhere else, Kirk 1 has been replicated, NOT transported.  IDENTITY clearly differentiates between a thing and a copy of a thing.  Replication and destruction is not the same as motion.  The Kirk here is NOT the Kirk there even... if he were dead before being "transported".  And yes this also applies to a car.  Its not about the "effective differences" or any sort of ostensive similarity argument.  A hydrogen atom HERE is not THE hydrogen atom THERE no matter how exactly the same they are when CONSIDERED in isolation and ignoring their positions, environment etc.  Its simply a fact of identity.

IF the thing is transported piece by piece... we have a different problem.  The result might appear the same ... Say we disintegrate the hydrogen atom,,, then move the electron and then the proton, and then reassemble it.  We have something which has the same IDENTICAL constituents, but has the process of disintegration and reintegration really achieved the exact same thing and mere moving the atom?  What about more complex stuff which is dynamic and has complex self referencing interactions?  If you move it bit by bit, that is not the same as moving it all instantaneously...  one bit might change in unnatural ways because of the absence of another bit...  This starts to blur into a question of whether it is even possible to create an "exact copy".  In the end then disintegration of the FPE or an absence of its continuity are probably sufficient to conclude death occurred...

 

I think we need some ground rules about how the transporter works and what it actually can achieve by its doing what it is doing... as a clear final example of begging the question by ignoring everything... suppose the transporter could (magically?), literally instantaneously "pop" (for lack of a better verb) ALL of the entirety of your natural existence/identity from where you are HERE to THERE so that your existence in time was continuous, and only in space was there any discontinuity... would you be the same person?  Again I know this begs the question... but it is presented as an example to ponder how the question can get in the way of the investigation of the issues.

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I yet argue that there is a fundamental metaphysical difference which cannot be assessed from "outside," i.e. it is a different person with respect to the FPE. The Kirk who leaves the transporter is not the same Kirk as the one who entered it; the Kirk who entered the transporter is dead.

But how are you the same person in a way that the transported person can't be? I'll put it this way. When you go to sleep, then wake up the next morning, you are not literally the same person in every way. Things went on when you were unconscious, there was a period of discontinuity between waking. Your mind is different than when you went to bed. You might say this is pedantic, but this is the same level of analysis you're using to say if you're the same person once you are transported. Yet you already said that the resulting person is identical to the first person. So I'm not seeing how your first-person consciousness changes any more than when you wake up from a coma, or recover from amnesia. 

Take the real-life examples of people who literally can't remember a single thing about what they did one hour ago. Does this person die every day, because their mind is brand new every day? You might say that these people actually can remember when they graduated from college, so there is a continuous personal history. But in fact, recalling something like that isn't tapping into first-person experience. Scientists argue if recalling personal events like that is like accessing a database, or created every time as a type of imagination, but whatever the case, it doesn't depend on continuous first-person experience. If you recall your past history at the other end of the transporter, it's the same as the amnesiac remembering his college graduation. If you don't remember what happened or even experienced what happened during those moments of transportation, this is the same as the amnesiac who doesn't remember who he saw on his walk around the block 10 minutes ago. So, again, I'm not seeing where you effectively die when you are transported.

14 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Then it was suggested that this is some rephrasing of the "Ship of Theseus." But no, it is not. It is not a question as to whether we continue to call the entity who emerges from the transporter "Jim Kirk," but: would we be willing to use the transporter?

But you would call the new body the same thing because it behaves in the same way, acts in the same way, remembers in the same way, remembers being transported, and much more. There is no apparent difference, so you would use the same name. "Same" is actually a conceptual distinction - unless you think that things can be the same on a metaphysical level. Now, if the new "you" says something is wrong or weird, similar to what you might say if you hallucinate, I would say the transporter malfunctioned. It broke, and perhaps you really did die. Yet you didn't even say the new body recognizes a change.

Basically, you left open two questions: 1) what, if anything, changed about the first-person experience after being transported?, 2) in what way are you the same person with respect to FPE when you wake up from a coma, or recover from major amnesia?

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5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

DA

Before I respond directly to your post I notice something equivalent to begging the question and or possibly equivocation is potentially going on...

IF we assume the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1, the question disappears entirely.  Not A is simply not A.

IF we assume the transporter can make a perfect copy of Kirk 1 in every respect to make a Kirk 2, but that Kirk 2 is not Kirk 1, THEN we have begged the question (at best) or refuted ourselves (at worst).

The problem here is that we cannot assume either. To assume either is to "beg the question." We are instead trying to ascertain the nature of this copy -- whether it is "perfect," to what extent, and what that means.

If I assume that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1, then I agree that the question disappears; but I cannot assume it. Rather, I argue that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1... in one -- and only one -- respect: FPE.

But this cannot be established from a third-person/"scientific" point of view, because molecule for molecule, test for test, we suppose that the transporter can otherwise make a perfect copy, indeed.

To put this another way...

Suppose that the transporter works as advertised and makes a molecule-for-molecule copy of Kirk (and we can further suppose that it is utilizing the very same stuff, in the very same orientation). Is the resultant Kirk ("Kirk 2") a "perfect copy" in all respects? Or is it not? If it is different, in what way?

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Notice also if we assume a dichotomy between mind and brain AND assume the impossibility of teleporting a mind .. there is nothing to investigate.

I don't believe that there is any dichotomy between mind and brain. In many respects, to transport a brain is to transport a mind.

But again -- and this reflects my argument, not an "assumption" -- with one crucial difference: FPE. A transported brain will have a mind and it will necessarily have an FPE -- but it will not be the same FPE.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Notice if we take natural functioning entities as fundamentally different when considering IDENTITY (NOT sameness.... recall a perfect copy is "the same") under the conditions of a teleportation device e.g.  a car versus a human, either we are assuming the device operates differently upon cars than on humans (it fails in one case), or something funny or supernatural is going on.

I don't believe in the "supernatural," but yes, something "funny" is going on here -- and it is due to the FPE, which is precisely why its metaphysical status can cause such consternation. It is funny because it is inaccessible to our usual "scientific" (i.e. third person) means of understanding the world.

The device does not operate differently upon cars than on humans. We can allow the molecule-for-molecule reproduction (or "translation," or however you care to label it) takes place flawlessly and in the very same manner. And yet the results for me and the car are absolutely different, because (unlike the car), I am liable to die.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I'm not saying I disagree with your conclusion... re. sufficiency:

It's sufficient to note that identity is violated to conclude death.  If Kirk 2, IS a perfect recreation somewhere else, Kirk 1 has been replicated, NOT transported.  IDENTITY clearly differentiates between a thing and a copy of a thing.  Replication and destruction is not the same as motion.  The Kirk here is NOT the Kirk there even... if he were dead before being "transported".  And yes this also applies to a car.

If you're not differentiating between a man and a car in this respect, then we are not yet discussing the same matter.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Its not about the "effective differences" or any sort of ostensive similarity argument.  A hydrogen atom HERE is not THE hydrogen atom THERE no matter how exactly the same they are when CONSIDERED in isolation and ignoring their positions, environment etc.  Its simply a fact of identity.

Yes, every hydrogen atom has its own identity. A human being is more than a pattern of elements, and also more than his constituent elements. A human being is emergent (which is an issue you and I have tussled over before, yet here it is again), "greater than the sum of his parts."

But what is more, the Star Trek approach to the transporter problem supposes that you could break a man down into his constituent elements and then reassemble him -- with those exact same elements and into the very same pattern -- and that, when you do, you have the very same person. It argues that it is Kirk 1, both before and after.

This "sameness" is inarguable from a third person point of view; If I brought Kirk to you today and tomorrow, and in between (perhaps unbeknownst to you) he was transported, you would be utterly incapable of detecting any difference. If Kirk were transported without his knowledge, he (Kirk 2) would also be incapable of detecting any difference.

And yet, he would be different, in one and only one (yet imo a crucial) respect: Kirk 1 would be dead.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

IF the thing is transported piece by piece... we have a different problem.  The result might appear the same ... Say we disintegrate the hydrogen atom,,, then move the electron and then the proton, and then reassemble it.  We have something which has the same IDENTICAL constituents, but has the process of disintegration and reintegration really achieved the exact same thing and mere moving the atom?

Yes. You have merely moved the atom.*

If I disassemble a bed for the purpose of moving the bed across town, and then reassemble it in my new home, I have moved the bed. It is the same bed. Not bed 1 and bed 2, but just bed 1.

But people are different in this way: not supernaturally so, yet in a way that is not accessible to third person observation/"science."

_______________________

* Not "merely," in truth, because you also have done all that you have done -- disassembled and reassembled the atom. But this does neither matter to the atom, nor to anything else, as such.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

What about more complex stuff which is dynamic and has complex self referencing interactions?  If you move it bit by bit, that is not the same as moving it all instantaneously...  one bit might change in unnatural ways because of the absence of another bit...  This starts to blur into a question of whether it is even possible to create an "exact copy".  In the end then disintegration of the FPE or an absence of its continuity are probably sufficient to conclude death occurred...

Disassembling and reassembling a bed is "exact copy" enough for any conceivable purpose, in my opinion. We can allow this to be true of a brain as well. Rather, I argue that the FPE is utterly unique in this regard.

5 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I think we need some ground rules about how the transporter works and what it actually can achieve by its doing what it is doing... as a clear final example of begging the question by ignoring everything... suppose the transporter could (magically?), literally instantaneously "pop" (for lack of a better verb) ALL of the entirety of your natural existence/identity from where you are HERE to THERE so that your existence in time was continuous, and only in space was there any discontinuity... would you be the same person?  Again I know this begs the question... but it is presented as an example to ponder how the question can get in the way of the investigation of the issues.

LOL, well if we allow for magic, then sure, why not? :) Yes: if a transporter could pop you, all of you, here to there, through some "discontinuity in space," you would be the same person; which is to say, in the respect I care about, you would not die. Given this magic, being transported from one's living room to his garage would have the same metaphysical significance as opening the door and walking there.

(As an aside, doubly rendered such through parenthesis to hopefully avoid stumbling down a tangential rabbit hole, I don't know that I've ever resolved Zeno's paradoxes to my own satisfaction, but it is possible that matter already moves through some sort of "discontinuity" on some level, or maybe the "quantum leap" is a kind of example of this.)

***************************

Look, earlier I registered my distaste for "devil's advocate" style argumentation. And so it is. I am utterly and annoyingly earnest (by which I mean: I sometimes annoy myself). Yet maybe it could assist?

Let us suppose that I have invented the Star Trek transporter! I will be rich, I tell you, rich beyond belief!

But first... I need you, StrictlyLogical, to demonstrate the tech to the world. Can I convince you to try it out? I will pay you whatever money you might like (my investors stand ready, at least; or it is a claim against my future earnings, which we grant will come). Suppose that I can further guarantee you that the technology will work exactly as I promise. It is not "magic," but it will disassemble you bit by bit and then reassemble you (with the very same stuff in the very same pattern), moving you from living room to garage. It is as taking apart and moving a bed.

Are you game? Why or why not?

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12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

But how are you the same person in a way that the transported person can't be? I'll put it this way. When you go to sleep, then wake up the next morning, you are not literally the same person in every way.

Forget sleep. In the sense you're talking about, "you are not literally the same person in every way" moment to moment. You are a "different person," Eiuol, from when you began reading this sentence.

But in some crucial and fundamental respects, you are the same. It is still you reading this sentence, and the next. But if you were transported, it would be a different person who came here to record his experience.

The difference between the kind of "difference" we're discussing (yikes), is akin to Heraclitus' possibly apocryphal observation that "you cannot stand in the same river twice," versus standing in the Amazon and Nile. Yes, the waters of the Mississippi are always flowing and changing, and yes, that difference may have some meaning, such that "you cannot stand in the same river twice" is true in a sense... but the Amazon and the Nile? Are two different rivers.

Jim Kirk waking in the morning is different in some respects from the Kirk who went to sleep, it is true. But Jim Kirk post-transporter is a wholly different entity than Jim Kirk pre-transporter, with regards to the FPE.

12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Things went on when you were unconscious, there was a period of discontinuity between waking. Your mind is different than when you went to bed. You might say this is pedantic, but this is the same level of analysis you're using to say if you're the same person once you are transported. Yet you already said that the resulting person is identical to the first person. So I'm not seeing how your first-person consciousness changes any more than when you wake up from a coma, or recover from amnesia.

Because if I wake up from a coma, I would have waken up from the coma: I would be there.

If I enter a transporter, then I will not come out of it. Something will (and it will be called, and call itself, DonAthos). But it will not be me. I will be gone.

12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If you don't remember what happened or even experienced what happened during those moments of transportation, this is the same as the amnesiac who doesn't remember who he saw on his walk around the block 10 minutes ago. So, again, I'm not seeing where you effectively die when you are transported.

It isn't a matter of forgetfulness. It's not a matter of not experiencing transportation. It's a matter of not being present to be able to remember or forget. It's a matter of non-existence.

12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

But you would call the new body the same thing because it behaves in the same way, acts in the same way, remembers in the same way, remembers being transported, and much more. There is no apparent difference, so you would use the same name.

Yes. From a third-person perspective, this is absolutely true.

And even from a first-person perspective -- if we imagine the person who has used the transporter does not share my objection (as I expect Kirk does not) -- the person who has been transported will believe himself to be the very same entity. No (meaningful) discontinuity. No change, except in locality. No real difference.

He's wrong.

12 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Basically, you left open two questions: 1) what, if anything, changed about the first-person experience after being transported?, 2) in what way are you the same person with respect to FPE when you wake up from a coma, or recover from major amnesia?

1) You died. A new FPE was born (which is to say, fundamentally, a new person).

2) You did not die. You are still here, experiencing the world.

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

If I assume that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1, then I agree that the question disappears; but I cannot assume it. Rather, I argue that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1... in one -- and only one -- respect: FPE.

Of course you can make a claim, but currently it is a bald assertion, unless and until we get into the nitty gritty of why it cannot make... according to you, NOT EVEN a perfect copy of Kirk.

And the answer to why I am not game...

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Are you game? Why or why not?

Is because I have not been given enough information to determine that I will not experience death... it comes from an abundance of caution, over the disintegration and disruption of the functioning of the brain involved in the "teleportation".  Especially one which relies on information to disassemble me and put the copy back together.  All computation is finite, granular, precise only to a certain degree.  Reality (even in the QM realm) is not so limited...

 

For fun lets consider a variation on the Magic teleporter...

Some scientist has discovered how to make two infinitely thin membranes, each about the size of a door.  They have the strange property that natural entities when they contact the front surface of one, they appear at the rear surface of the other... and when natural entities come into contact with the rear surface of one they emerge at the front surface of the other.  Oddly enough entities of every size and kind have been tested, individual particles, photons pass through, electric and gravitational fields, quantum interference works perfectly, things on either side of the doors act as though they were in proximity without any boundary, everything we can measure indicates that the doors (which uses no computation of any kind) function like a warp in space... from the front they behave like a continuous portal which does not have any discontinuity, from the side each can be seen as being an infinitely thin discontinuity.  As such it appears as though entities never lose their integrity nor their functioning, nor their identity, when passing though it. They work literally like a warp in space time. 

Would you be game?  Why? or why not?   

............................

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Yes, every hydrogen atom has its own identity. A human being is more than a pattern of elements, and also more than his constituent elements. A human being is emergent (which is an issue you and I have tussled over before, yet here it is again), "greater than the sum of his parts."

This is an equivocation allowing you to insert a kind of mystical element into nature.  It is an attempt to evade the law of the excluded middle between natural and supernatural.  There is no need for nor any evidence of the kind of emergence you are vaguely invoking.

Of course a mind is more than its disassembled constituents, and more than a still, non-functioning version of its assembled constituents, it is specifically structured and functioning in very specific ways.  the constituents make the human possible, and perhaps mind is more of a process (enabled by the structure) than any kind of static structure.  [Thinking IS a process, consciousness IS a process... a frozen brain can do nothing, and any mind within it ceases].

Mind is not created (as a separate entity of some funny "stuff") as a further existential CONSEQUENCE of what the brain does, the mind IS what the brain does.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Jim Kirk waking in the morning is different in some respects from the Kirk who went to sleep, it is true. But Jim Kirk post-transporter is a wholly different entity than Jim Kirk pre-transporter, with regards to the FPE.

What *about* the FPE is different, that doesn't equally apply to waking up from a coma? That's my question. You said it's different, without saying what is different.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Because if I wake up from a coma, I would have waken up from the coma: I would be there.

Again, your response is suffering from imprecision. When you wake up from a coma, what about "you" has woken up? You already agree that the same arrangement of molecules has woken up, and you also specified that the transporter creates the same arrangement of molecules - physically nothing is different. You're saying that the first-person experience is different in some fundamental way, fine, but I still have no idea what difference there is, even from the perspective of the person being transported. You said that the transported person even remembers being transported, and everything feels continuous. The difference, then, seems to be as banal and trivial as the difference between my state of mind before writing this post, and after. 

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

It's a matter of not being present to be able to remember or forget. It's a matter of non-existence.

Just like somebody in a coma, just like the person with severe amnesia.

Amnesia isn't just forgetting, some types of amnesia are the inability to create memories in the first place. This isn't a sci-fi example, there are real people with this kind of amnesia. In fact, you could argue that an amnesiac effectively dies when their ability to remember moment to moment has been obliterated. But these people also have brain damage (whole parts of the hippocampus are destroyed) - they are physically different. So the amnesiac fits your concerns even better, and is more clearly different than the transported body. I call the amnesiac the same person, and changes even more than the transported person, which is why my position is that the transported person is the same. SL is saying that the question is moot if a perfect copy is not made (a fine and consistent position); I'm saying that even if an imperfect mind-copy is made, the person is still the same. 

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

1) You died. A new FPE was born (which is to say, fundamentally, a new person).

2) You did not die. You are still here, experiencing the world.

Both of these are begging the question. I know your position, that's not my question.

 

Edited by Eiuol

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

And the answer to why I am not game...

Is because I have not been given enough information to determine that I will not experience death... it comes from an abundance of caution, over the disintegration and disruption of the functioning of the brain involved in the "teleportation".  Especially one which relies on information to disassemble me and put the copy back together.  All computation is finite, granular, precise only to a certain degree.  Reality (even in the QM realm) is not so limited...

All right. Well, then, suppose I do not ask you to go first -- suppose that I invite Eiuol, first, and he blithely agrees. You and I await him on the far end, in the garage, and...

Sure enough. Eiuol materializes in the garage. He appears to be in full working order. We submit him to whatever tests you might imagine and he passes them all -- he is, with respect to every test we administer (meaning: any test you could hope to devise) -- the same person who stepped into the transporter in the living room, and in the same condition.

He also certainly believes himself to be Eiuol, and to have transported successfully from the living room to the garage. He tells us that my fears were overblown, and that he is in fact the same individual, no different than if he'd just taken a little nap and woken up.

Suppose we witness a hundred such demonstrations. A thousand. A million.

Would you then be willing to do it yourself?

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

For fun lets consider a variation on the Magic teleporter...

Some scientist has discovered how to make two infinitely thin membranes, each about the size of a door.  They have the strange property that natural entities when they contact the front surface of one, they appear at the rear surface of the other... and when natural entities come into contact with the rear surface of one they emerge at the front surface of the other.  Oddly enough entities of every size and kind have been tested, individual particles, photons pass through, electric and gravitational fields, quantum interference works perfectly, things on either side of the doors act as though they were in proximity without any boundary, everything we can measure indicates that the doors (which uses no computation of any kind) function like a warp in space... from the front they behave like a continuous portal which does not have any discontinuity, from the side each can be seen as being an infinitely thin discontinuity.  As such it appears as though entities never lose their integrity nor their functioning, nor their identity, when passing though it. They work literally like a warp in space time. 

Would you be game?  Why? or why not?

Without understanding how the portal functions, I don't have any particular bias for or against; if it is reliant upon transporter technology, for instance, I would have to decline. :)

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This is an equivocation allowing you to insert a kind of mystical element into nature.  It is an attempt to evade the law of the excluded middle between natural and supernatural.  There is no need for nor any evidence of the kind of emergence you are vaguely invoking.

I disagree on all counts -- that there is anything mystical or supernatural about emergence, or even that I am doing anything "vaguely": I invoked emergence directly and by name. But perhaps to discuss the subject would take us too far afield, for the moment.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Of course a mind is more than its disassembled constituents, and more than a still, non-functioning version of its assembled constituents, it is specifically structured and functioning in very specific ways.  the constituents make the human possible, and perhaps mind is more of a process (enabled by the structure) than any kind of static structure.  [Thinking IS a process, consciousness IS a process... a frozen brain can do nothing, and any mind within it ceases].

Mind is not created (as a separate entity of some funny "stuff") as a further existential CONSEQUENCE of what the brain does, the mind IS what the brain does.

None of this is at issue. But I am desperate to get you to understand what is at issue.

Again, suppose as perfect a transporter as you can imagine, though not magic; it disassembles you and then reconstitutes you at a distance, molecule for molecule, perfectly. I recognize the concern you've raised that "all computation is finite, granular, precise only to a certain degree," and yes, this is true -- but suppose that the transporter is sufficiently precise to allow transportation without error (or if we must call upon magic, that it is "magically precise" to an infinite degree).

Your brain along with the rest of you will be reconstituted exactly -- it will not thereafter be a "frozen brain," but a brain fully and equally capable of thinking, consciousness, mind.

Do you have any objections then?

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Again, your response is suffering from imprecision. When you wake up from a coma, what about "you" has woken up? You already agree that the same arrangement of molecules has woken up, and you also specified that the transporter creates the same arrangement of molecules - physically nothing is different. You're saying that the first-person experience is different in some fundamental way, fine, but I still have no idea what difference there is, even from the perspective of the person being transported.

Yes, physically nothing is different. Yes, the FPE is different in some fundamental way. Here is the perspective of the person being transported:

"Here I am, about to transport to the garage. Scotty, energize!"

<PERMANENT VOID>

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

You said that the transported person even remembers being transported, and everything feels continuous.

Yes, the person who emerges from the transporter into the garage remembers being transported (well, at least until the moment of transport; I don't suppose there would be any capacity for memory during) and feels that everything was continuous.

"Hey," he says. "It worked!"

But that person up above? Here's his current POV:

<PERMANENT VOID>

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

The difference, then, seems to be as banal and trivial as the difference between my state of mind before writing this post, and after. 

Nope! :)

My apologies, but I'm not going to extend myself to amnesia just now. Let us try to pin down the subject before us, first, which I believe concerns far more than mere memory. You say that your position "is that the transported person is the same."

All right, fair enough. Are we agreed as to the terms of transportation? A person is disassembled (into whatever constituent elements) and then reconstituted at a distance.

We have two scenarios I'd like you to consider, if you would? Scenario A is what I've agreed to before, to help satisfy SL: that the material used for reconstitution is exactly the same, molecule for molecule. Scenario B is the potentially more challenging one: use of new/different material in the reconstitution.

For suppose, in reconstitution, that some other single atom or molecule is used -- one part out of what? A lot. (A cursory search reports that there are "over sixty trillion cells in the human body"; and possibly twenty-three trillion molecules per cell. A big number.)

Probably there is far greater physical variation in you between writing a post and after, than a transportation which switches a single atom, or molecule, or cell. So I expect -- though correct me if I'm wrong -- that this does not pose any great problem to your position. But then, could we switch out two? Three? How many?

In fact, I don't know why you should favor one group of oxygen atoms over another, do you? For the purpose of reconstitution, I mean. It would appear to me that one oxygen atom should be as good as any other, and that this same reasoning could be applied to you, atom for atom. Or is there anything characteristic or particular about a Eiuol-atom, such that to change it would make it no longer true that "the transported person is the same" (in the same sense as waking up from sleep)?

I invite you to speak for yourself on the subject, but if you hold that "the transported person is the same," can you speak to whether it is important that the same atoms or molecules are used? If it is important, why? If it is not important, could we yet reconstitute you with an entirely different set of atoms/molecules?

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DA 

Both of your examples are not sufficiently explained for a reasoned decision.  The term “transporter” does not magically convey the process by which it works or the limitations of its operation.  BY definition a transporter is a fiction whose workings are arbitrarily determined by how it is hypothesized.  Although apparently you do not care how it works and assert almost as if because we call it a transporter it will naturally fail.

In each case there is a piecewise disintegration and cessation of the natural process of mind which I already said is a no go.  Halfway through the process my brain no longer would be functional to have a mind.  whatever half processes it aborted and attempted would not amount to a mind and would not be functioning as me... or anyone.  what would be required is literally resurrection of a dead person whose mind suffered disintegration and discontinuity.  Even with identity of the natural constituents I draw the line there because mind is also a process.

 

As for your FPE and emergence... you’ve not provided any rationale for your conclusion.  Perhaps you have not reached your conclusion through a process of thought.  It appears to be a feeling.  If not please explain.

The transporter. if it fails, it fails for identifiable reasons... I have provided some.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
extensive edit for clarity

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53 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

But that person up above? Here's his current POV:

<PERMANENT VOID>


If you assert this is so by the constraints of the thought experiment, fine, but I contend this is a plot hole. 

This "permanent void" needs some kind of explanation. Death is a permanent void because there is no means to resume continuity of that consciousness. Resuming continuity is built into your thought experiment, so I don't see a permanent void. In a way, I'm asking you to be more specific about what the permanent void of death even is. There are plenty of voids that go on, so if absolute cessation is your standard, you already said when the void ends, it is not a permanent void. If duration is your standard, the transporter is already a lot quicker than a coma, it is not a permanent void. I'm throwing all kinds of tests of consciousness and self (memory, likeness of experiences to prior experiences), and I'm still not getting your permanent void interpretation. The memory part is important, because I see this as a critical part of establishing whether you are the same person.

53 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

I invite you to speak for yourself on the subject, but if you hold that "the transported person is the same," can you speak to whether it is important that the same atoms or molecules are used? If it is important, why? If it is not important, could we yet reconstitute you with an entirely different set of atoms/molecules?

I don't think it would matter how many you swap out, exactly like the ship of Theseus. I don't think the sameness of the molecules even matter, as I said about the amnesiac who has brain damage and can't remember what happened 10 minutes ago. If we replaced the damaged brain tissue with completely prosthetic material, you might contend that this new prosthetic piece of brain creates "false" memories because they are artificially created. It's not that the original brain tissue are the only real parts of the original person. An artificial heart doesn't create "false" circulation, it's just as real as the circulation before. Of course circulation lacks FPE, I just don't see what changes about FPE except a temporary void.  

As long as my other tests of consciousness and self pass (so far, we haven't come up with cases where these tests aren't passed), you could reconstitute me with whatever you want.  


 

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36 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think it would matter how many you swap out, exactly like the ship of Theseus.

All right, perfect.

StrictlyLogical? I'm going to focus my answer here, because Eiuol is arguing the exact opposite of my contention: that "the transported person is the same" and furthermore that the specific material does not matter. I hope that by discussing this, I can shed more light on the nature of my contention (though not necessarily on "emergence," which is a separate matter and would probably be more appropriate to its own thread).

36 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

As long as my other tests of consciousness and self pass (so far, we haven't come up with cases where these tests aren't passed), you could reconstitute me with whatever you want.

That's quite an offer. I will refrain from joking further with... great difficulty. ;)

But seriously, this is the ideal stance against which to test my own. I am curious as to whether there are any specific "tests of consciousness and self" you have in mind?

Suffice it to say, in the meantime, that the Eiuol (or Kirk, or whomever you'd prefer) who emerges from the transporter satisfies every scientific test as to being the same person -- and that they believe themselves to be the same person who entered the transporter, with no discontinuity of memory (apart from the actual transportation, during which time there is no entity capable of memory, but some assembly of disintegrated material).

If the fundamental, constituent material itself does not matter, I wonder whether there are any other restrictions or considerations? For instance, temporal: You enter the transporter and are broken down into constituents. Then you are reconstituted at a distance, yes? We envision this happening with practical simultaneity -- but does it have to be so? Could you be reconstituted a minute later? An hour? A year?

Also, your responses lead me to suspect that you would support other sci-fi conventions I've mentioned before. For instance, do you suppose it to be possible that your consciousness could effectively be transported online? Or into another mechanism, like a robot/android? Or does it require a traditionally human-biological medium?

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Grunching. The resolution to this is whether or not every particle from "the old body and therefore mind" was or wasn't entangled with the particles of the "new body/mind". If the answer is yes they were priorly entangled (and this would likely be a requirement for this technology to work) then yes, the mind is the same and the person is the same and never "died". If however the technology just put together a second copy without being previously entangled (something like construction via nanobot or "Maxwell's Demon" then no it's not the same person and the first person was killed to make way for the second. Again, it's quantum entanglement of all the "old" particles of a person's mind with all of the particles of the "new" person's mind that guarantees continuity of the same mind. Without that entanglement the situation would be the "death conundrum" that OP states.

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To detail what I mean, let's change a detail from the original thought experiment. You walk into a lab here on earth and some machine just scans your entire body and most importantly mind but *without* destroying you in the process. This information is then sent to the moon at the speed of light. While on the moon some piece of technology receives this data and builds you, identically, there. Earth you, and Moon you now exist. Both the original and the copy think they are you.

Moon you immediately hops on the next rocket back to earth and meets up with Earth you. You are clearly two separate entities and every reasonable person including yourself and your copy will agree who is the original and who is the copy. At this point, it is obvious to see what OP was trying to explain: That regardless of the advantages of the exact copy of you may benefit from, you would clearly die if you allowed the lab to incinerate you the original being. Just because in OP's original transporter post you are vaporized on earth before the data is sent to the moon, it doesn't change the fact that you die.

The only difference I added above so that you don't die in this way is that first all the particles that make up you and your mind are first entangled with a second identical set of particles such that they are correlated quantum mechanically.

So let's rerun you walking into the lab again but this time the scan of your body/mind also simultaneously entangles your particles with a second set of particles which are then beamed to the moon for assembly. Again, you were only scanned and entangled, and the earth you was in no way harmed or vaporized before this happened. So Moon you now materializes on the moon, but in this instance since every particle in your original Earth mind is quantum mechanically entangled with your new Moon you copy, assuming somehow we had the technology to avoid decoherence of macroscopic wave functions, you would now be able to experience life on earth and life on the moon simultaneously in one consciousness (I imagine this would be extremely weird if possible lol).

Weirdness aside, being able to experience, both places at once, or maybe even one or the other depending on your choosing, you would eventually come to realize that you are, in this case at least, the same conscious volitional entity regardless of the body you choose. And choosing to eliminate one over the other would simply be a choice based on present need, and whichever one you choose you will always continue to live without a break in conscious continuity nor death.

Oh, and since I'm talking to other Objectivists that have a natural tendency to disbelieve quantum entanglement actually exists, I should show that it's existence has essentially been proven recently, with about one part in 100 billion billion chance of it being incorrect just from the data. http://news.mit.edu/2018/light-ancient-quasars-helps-confirm-quantum-entanglement-0820

 

Quote

“If some conspiracy is happening to simulate quantum mechanics by a mechanism that is actually classical, that mechanism would have had to begin its operations — somehow knowing exactly when, where, and how this experiment was going to be done — at least 7.8 billion years ago. That seems incredibly implausible, so we have very strong evidence that quantum mechanics is the right explanation,” says co-author Alan Guth, the Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics at MIT.

“The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, so any alternative mechanism — different from quantum mechanics — that might have produced our results by exploiting this loophole would’ve had to be in place long before even there was a planet Earth, let alone an MIT,” adds David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and professor of physics at MIT. “So we’ve pushed any alternative explanations back to very early in cosmic history.”

 

Edited by EC

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3 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But seriously, this is the ideal stance against which to test my own. I am curious as to whether there are any specific "tests of consciousness and self" you have in mind?

Well, several things.

Continuity of experience (the sort of feeling when you wake up, whether that is from sleeping or a coma)
Continuity of memory (feeling that your past history is connected to your current history, and your imagined future history)
Some progression or linear set of events from original form (how you change from when you wake up in the morning is a pretty straightforward change)
A sense of free will

There might be other ways to tell if someone is the same person, but I am essentially using things for a basic psychological evaluation of feeling present and feeling like an individual. Whether it is a thought experiment or real life, this is what I would do.

3 hours ago, DonAthos said:

We envision this happening with practical simultaneity -- but does it have to be so? Could you be reconstituted a minute later? An hour? A year?

Any amount of time.

3 hours ago, DonAthos said:

For instance, do you suppose it to be possible that your consciousness could effectively be transported online? Or into another mechanism, like a robot/android? Or does it require a traditionally human-biological medium?

It can be any of those things. I question if a purely online form could meet all the criteria, (e.g., do you need sense perception to have continuity of experience?) but nothing makes me say no right off the bat. 
 

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12 hours ago, DonAthos said:

We envision this happening with practical simultaneity -- but does it have to be so? Could you be reconstituted a minute later? An hour? A year?

FWIW, this happened on Star Trek, the Next Generation, and the time span was considerably more than a single year.  They found a place where two people had been stranded long ago and had put themselves into the transporter, in effect being indefinitely in the middle of being transported.  Presumably the hope was that someone would come along to complete the transportation and rescue them.  One of the signals had deteriorated over time and the person could not be brought back.  The other could be.  It was Scotty from classic Star Trek.

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The transporter is somewhat of a trifle... (not a tribble) but it has the potential to reveal how different Objectivists interpret (get wrong or right?) Objectivist metaphysics.

The way identity and particularity of existents has been ignored, flexed, bent, and word-smithed is somewhat alarming and disheartening.  There is plenty of room to ponder the questions raised by the teleporter within a solid philosophy grounded in existence/nature/identity... but unfortunately this is not what we see playing out, and to see the pondering result in bending that philosophy based on nothing but feeling or intuition, is sad.

There is nothing more or less than existence = identity.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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On 11/17/2018 at 4:09 AM, Grames said:

This paradox attempts to create a dichotomy between matter and form, substance and structure, and people reveal something about themselves when they favor one or the other as the essence of identity.  Paraphrasing Aristotle, there is no form without matter and no matter exists without form so there should be no dichotomy.

What is difficult to place into this framework is the transporter brushing with death in order to accomplish the goal. Is the transporter severing matter and form, substance and structure? If so, how? 

Recollections of watching Star Trek episodes, the person at the controls moved a lever, and at one time, there was like a cylinder of what appeared to be television static, the camera would switch to the destination, and the static would resolve into Kirk or Spock, and the show would continue. Everything else is conjecture in the individual minds of what they imagine "must have happened". Until a working model of a transporter is built, God formed woman from Adam's rib is about as informative as God spake and firmaments appeared between the waters.

Google query on "how does a star trek transporter work":

A transporter is a fictional teleportation machine used in the Star Trek universe. Transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern (a process called dematerialization), then "beam" it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter (rematerialization).

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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