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Everything posted by DonAthos

  1. Absolutely right. Yes, although: a person can be more or less rational, in selecting a standard of value, in evaluating particular things or actions against that standard of value, etc. Moral action is a bit more, perhaps, than refraining from sacrificing others. A drug addict, for instance, who burns through a miserable, short existence (while only in this example destroying himself in the process, however unlikely that might be in reality) generally cannot be said to be "valuing their own life," either acting rationally or morally. (Might there be a proper context for this sort of behavior? There well might, though it would require a bit of invention to conjure. And other people may rightly use drugs with more or less reason in many contexts; in fact we classify an entire group of them as "medicine.") Yes, what someone chooses to do with their life is up to them, but that doesn't mean we look upon all possible choices equally. I enjoyed his show, too. And what little I knew about the man, I just liked him generally. And while I agree that, so long as Irwin is not sacrificing others what he wants to do is up to him, again, I think that there's more to discuss. It seems to satisfy a political requirement, but with respect to morality we can yet ask, was Irwin right to pursue a dangerous career? IMO, it's nearly impossible to answer this without being Steve Irwin, or at least without knowing him well. Values such as these are deeply personal. In part, that's what I'm pushing back against: this undercurrent among certain Objectivists that these sorts of choices (like one's degree of "healthy living") may be judged out of context. I think this typically comes from a too narrow conception of what "life" means, when considering "life as the standard of value." The thinking seems to go something like: 1) life is the standard of value; 2) a dangerous career stands to shorten one's lifespan; 3) a dangerous career is a disvalue. Thus, Steve Irwin must be immoral for knowingly pursuing a dangerous career. But life is more than longevity, and based on what I do know about Irwin, and what I've observed, I'd say that his choice appears rational -- or at least that it might be. He certainly seems to have gotten a lot out of his vocation, in the time he had to do so. As perhaps a shorthand for all of this, imagine a loved one. If that loved one was spiraling down a path of drug abuse, you might be concerned; in fact, you might try to intervene to some greater or lesser extent (even while recognizing that they are well within their "political right" to act as they do). Push come to shove, you might be motivated to some more drastic choice, like cutting ties, or etc., but altogether this would be a distressing and negative situation for all involved. Now imagine that a loved one was a burgeoning Steve Irwin. You might experience some large measure of concern, here, too, watching your loved one travel paths most would dread -- but would you want to stop the next Irwin from emerging, for the sake of their "safety"? What is the heroic and the anti-heroic, here? Indeed, I can rather imagine such a person pursuing accounting because they have been convinced (in error, I argue) that "longevity is the standard of value." That seems to me to be the sort of error that might plague a Randian hero in the first half of the book. And that I would hold to be the mistake -- that choice that might be argued against, that might call for some degree of intervention from friends and loved ones. Because knowing who they are, an extended career in accounting would be like a slow, agonizing, living death; the more moral choice for that person, perhaps ironically, may well be the more exciting-yet-dangerous path -- even if that would predictably lead to an earlier actual death. I also value my life and I believe that there is nothing after this life. However, "living as long as possible" is not my standard of value. There are choices I have made, and will continue to make, which are geared towards putting my experience of life, my enjoyment of it, it's "fullness," etc., above its actual span. In largely the same way (though coming from a somewhat different direction, perhaps), I also pursue "diet and exercise" -- in moderation, with the occasional binge. Agreed; I'm not Steve Irwin, either. Chocodiles > Crocodiles. Deal. Let me know when you're in the PNW. (We have good salmon.)
  2. Of course; you're underestimating how good ice cream is, as we speak. Perhaps it is, sometimes, but 1) you shouldn't presume to speak for others and their values, and 2) you shouldn't act as though there's necessarily no value to "routine and comfort." It sounds like you're describing a form of Stockholm Syndrome. But seriously, you realize I have had broccoli before, right? And salmon. And burgers. I like all of those things just fine. (Though, all else being equal, if I'm having a burger it will be a burger -- and if I'm having salmon, it will be salmon. While I'm certain just about anything could be enjoyable if prepared correctly, a "salmon burger" sounds like an intrinsically poorer proposition than either of its basic constituents.) I don't think you could possibly have taken me to mean that I only consume ice cream? But typically, no, when I eat ice cream, sautéed broccoli with garlic would not be a fitting substitute. And before you reply with something slightly dessert-ier like sliced apples, ultimately we have to realize that things are what they are. There's no 1-to-1: it's a matter of valuing things for what they are and choosing among them accordingly. I'm fully capable of weighing ice cream versus broccoli, or any other thing, according to my experience and information and as against my own standards. There are times and places where I prefer ice cream, and in those times and places, I choose it. But the overarching point -- that which bedevils us across threads and years -- is that my standard of value is not longevity. Longevity is not a full accounting of "life." IMO, a rational person may select values which are actively and knowingly detrimental to longevity -- which bring on either an earlier death or some greater risk of an earlier death. "Ice cream" is a fairly superficial (though true-to-life and hopefully relatable) way for me to describe this, but it can run much deeper. Consider Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter." He pursued a very dangerous vocation. It was reasonable for him to assume all throughout that he might well die far earlier than otherwise, for the fact of pursuing it. And of course, he did die quite early, at 44. But for that, I don't think his choices were irrational. And while I know there are those who would try to extract some argument that, somehow, Irwin's choices could be interpreted as being somehow pro-longevity, I think it's an attempt to avoid the obvious: his choice of career made early death far, far likelier, and the results were not particularly surprising. But that choice of career was not in pursuit of the longest life, but the fullest (and what I would accordingly describe as the "best"). "Ice cream," though also a literal thing I am often happy to consume, is really more a stand-in for this basic approach -- pursing the fullest/best life, even at the potential cost of its length. The opposite, sacrificing the fullness of life for the sake of extending its length, ironically smells of death to me. But I don't know -- would you have tried to convince Steve Irwin to be an accountant, instead, Eiuol? That "over time, these less-risky occupations grow to be even more appealing than the adventurous ones"?
  3. "Citizenship" is not the same as "access." But yes, Americans do not have a right to restrict access to their country, as such (apart from the sort of background check EC mentions and that which is required procedurally). There is no "will of the people" in this sense. There may be a majority vote, perhaps. But if I have property in the US -- let us say a store -- and if a Mexican wishes to come to my store, you and your majority vote have no right to tell that Mexican he may not come to my store, and no right to restrict my access to his patronage. (And furthermore, no right to restrict home sales in my neighborhood, etc.) This is so even if you believe yourself to represent the fictitious "will of the people." (Since you have taken aim at "logical consistency," you might not care, but what you're proposing here runs directly counter to the "freedom of association" that elsewhere you seem to think important.)
  4. This is something like what I was alluding to earlier, with the "curious line of thought" that "great people cannot do bad things -- and bad people cannot do good." But I don't think our only choices are to regard them as either heroes or Nazis. Were there aspects of the conquistadors which were heroic (and maybe more pronounced in certain individuals)? Undoubtedly. Exploration required it. Did they commit moral atrocities? Yes. Lol, you guys, are we just going to pass over the bizarreness of Roman Catholicism? As just one minor belief (among many many), they suppose that, during ritual, wine and wafer transform into blood and flesh... which they then consume, because of course. And we're talking about times around and during the Inquisition, I do believe (though you probably were not expecting it)... so that flying serpent sounds better to me by the minute. (To clarify, I do not advocate the worship of flying serpents, human sacrifice, or whatever else the Mesoamericans might have been getting themselves up to; only I'm not going to ridicule religious belief if the standard of comparison is the goddamned Catholic Church.)
  5. Life-extension methods? Certainly. I eat, breathe, sleep... most of those daily. More generally, I think, I learn, I produce, I consume. All of those either aim to extend my life, in part, or do so as a happy byproduct. Most of what you mention I only engage in incidentally, like drinking coffee/tea -- not for the sake of "extending my life," per se; and I would consume them if there were not the current scientific link you mention; and i would consume them, most likely, if they had slightly deleterious effects. Your questions get at the root of ethics, a question I've tried to address on this forum several times, though rarely to anyone's satisfaction. I suspect I sit somewhere in the "excluded middle." I give some amount of thought to diet and exercise (and sometimes I even take action in the same direction), so that's a kind of "provision for long-term health," I believe, along with medical check-ups, etc. But I do not let my actions be dictated by long-term health concerns; to continue to use my long-running (or long-suffering) example, I yet eat ice cream on a semi-regular basis, and I plan to do so to the grave. I do so because my primary interest is not in forestalling or avoiding death, but living life.
  6. I may not have much to contribute here, as I've only approached Eastern philosophy through some books written to popularize it to Western audiences, or which have used it as a framework (e.g. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the works of Hermann Hesse, Ram Dass, various self-help books, etc.). I did read the Bhagavad Gita, actually, but that was long, long ago, and while I was still investigating religion (en route to philosophy proper). Anyways, while there is often surface disagreement with Objectivism, or my take on it, I've found that there's potential for compatibility underneath. Or perhaps there is no formal compatibility, as yet, but I look to try to gain what insights I can for myself. It's interesting -- a few weeks ago, I finally decided to try to read Barbara Branden's biography of Rand, after years of it staring at me from my bookshelf. What with all of the controversy surrounding it, I'll make no claim as to its accuracy, but Branden's early description of Rand living so much in the future that she rarely truly enjoyed the present moment has stuck with me: I think it's a problem I've suffered, too, and I have found some relief over the years in eastern-inspired practices, such as meditation/mindfulness/yoga. As directly regards the thread's topic, I do think there's a self (and it may be "illusory" in some respect, perhaps, depending on how one sees it initially, but never completely so: I think that "self" has real meaning). If there is an "essential self," it is that which focuses, perhaps; though whatever the "essential self" is, that is not equal to the self, in total. The self does also contain emotions and dreams and everything which that entity I am is. I am all of it, everything I am. Aspects of me may change, yet I am still myself, because that essential self, aware and focusing and experiencing, remains. We've recently touched on a similar topic here, and accordingly, I'm not entirely certain what would be involved in "transferring someone else's faculty of awareness into your brain," (which sounds a bit to me like "transferring someone else's brain into your brain"), but I tend to believe that would result in you becoming someone else. Or more precisely, you ceasing to exist. I am the thing experiencing this world, which (to reflect that part of Eastern philosophy I'm probably getting wrong) includes the contents of my own mind. When I am no longer the thing experiencing this world -- when that window of consciousness or perception or awareness closes -- then I am gone, and no longer myself, regardless of the disposition of my body/brain/etc., and regardless of how the rest of the world perceives me.
  7. No, not every rights-violator is equal. And I agree that we can talk about kings being "excellent," so long as we're keeping ourselves within that narrow context you mention (and has there been a government that hasn't violated rights? not yet). But there's a lot of important discussion to be had outside of that context, too, and understanding. Augustus or Aurelius may have been great emperors, but they were still tyrannical. It's important to retain both aspects in mind, if we're going to regard them fairly. The best slave owner may be much better than the worst, but he is still a slave owner. For instance, I'd asked you whether we should expect someone who'd had their loved one massacred by the British colonial government would be so thankful as you are for things like the spread of the telegraph. You didn't respond, but I'm going to go ahead and suppose that it's unlikely. When we're discussing such wide abstractions as "British colonialism was more good than bad," we lose sight of the individual. Yet questions of "good" and "bad" ought spark us to ask "good/bad for whom"? Governments that violate rights are obviously not good for everyone. For some, they might be very, very bad indeed. And whatever good we suppose that they do does not justify those rights that they violate, lest we start to see some people as necessary (if unfortunate) sacrifices for the sake of societal progress. So, you know, I can say on one hand that the United States represented (and continues to represent) a huge step forward -- progress towards liberty/capitalism -- which I think is true. But at the same time, the framers made many mistakes. IMO, those mistakes were weighty enough that we carry some of the scars of them to the present day. And for as many people who are "thankful" for European settlement of the Americas, I'm also understanding of those who are more sensitive to the misdeeds done along the way. I think it's a mistake to either pretend not to see those misdeeds, or to pretend they don't exist or matter, and also a mistake to only take them into account, or to refuse to acknowledge that the United States yet represents progress. Yet because of its mixed nature, that progress has been uneven. And the people who have had their rights violated (meaning not only Native Americans, not only slaves, but also all those citizens who have had their rights violated) are not made whole by the notion that this represents "progress" in some abstract fashion, or that things might supposedly be worse elsewhere or elsewise. You and I have, for instance, discussed the drug war in this sort of context before, and I yet maintain that America, for all its supposed blessings, might not mean a great deal to the person who is stuck behind bars, for years, for doing things that ought not even be a crime at all. That person experiences the American justice system as unjust, as evil, and he is right. We are ourselves unjust when we fail to take that sort of thing into account as we evaluate the current system. It's not wart-free, and it's not wart-only, but it must be warts and all.
  8. Well, rather than using this as a rhetorical tool, isn't this also an interesting question to try to answer? There are people who are ambivalent about American history for that very reason (and also the treatment of Native Americans, and other things). There is a curious line to Objectivist thought, sometimes (not saying that this is true of you, though it might be) that holds that great people cannot do bad things -- and bad people cannot do good. Or that it is somehow inappropriate to discuss such things. We sometimes eschew complication. Yet real life is often very complicated. But what do we make of a figure like Jefferson, who both wrote the Declaration of Independence and owned slaves?
  9. All right. But did you skip the post I was responding to, and that I'd quoted? Because DevilsAdvocate described "formidable interlopers whose actions demonstrated the practice of 'might makes right,' regardless of how they spoke about it," and my post was in response to this idea. Perhaps you disagree that colonizers/colonists (either generally, or specifically in some case) acted in a manner that demonstrated "might makes right," as DevilsAdvocate suggested, or that they enslaved people or violated their rights. If you do disagree, then we can discuss those historical details... or not, as we see fit (I'm still weighing the value in engaging EC on the historical details of the Native Americans). Anyways, I won't judge your "skipping posts" in whatever manner you'd like, but I will insist that if you want to understand any individual post, it must be done in suitable context. My post must be understood as replying directly to DevilsAdvocate's post -- and I figure that was part of your "dialog," and was not skipped -- yet your response to me does not demonstrate that essential understanding. To answer your question more directly, I don't know whether someone in this thread has claimed that you can communicate the principles of capitalism/reason through violating rights. I'm certain no one would claim such a thing explicitly, but I'm not nearly as certain that no one's claims could not amount to that position (whether the claimant is aware of it or not). But then, I wasn't responding to anyone other than DevilsAdvocate and I did not intend to show that anyone was specifically making that claim; I was, however, stating that you cannot communicate the principles of capitalism by enslaving people or otherwise violating their rights -- and I stand by it. I think that matters with respect to discussions of historical colonization, etc., because I believe that often "colonizers" (however you choose to define the term) have violated the rights of their subject populations. In doing so, further, I am certain that there were lessons taught and learned, but I'm not certain that these lessons amounted to a respect for individual rights (and imo, this might help us to understand the proliferation of socialist governments in former colonial societies). I don't know -- have they? I don't plan on reviewing the entire thread to find out, but the OP begins by asking the question "is colonialism moral?", so it looks like the position that "colonialism is a good thing" is at least meant to be entertained, whether or not anyone has explicitly taken up for it. In my opinion, this is the other side of the "nationalism" argument Grames is making elsewhere (or communicating, at least, though I expect that it reflects his own views as well): I don't think either "colonialism" or "nationalism" is good or bad, as such (it shouldn't matter the ethnic background of a ruler, at least; though I'm yet uncertain as to whether this completely addresses either "nationalism" or "colonialism"), but what matters is whether a system of government recognizes and protects individual rights. Maybe we don't find particular fault with historical colonizers on that score, despite having poor track records (if we agree they do), because we don't judge that their subject populations would have done any better. Yet I also don't find any particular virtue in colonizers, either, and I continue to evaluate them by the standard I hold for everyone else (broadly, with respect to politics): did they respect individual rights, or did they not? And where the claim is sometimes made that colonizers were "better" in some respect vis-a-vis politics than their subject population, because they had a better understanding of "property" or what have you: 1) yes, I do hear in this argument echoes of the notion that "colonialism is a good thing, in the sense of something we should maybe aspire toward, in order to come closer to capitalism" -- or at least that it was a good thing, in a given context, and it might be again; 2) as I'd said (but was not quoted/addressed by you), "I never know how much that is supposed to matter to the person who is yet unfairly despoiled." For instance -- though understand that I'm no expert in Indian history (and you probably know more than I) -- we might consider an event like this. Your first contribution to this thread -- your first sentence, in fact -- was to thank the British for colonizing India, because (among other things) the British "brought railways, industry, telegraph." But would you expect the loved one of someone massacred by the British to share your appreciation for their rule?
  10. A claim like what? I don't think I was responding to you, actually; but if you find your views reflected or refuted somewhere in my remarks, I suppose you can sort that out for yourself. Or if there's something I'd said you disagree with, please feel free.
  11. I can't talk about India much, but I think the point stands that you do not communicate the principles of capitalism (or reason more generally) by enslaving people or otherwise violating their rights. If the colonizers of India or the colonists of North America had believed firmly in such rights or "property" as we understand it, etc., I believe that they would have acted much differently. As to the typical observation that they were generally "better" in some rights-respecting way, perhaps that's true, though I never know how much that is supposed to matter to the person who is yet unfairly despoiled.
  12. So you take Trump's actions generally as being supportive of free trade? Here's an opinion considering that analysis, among other possibilities. I don't know. I think it's possibly an error to consider Trump as being particularly principled in any direction -- except for the bedrock that is his own aggrandizement. But it certainly seems to me that he's not afraid to violate what I would otherwise consider to be free markets, or the individual rights which make free markets possible. If that's a "negotiating tool," I don't know that it makes it any better. I don't think he cares about things like "rights." In any event, how do you square your interpretation with Trump's threatening US businesses against moving overseas? For instance, here is a write-up of Trump's reaction to Harley-Davidson. This does not sound to me like a principled free-trader in action. Race has nothing to do with nationalism, either currently or historically? All right. I think there's possibly something arguable here, but I'll leave it for others, or for another time. Okay; I will look forward to that being addressed later. Do you also consider it a "valid and pertinent question" as to how it is proposed to enforce a preference for nationalism? Perhaps we have decided that the Quebecois and Basques, etc., should have states -- or perhaps not -- but how generally does the nationalist propose to preserve his culture against demographic shifts, immigration and emigration, influx of foreign media, etc.? Can this be done without violating individual rights?
  13. I think this question is "superficial and artificial" partly because it's not yet clear exactly what we're discussing, in terms of actual policy (and thus how it might intersect with capitalism/individual rights). Is this supposed "nationalism" versus "imperialist" discussion merely a question of organization (like discussions of the federal government/states rights)? Or are there actual policy proposals, waiting in the wings (like how "states rights" have sometimes been used as a cover for slavery or Jim Crow)? For instance, Rand's quote also speaks glowingly about "free trade," but I don't know that most people I'd consider nationalist (historically or currently) are generally proponents of free trade. If Donald Trump is meant to represent "nationalism," say, then at least his brand seems to me to be more protectionist. And in those situations where there exists some group, like the Quebec separatists, are we meant to be in favor of their nationalist ends? And what of their violent means to achieve them? I mean, even granting for the sake of discussion that there's some sense to the idea that speaking a separate language, or having a different cultural or ethnic identity, implies something about desirable political organization (otherwise highly questionable, imo), it's yet unclear what people are supposed to do about that, in reality. In the United States today, there are some who believe that white people and black people cannot fundamentally coexist under the same government -- are they supposed to have a point? Should they be regarded as separate "nations," and drive towards separate states? At what point are we simply rationalizing tribalism?
  14. Akilah, there's a lot you've said that's perhaps worth discussing here -- many issues that have been raised, or at least touched upon -- but I'd like initially to consider the above. Leaving out the asides and preamble, we have "to the extent that one knows a certain action or blemish is in opposition to his beauty and continues to pursue that action constitutes overt evasion." But in your preamble, you've observed that morality is contextual; and in an aside, depending on a "complex process of assessing all of one's objective values in their respective hierarchy." So is it not possible that different people place different weight on issues concerning their "beauty" (i.e. that beauty is a greater value to some, a lesser value to others) -- in reason? The thread generally tries to link such "beauty" to "health," which I would grant is often a fairly important value for rational people (though even this is not context-free; not "universal"), but when we also mean to include such things as an "ugly nose," I'm not certain we're truly discussing "health" any longer. May I ask? Why do you believe that Yaron Brook, for instance (as his is one of the names you've mentioned, I believe) is unconcerned with health and beauty? If you're referring to his appearance, what specifically is it about his appearance that leads you to your conclusion about his underlying values, or his rationality?
  15. I'm sure there's a connection between health and human beauty. That being said, do you believe that we can tell a person's health (or their concern for their own health) from the way they appear, or their beauty? And do you believe that health is the only source of human beauty?
  16. Thank you for your patience, DA (nouveau). I can't promise that my reply will reward that patience, exactly, but I will do what I can... *** I don't plan on being in a foxhole anytime soon, but if I ever were, I can guarantee that there would be (at least) one atheist in a foxhole. I would otherwise avoid the transporter room just like I do the foxhole, and for largely the same reasons. And while I respect Dr. McCoy for all sorts of reasons, I think his instinct on this subject was better than his considered decision. This is adjacent to my claim, but does not meet it head on. Forget "transportation" for a moment, but regard it as "simple" cloning. If we could simply make a copy of a person (which is also the most part of what "transportation" is, imo) -- James Kirk, to use my initial example -- then we would have two beings each claiming to be James Kirk. This would not "violate reality" (nothing can) and A would still be A. I would not doubt either Kirk's "claim to identity," as such, and each would have good reason for believing himself to be Kirk (or, in this case, "a Kirk"). Yet these would be two separate beings, in fact, A and B. And speaking more directly to the central matter, they would each have a separate consciousness, a separate experience of reality -- which is to say, a distinct FPE (unless we subscribe to the "hive mind" or "parallel processing" hypothesis, which at present, I do not). And if you were to then disintegrate one of those two Kirks (the other main feature of "transportation" technology), I'd say that you have killed him. I agree with your sentiment to a great extent, here, but I would not advocate literal suicide as a means of overcoming one's fear of death. I agree with you about the intent of the design. And if we wish to allow it some magical or fantastical property, to suit some fictional purpose, then so be it -- it can simply transport by fiat. But if the mechanism purports to disassemble a person and then reassemble (or as I would argue is more strictly true, "assemble") a person at a distance, then I do have questions about the nature of the result, whether we call it "transportation" or something else. I don't doubt that the person who steps off of the transporter has a first person experience; but I question whether it is the exact same first person experience as that of the person who'd initially entered the transporter. I think these questions can be raised in a manner not only consistent with what we're shown as a matter of course in Star Trek, but also with the curious matter I've raised before of Thomas Riker. Whether the transporter was designed "to kill people in order to create clones in some other place" or not, I take this as evidence that it does this very thing, apart from the arguments I have made more generally. I agree with you. And to the extent that we might be given to disagree, it doesn't much matter to me. Same apple? Different apple? Who cares. The apple (so far as I am aware) is not conscious and will not complain, and wouldn't have grounds for complaint if it could. But it is part and parcel to my argument that humanity (or conscious creatures) is uniquely endangered by this sort of process on account of our first person experience. Or if we are not so endangered -- if we may be disassembled on some molecular level, later reassembled, and survive it (meaning: with the very same FPE intact) -- then I suspect we have some... intriguing and even more difficult questions before us, as to the nature of the FPE (or at that point, I think we may as well call it a soul). Well, it's interesting. That DA would not say "you killed me," but "you killed him." And I believe he would be right (insofar as that DA would exist, but the guy you're talking to right now would not). Could it be proven in a court of law? Not unless they subscribed to my views on the matter; it could not be proven through third person test or analysis, at least, because what we are talking about is nothing more and nothing less than first person experience itself. I like questions plenty. I like answers, too, and I often like them together (when I can get 'em). They're like pb&j. I agree that the transported individual, post-transportation, may have credible memories of a continuous FPE extending from before the transportation; but this is not sufficient to establish that the person who entered the transporter has survived the process. I've always regarded "Trekker" as a concession that there was something wrong with "Trekkie" -- a concession I'm unwilling to make. What's your take on it? The person who emerges from the transporter is unquestionably alive and unquestionably himself, not dead in any sense. But should he look to beam back to the ship... it may be a different story. That's what I suspect, as well. You're welcome!
  17. This thread is not meant to be about the feasibility of constructing a transporter, or whether it would rely on quantum mechanics, or whether quantum mechanics is sound science; if your conclusion is that transporter technology is inherently impossible, though I disagree, that doesn't make "the whole discussion moot," because the discussion is not meant to produce a transporter, or to assess the likelihood of doing so -- it is meant to explore underlying philosophical issues. (Or, at least, that is my interest in it. In a similar way, perhaps, I trust that Rand did not raise the issue of an immortal robot because she thought that one day there would exist an immortal robot, or was interested in whether quantum theory or Newtonian mechanics or something else were likelier to produce such an outcome. She raised the robot, I believe, so that she could explore "life" and its relationship to moral reasoning.) Those underlying issues I mean to explore here -- and specifically what we've been calling the "first-person experience," and its metaphysics -- can be explored from more than one angle. Eiuol raised the idea of a prosthetic hippocampus, for instance, which I think might also be a rewarding avenue of exploration. Now, I'm as expert in biotechnology and neuroscience as I am in quantum physics (which is to say, not at all), and maybe you have some expertise in that field and some better idea than I as to whether or not such a thing is feasible based on current science -- but again, it isn't the point. I'm not trying to dissuade you from discussing your thoughts about the science, though I consider them tangential, or even quantum mechanics to an extent (though I think that mostly belongs in another thread; no one here, so far as I can tell, is arguing against QM), but I do think you're wrong to suggest that the discussion is moot because you disagree with the science of my approach to designing a transporter as seen on Star Trek (though other than attempting to deal with the transporter as presented there, I don't think I've offered any opinion as to the nature of the science of designing such a thing in reality; nor have I said that QM would play no role in it; I am optimistic that we can one day design a transporter and that is all -- and if QM is the science that will allow for such a thing, so be it). I don't know with precision what "information" means in this sense, nor what a "mind linkage" would consist of, especially if no "information" was shared between those minds. If they do not share information, generally speaking, then in what sense are they linked? (And conversely, isn't any "link" sensibly called that because information is shared?) And if we allow this linkage to happen for a "split-second," then are we violating this dictum against FTL you've invoked for the duration of that split-second? It is still unclear to me what this means for the first-person experience, or how it gets around the problems we've raised, generally. I don't know why the copy you've created through quantum means wouldn't have its own first-person experience. If I have it correctly, the process you've described argues that you 1) create a copy at a distance, then 2) destroy the original. You say that the FPE would "transfer" between the two, albeit no "information" would. I don't understand the meaning of that, or how the FPE is meant to transfer, or what that would mean in reality, but I believe it describes your claim. It is also, perhaps, a touch interesting in that I believe that this represents something of a departure from what you had described earlier (though please correct me if I'm mistaken): Perhaps you are not comfortable with my term of "hive mind" to describe this scenario (though I yet consider it apt -- and yes, Eiuol, I have read your post about "parallel processing" ), but I don't know how this comports with your current description: how there is no transfer of "information," how it takes place in a "split-second," etc. The key behind this original presentation was that "you would now be able to experience life on earth and life on the moon simultaneously in one consciousness." That's key to this discussion, because it speaks to the idea that FPE might in some real sense be shared beyond one's own body -- and suggesting such a possibility implicitly speaks to the metaphysics we ascribe to the FPE. So hopefully you see that I'm not trying to question whether quantum mechanics allows for a real possibility of transportation technology -- I don't honestly care whether it does or not -- but I am interested in this treatment of the FPE, and how that works. You write (across two posts): So this does seem markedly different to me than the conscious being you'd described who experiences life on the moon and Earth simultaneously with time enough to come to terms with its rather strange disposition ("eventually"). It is a bit of surmise on my part, perhaps, but I suspect that you may have altered this scenario in order to accommodate restrictions against information traveling faster than light (do I have that right? I may easily be mistaking here). Taking then this second presentation on its face, I wonder... could we forego from destroying the original? And if we did, what would this mean for the consciousness/FPE of these two (I would argue) separate individuals, if they are thereafter unable to share information?
  18. Perhaps I will try to address your posts more substantively in the future, but for now and without much time available to me, let me suggest: you seem to be looking at this from the point of view of the person who emerges from the transporter. I would ask you to consider, instead, the point of view of the person who enters the transporter.
  19. I respect the fact that you consider yourself confident of this, but I'm not going to bet that this technology "will never exist." Perhaps modern science is correct in assigning itself certain limits, ruling things out, but then it's my understanding* that the observations that have led to quantum mechanics itself would have been ruled out as scientifically impossible, once upon a not-so-distant time. (* "My understanding" of these things is admittedly limited; my degree was in history, not physics.) As I've said, our modern science, fantastic though it is, has all occurred within a very small slice of time, relatively speaking. If humanity survives long enough to add another thousand or ten of scientific progress, I would be loathe to bet that there is some manipulation of matter that we will always be unable to accomplish. Or maybe I'm wrong about this. Can we "square the circle"? No; there are admittedly some "hard" rule-outs like that. But can we disassemble something and put it back together on a very low/fundamental level? That sounds like exactly the sort of thing that man will eventually be able to accomplish, given sufficient time and interest. Beyond that, I don't know how competent I am, in 2018, of predicting the technology of 12,018 or 120,180 AD. Again: if we were to wager -- if there was any way in which I could hope to collect -- I would bet that the technology of 120,180 (or 1,201,800) will appear as to violate several things we currently call "scientific law." Regardless, it's a bit of a tangent as to whether or not this technology will ever exist, as such, let alone on a "quantum" level. In a manner that directly pertains to the central topic, I don't know that we've satisfied the question as to what's required to either preserve one's current FPE -- or what would be required for those who assert that a given FPE could be reawakened, or resurrected, in some newly minted body, or even in an "artificial" simulacrum, like an android or avatar. It has been observed that any given man's quantum state, and atomic or molecular composition, changes from moment to moment (let alone over the course of years). So is there one particular arrangement that is required for "transportation," or is there a range, or..? What is required for the continuity (or transportation/transference, if possible) of FPE? In a recent post, SL raised a number of thought-provoking questions; and Eiuol also raised what I consider an interesting matter with his supposition of a "prosthetic hippocampus." We may imagine a man's brain being replaced in this manner, one part at a time, and what I regard a relatively uninteresting/Scholastic question of "sameness," with respect to the Ship of Theseus, becomes something much more compelling, imo, when we think about the FPE. What's the special sauce? What's the thing we replace, or make "artificial," in ourselves, that is a step too far -- and causes our FPE to extinguish (if anything? or is our consciousness/FPE infinitely malleable in this respect? akin to the wave-pattern that SL described, insensitive to the material composition of the wave itself)? And could we ever detect or recognize such an event? I'm more questions than answers at this point, I'm afraid.
  20. I understand. These matters are not straightforward or easy. Agreed. True. I believe that the changes you describe -- though they are doubtless significant in many ways, and profound as you say -- are not the sort of change I'm considering when discussing the transporter. Yes, one's brain being different, one's mind being different, there is a "different FPE" between me and my self of 25 years ago. But it is also fundamentally the same FPE in that I am still the same entity that experienced those things then, that continues to live and experience today. It is a different order of difference to consider the difference between your FPE and mine -- in that we are two separate and distinct entities, not alone distinct on account of our differing content of mind, or our bodies being physically separate in space, but absolutely distinct in our hermetic and individual experience of reality. And I posit that the difference in the transported individual, with respect to FPE, is not the first difference of age, or before and after sleep, but the second more fundamental difference in entity. Yes, I believe that to be true. Given sufficient technology, I would not have the same concerns with cryogenics I have with transportation. Well, I don't know if it's a matter of question begging; I think that there's an argument to be made that death is exactly "that from which one may never be revived." Philosophically speaking, at least. Medically there may well be a definition of death that one may yet survive -- and it's my understanding that many people have been "technically" dead, yet revived. (Cf. Miracle Max.) But when Rand refers to death, writing for instance (in Atlas Shrugged), "Matter is indestructible, it changes its forms, but it cannot cease to exist. It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death," I think that she means "that from which one may never be revived." Apart from this, I don't know that there is anything about the cessation of the processes of life that is different from the cessation of any other process. I think our prowess has improved at least to the point where we can fix many systems that have undergone what used to be considered irreparable damage. But yes, I fully expect that our current science will seem primitive to future generations. Well, that's the question, right? I mean, what you've described above is exactly what Star Trek posits. But when we have disassembled a living being, I don't know how -- in principle/philosophically, I mean, not technologically -- we would reassemble that being such that we would restore, not just any old FPE, but the particular and unique FPE that existed prior to deconstruction. I do not doubt that one day we could map a physical system perfectly, to create a pattern; I do not doubt that we could disassemble a person into constituent elements; I do not doubt that we could assemble a person from constituent elements -- or that this person would be alive, conscious, and have an FPE. I believe all of these things are not just possible, but will happen eventually. But someday in the far future, given a Eiuol-pattern and given the requisite constituent elements and assembly technology, I do not believe that we could resurrect Eiuol -- meaning that very same entity who has participated in this thread, with the same FPE. It seems to me that to suggest that his particular FPE would somehow... manifest again, because there are molecules once more arranged in an Eiuol-pattern (though it might be a hundred years later, or a million), is as mystical-sounding as the proposed hive mind. And there, too, if we imagine that we create several Eiuols from our Eiuol-pattern (favoring no particular atoms over another; for one carbon atom is as good as another, it seems to me), I expect that we would have several distinct minds, distinct consciousnesses, distinct FPEs -- and which one of them would be Eioul Classic? If not all of them (i.e., the hive mind), then I think it must be none. I don't have answers to all of these questions, either. Speaking only for myself (which alone is a task that often outstrips my ability), it is indeed what I'm saying: that the individual who gets reconstructed is not the individual who got destroyed.
  21. You have sometimes bristled at my use of "emergence" over the years, but... I am not convinced that you understand what my view on emergence is. So when you say "emergent in the way you believe," I am unsure that we are on the same page, or even in the same book. Hopefully in discussing the matter directly, we can at least come to understand our respective positions, if not agree. For when you say "let's assume for discussion that FPE is emergent," yes we certainly can assume it for the sake of discussion. But I also don't see what other choice is available, whether inside or out of discussion. Unless we'd like to argue that molecules themselves have a first-person experience? (I suppose that there are people who believe this; you can find every sort of belief, somewhere.) So, if we're agreed that 1) molecules do not have an FPE and 2) people do, then it seems to me that we must fundamentally agree with respect to emergence: that the property of FPE (and associated) emerges on this "higher" level. All right. I always get a trifle nervous as the verbiage blossoms, but yes -- insofar as I follow this, I agree. Would it be an apt shorthand to say that, in the manner of all other natural phenomena (which is to say, all phenomena), emergence, too, has identity? Absolutely. When we speak of "affecting the emergent mind," I suppose there are two broad categories worth considering: there is the brain's ability to operate at all/generate or produce mind, or function generally; and then there are ways of affecting the mind (to greater and lesser extents) without destroying the ability to function. In a sense, every activity that an individual engages in (consciously or otherwise) manipulates (or impacts, at least) the identity of the brain and thus affects the mind. As is perhaps clear to you now, my concern isn't really about the state of the "transported brain" being sufficient to give rise to mind, or function generally (or however we prefer to label the relationship between brain and mind); I stipulate or grant that whatever is required to preserve or create the normal functioning of a brain, our "reassembly process" is sufficient to achieve this. My concern (expanded on below) is a touch more subtle. Well, as I'd said, I tried to put things in a form I thought you would appreciate. But don't get used to it. Well, it's interesting, you know? This is sort of a... meta-issue, I suppose, but while there's a part of me that agrees with you (for as I've said, I find the notion "unconvincing," which is an intentional understatement for comic effect), I'm also loathe to dismiss arguments out of hand -- especially in the context of a discussion like this, and when advanced by intelligent people. And then there's the fact that this subject matter in and of itself is a bit, well, on the fringe, I suppose. If someone were running afoul of "settled science," it would be easier for me to come to a quick and confident conclusion; but questions relating to consciousness, first-person experiences, and the like -- it's hard for me to assert myself as much of an authority. More specifically, while I would be quite comfortable dismissing the "supernatural" out of hand, I don't know if I could as quickly dismiss all ideas or claims that might fall under "parapsychology" (though I suppose it depends, in part, upon how we're defining that term). The "hive mind" certainly strikes me as mystical, but I don't want to commit to that conclusion without investigating it first. Well, deconstruction is part of the process of teleportation -- both in Star Trek and as has been framed throughout this conversation. As brain is deconstructed (along with all of the rest of one's body), surely both mind and FPE are extinguished alongside it. I think this is uncontroversial. There is, then, the second aspect of teleportation which is "reconstruction." That's where the rubber of my critique meets the road. Not quite. Everything is, of necessity, deconstructed when someone initiates the transportation process -- for it is a deconstruction of all material into constituent elements. However robust we might imagine the emergence of mind to be, I don't think it can persist when the brain itself is dissolved into molecules or atoms (or further). That is precisely the question. I take it for granted that an FPE can "re-emerge" from a reconstructed or reconstituted person -- someone on the far end of transportation. But is this a true "re-emergence," meaning of the same FPE, the same perspective? Or is this, as I suspect, the first emergence of a novel FPE? I believe that this should be not fundamentally different from sleeping. (Which means, to clarify, that I believe that the FPE remains the same; I am the same entity on either side of a nap, coma or cryogenics.) Have I suggested or done anything to convey the contrary impression? Well, the fundamental point is that the FPE is real. There is metaphysical reality here. Suppose that I'm wrong about cryogenics (which I don't think I am -- I never do -- but it has happened from time to time). If I agreed to some sort of cryogenic procedure (a la William "Buck" Rogers, Trek's kissing cousin) and I was wrong about my FPE remaining my own thereafter, the result (from my perspective, if no one else's in the universe) would be: that I would be dead. That matters (again: to me, if no one else). "Transportation" which is a deconstruction and a "reconstruction" is a different process. If we imagine a person deconstructed -- which means, again, being broken down into the smallest bits of matter, however those are conceived -- well, isn't that death? Now we may imagine an interval of time, so small as to be nearly nothing, perhaps, but it could also be as large as you'd like. Then we imagine "reconstructing" that person. We are building a brain, building a body, according to a pattern. A mind emerges, and that mind/brain/body/person will experience himself -- which is to say, he will have a first person experience. But how do we suppose it will be the same person, the same FPE, as that of the first person who was deconstructed, i.e. died? Well, of course. Easily forgiven. As I'd said, I'm no stranger to the frustration of discussion/argument/debate, and I often struggle with dealing with it appropriately. I understand the difficulty and sympathize. Why wouldn't I? I mean, I get it. This board sometimes struggles with fostering earnest, good-faith discussion. There is too little civility, perhaps, and too little of the foundational respect that is necessary for productive conversation. This is why the people who truly care must work harder to try to lift ourselves up, even though it is difficult, in order to demonstrate what reasoned conversation ought to look like. We may not always agree about certain issues, but hopefully we can work in the first place to be able to discuss even our disagreements in reason and a kind of fellowship.
  22. It's a tangent, perhaps, but I don't know. Speaking very broadly, of course, very generally, and probably without the level of knowledge of physics you have, it seems to me that science has made some incredible strides. And what's the timeframe we're talking about? Science, such as we would recognize it, has been around for... 2500 years or so (minus a Dark Age or two)? On this basis we should conclude that matter transport as shown in something like Star Trek is impossible? Eh, maybe; perhaps there exist some true limits on what we can achieve, whether we have accurately identified them or not. But in my own lifetime (which is not itself all that great a span), I've seen some amazing advances. I can't imagine what another hundred years of science might produce, let alone another 2500 years, or hell, a million. Actually, if I was a betting man (and if I could live long enough to collect), I'd bet that manipulation of matter such as would allow for a Star Trek style replicator or transporter is on its way. We certainly seem to want it.
  23. At this point, SL, I consider my argument to stand revealed across the several posts I have written to make it. Yet I will endeavor here to put things into a form I am hopeful you will better appreciate: 1) If we presume that an object consists of some material in a given pattern, it should be possible to disassemble that object and reassemble it, and still have the same object. This is the foundation of transportation theory and I have no objection to it. 1a) The example I've given is a bed: Imagine I'm moving across town. I disassemble my IKEA bed at house one, pack it in the truck, and reassemble my IKEA bed at house two. Do I have the "same bed"? Of course I do. 1b) The physical changes which take place in the bed (as everything changes, over time) do not matter to this conversation; they are as metaphysically significant as waking from a nap (i.e. the person who wakes from a nap is the same person who went to sleep). This is key to understanding how this conversation is, itself, fundamentally different from the "ship of Theseus" it is sometimes confused with, or the kinds of criticisms attributed to Heraclitus. 1c) Though disassembly and reassembly of the bed is probably imagined initially as taking place on a traditionally "high" level (frame, box spring, mattress, backboard, etc.), I see no reason why it could not also be performed at a "lower" level -- given transporter technology (or similar), disassembly into smaller "pieces" or constituent elements and then reassembly. I do not take this as changing anything already agreed to. 1d) We can imagine using such constituent elements to construct several beds according to the same pattern. Are they all the "same" bed? No. They are all beds constructed from the same pattern; but every bed constructed in this fashion is unique, separate and distinct, whatever its origin. Locality and particularity (being comprised of one set of constituent elements versus another) are sufficient to be distinct existents; and IKEA beds made from the same model -- as already exist in their showrooms -- are all each themselves. 1e) I presume that there is nothing particular about one carbon atom versus another, with respect to the creation of a bed -- or anything else. Though every carbon atom has identity, they are interchangeable for the purpose of making or reassembling a bed. And there are interesting "ship of Theseus" style questions that could be raised, accordingly, but they are -- again -- not to the purpose of my argument. In the end, I do not care whether we regard a transported bed as "the same" as the bed it was, pre-transportation; it is enough for a bed that I can sleep on it. 2) There are ways in which human beings and beds are alike. A human being, too, consists of some material in a given pattern. If a bed can be disassembled and reassembled in some fashion, this should theoretically be possible with respect to a human as well. This is the foundation of how transporters are typically portrayed in Star Trek, and I have no objection to it. If a bed can be "beamed" from one site to another, I don't see why a person cannot be, as well. 2a) All of the features we associate with human beings are, in this sense, transportable; the "mind" or "consciousness," being what a brain does, or "emerging" from matter, or what-have-you, will accompany the physical stuff -- the material -- that is transported. 2b) Just as with the IKEA bed, there is nothing particular about one carbon atom versus another in the creation or recreation of a person. Though I have some set of carbon atoms in my body currently, these change over time and yet I remain myself; I could have a different set of carbon atoms and still be me. 2c) We may thus imagine the creation of several people according to a single pattern -- many Eiuol (or Eiuols) from an Eiuol-pattern. 2d) In the manner of the beds, would these Eiuols (or Eiuol) all be the "same"? No; they would be distinct entities with distinct identities. 3) There is a fundamental, metaphysical difference between a human being and a bed. Though everything that a human being is -- even that which we sometimes consider to be "immaterial" -- is material, or is emergent from material, or is "what material does," or etc., it is unique to a human being (or at least, perhaps, to conscious entities) to have a "first-person experience." Consciousness is different from other material phenomena in that it is experienced uniquely -- a conscious entity has a particular perspective. 3a) A transported human being will have a first-person experience, in the same manner as having mind, having consciousness. 3b) However, I argue that the multiple Eiuol/Eiuols would have distinct first-person experiences (just as they are distinct entities, or "individuals"). 3c) Thus, imagining three such Eiuols/Eiuol -- Eiuol-Alpha, Eiuol-Beta and Eiuol-Gamma -- should Eiuol-Beta be run over by a car, and killed, he is dead. He is not "still alive" for the sake of the existence of Eioul-Alpha or Eiuol-Gamma. 3d) If more Eiuol(s) were produced past that point, (Eiuol-Delta and so forth), Eioul-Beta would still be dead. Each of the new Eiuol-oi would have a different perspective; a different first-person experience. 3e) The first-person experience, the fact of perspective, does not "attach" to a given set of elements in a particular pattern. Because it is the fact of perspective, it cannot be replicated. By virtue of being different existents, multiple Eiuol-en would have different perspectives, different experiences of themselves and the world. They would be wholly different beings. 4) Thus, if we imagine a human being deconstructed and then reconstructed by a transporter, I see no reason why the very same perspective/first-person experiences that extinguishes upon deconstruction (i.e. "dies") should come back into being upon reconstruction. Rather, though there would be a perspective of necessity, a first-person experience, I would expect it to be as Eiuol-Beta to Eiuol-Alpha: a distinct entity; a person of the same material, and in the same pattern, but with a different perspective, a different awareness, a different experience of the universe. 4a) This is to say that when Eiuol-Alpha steps into a transporter, Eiuol-Beta (i.e. a being of the same material in the same pattern, but a different perspective, a different first-person experience) emerges. This is to say that when Eiuol-Alpha steps into a transporter, he dies. 4b) For the sake of better understanding this, we normally imagine transportation as proceeding from deconstruction to reconstruction. But we can imagine reversing this order: first building our new Eiuol (material in a pattern). At that point, when we have two Eiuol, Alpha and Beta, we understand that we have two distinct people. And then, when we "deconstruct" Eiuol-Alpha, we understand that we have not "transported" him (which is to say, that fundamental uniqueness of perspective, that first-person experience); we have instead killed him. 4c) And thus, Eiuol should not agree to be transported. ************** Eiuol and EC have both proposed (albeit with different criteria) that several individuals could share a consciousness, as a sort of "hive mind." I expect that we would thus diverge at around 2d -- that they would hold the Eiuol-tricies not as distinct entities, but vestiges of a single entity, as my left and right arm are to me. I have not yet fully assessed that argument, but on first blush I find it... unconvincing. I'll try to respond to your comments on emergence soon. And for the record, the plural of "DonAthos" is "DonsAthos."
  24. LOL, well... I won't contend that your solution "violates the law of identity," per se (though I imagine that SL, Plasmatic, et al., would gladly do), but "weird"? Is a bit of an understatement. You can grant me that much, at least, yes? Indeed I am. So... I'm trying to get a grasp on this. I know that EC suggested something similar, earlier, but (at the risk of confusing our sci-fi universes) I do not quite grok it. You're saying that several physically distinct entities, multiple Eiuols (or is the plural simply "Eiuol"), would share the same consciousness? On the basis of having the same physical components in the same pattern? I'll admit that I find that very difficult to imagine, much less to believe. You're positing a... hive mind, then? And if you were recreated in other fashions (like online, as we'd alluded to before), you would share a single consciousness between physical and virtual incarnations? And if you died today, but five thousand years from now, material was assembled into your particular configuration, you believe that you, yourself -- which is to say, your consciousness, your particular FPE -- would spring back into existence accordingly, as though you had just woken up from a nap? That is... hard for me to credit. (But I suppose it might allay some of Boydstun's fears about inevitable nuclear war; to our scattered bodies, go!) You have read my intentions exactly. And I will admit that I would initially suspect two people (for instance, Eiuol-Alpha, you; and Eiuol-Beta, the one I create in the garage) to be distinct persons; I find that easier to believe, at least, than the hive mind hypothesis. It seems to agree with my experience. It also appears to comport with Star Trek's treatment of a similar case with Will Riker and his one-time transporter duplicate, Thomas. Given Thomas Riker's existence (and divergence from Will Riker), at the very least, I think my case is made that use of the transporter (as shown on Star Trek) is fatal -- is it not? But in real life, I suppose we would still need to sort out this claim to a hive mind? Tell me, given that identical twins initially split from a common source, do they tell us anything about the subject? Granted, the separation is as early as can be, and there is no brain at that point (and therefore no mind), and yet... I don't know, Eiuol, would you give any credence to claims that identical twins have some sort of innate sense of one another? At the moment, your solution seems to me to verge on the mystical, but that's as far as I'm willing to go, for now. (How nice it would be to be wrong about this; I would love to believe that, at some indeterminate point past my "death," I might suddenly be summoned back to existence. Although, if it would make possible certain conceptions of heaven, then I suppose it might equally allow for hell.)
  25. I don't often run into mentions of This Perfect Day, but it is a neat book!
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