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Consciousness and the "I"

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Our "I", i.e. what we are resides in our brain. Our consciousness is a property of our brain.

Since are brain is an arrangement of matter (It can't be anything else), consciousness either has to be an inanimate property of matter or a property of the way our brain is designed.

In either case, when and if we discover it (the way the brain operates), we will at some time have the potential of "replicating" an existing brain.

For e.g.

Let's assume that we have complete knowledge of how the brain operates and technology to replicate it. Let there be a brain A of which we know the complete structure.

We replicate (re-create) brain A in another, distinct living body. This would mean that there would be two brain As existing at the same time. Since everything we are is in our brain, it would mean that there would be

a. Two persons ditto same existing at the same time. However then where does our "I" come from. This cannot be a possibility.

b. One person at two places at the same time. Obviously not possible.

Since both these scenarious are not possible, we must be wrong somewhere in our initial assumption.

1) Either we can never know the structure of the brain or

2) We can never replicate a brain or in other words a person while the original person still exists no matter where we are or how advanced our technology.

1 is false. But 2 leads to another snag. It, IMO, supports the idea of "action at a distance" or non-locality as we can never replicate a structure made of matter (brain A, for e.g.) no matter where we are if the original structure (brain A) exists.

I a confused over this. Please help me.

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If I understand your question correctly, you're asking this:

Lets assume that at some point in the future man is able to produce a super computer that replicates all the neurophysiological properties and functions of a particular brain, say the brain of Mr. X. Lets call this super computer c-X.

Would c-X be "identical" to X? If I understand you correctly, would c-X and X have the same identity, would they perform all their future actions simultaneously, together at the same time?

Assuming that such a feat were ever possible, I don't think so. Why? Because of the fundamental nature of man's conceptional consciousness, namely volition, or free will.

c-X's consciousness would be volitional, so would X's. Both would have the capacity of free will, and both's actions would be non-deterministic.

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I think you've fundamentally missed the idea of "I". It doesn't matter if one person is identical to another...the whole point is that they are still two distinct persons. "I" doesn't come from one person's uniqueness-- It follows from the fact that they independently exist and are conscious of it. Similarity to others simply doesn't enter into it.

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Yea, there will always been subtle differences in each entity.

Lemme give you an example of how this would work.

Person A1 has certain traits.

Person A2 has certains as well.

Both have same memory but if A1 and A2 have different make-ups. Say, A2 is some how a robot but has a humanoid chasse or whatever. But A2 doesn't know it from the start but discovers this as A2 continues to act as if it's A1[say a human or animal]. Eventually A2 would begin to have different behaviors due to different faculties.

As for human to human cloning with some miraculous memory transfer and etc, I really don't see how you can ensure that two entities, both being exactly the same will continue to be the same forever. Being that they cannot occupy the same spacetime, they're left with different events to react and eventually will develop different memories to those different events.

But that's just my two cents.

-- Bridget

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If I understand your question correctly, you're asking this:

Lets assume that at some point in the future man is able to produce a super computer that replicates all the neurophysiological properties and functions of a particular brain, say the brain of Mr. X.  Lets call this super computer c-X.

Would c-X be "identical" to X?  If I understand you correctly, would c-X and X have the same identity, would they perform all their future actions simultaneously, together at the same time?

Assuming that such a feat were ever possible, I don't think so.  Why?  Because of the fundamental nature of man's conceptional consciousness, namely volition, or free will.

c-X's consciousness would be volitional, so would X's.  Both would have the capacity of free will, and both's actions would be non-deterministic.

free will - the ability to take a voluntary decision.

volition - the ability to initiate a decision, action or thought.

Would c-X' and X's consciousness be volitional? yes.

My point is that whatever decision we make, whatever action we do, whatever thought we initiate has to be based on some fact.

Take two Wall Street investors. Both have equal and objective knowledge of the current state of the market. One decides to invest in Google, the other does not.

Clearly their analysis of the situation are different.

But why are the analysis different? Because their minds are different. If their minds were exactly the same, a ditto copy, even with free will and volition, their analysis of the market would be the same. Free will cannot magically make it different. Even free will cannot exist without our mind. All our decisions, thoughts and actions are based on our level of capacity for rational thought, on our intelligence.

And if both make the same decisions every time in the same situations, from where does their "I" come from. How would they be in any way different. Wouldn't they be exactly the same person?

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As for human to human cloning with some miraculous memory transfer and etc, I really don't see how you can ensure that two entities, both being exactly the same will continue to be the same forever. Being that they cannot occupy the same spacetime, they're left with different events to react and eventually will develop different memories to those different events.

But they would be the same for some amount of time.

Let me give you an example even though it may seem to touch the heights of absurdity.

Person A dies. An exact ditto replica of person A's mind and body is made and brought to life. Will the new being be person A or someone different?

The new being is in all ways like person A. Since his mind is the same as person A's, his level of intelligence, his capacity for rational thought, his decision making power are all same as person A. Isn't the new being person A himself as there is nothing to separate him from person A except different atoms?

Apply the same for person B who is living? Won't a replica of person B be person B himself as there is nothing to separate the replica from person B?

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free will - the ability to take a voluntary decision.

volition - the ability to initiate a decision, action or thought.

Would c-X' and X's consciousness be volitional? yes.

My point is that whatever decision we make, whatever action we do, whatever thought we initiate has to be based on some fact.

Take two Wall Street investors. Both have equal and objective knowledge of the current state of the market. One decides to invest in Google, the other does not.

Clearly their analysis of the situation are different.

But why are the analysis different? Because their minds are different. If their minds were exactly the same, a ditto copy, even with free will and volition, their analysis of the market would be the same. Free will cannot magically make it different. Even free will cannot exist without our mind. All our decisions, thoughts and actions are based on our level of capacity for rational thought, on our intelligence.

And if both make the same decisions every time in the same situations, from where does their "I" come from. How would they be in any way different. Wouldn't they be exactly the same person?

But why are the analysis different? Because their minds are different. If their minds were exactly the same, a ditto copy, even with free will and volition, their analysis of the market would be the same. Free will cannot magically make it different. Even free will cannot exist without our mind. All our decisions, thoughts and actions are based on our level of capacity for rational thought, on our intelligence.

Let's take an example from the science of genetics--identical twins. I mean here what is called "identical" twins--each newborn baby is a precise genetic copy of the other.

They have identical genetic material, their DNA is identical, everything biological--their sex, including their brain structure, etc., are identical. For the purposes of demonstration, lets assume that as they grow and develop, they are raised by the same parents in the same household, they attend the same schools, etc. This type of thing happens now, every day.

And yet these identical twins, whose brains are identical in material structure, as they grow older make different choices: one chooses to study music, the other chooses to study medicine; one chooses to marry, the other chooses to remain single; one likes to spend time with his father, the other prefers to spend more time with his mother, etc.

If they are both identical, then how can this be?

I think the problem lies with an implicit acceptance of the philosophical idea of determinism, the idea that all of man's choices are necessarily the product of antecedent events. In determinism, the concept of free-will is merely the product of material forces (genetic or otherwise) that necessarily determine what choices man makes.

In determinism, the idea of free will is voided of all its existential meaning. A determinist will always tell you: “you think you are free, but this is merely an illusion.”

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Let's take an example from the science of genetics--identical twins.  I mean here what is called "identical" twins--each newborn baby is a precise genetic copy of the other.

They have identical genetic material, their DNA is identical, everything biological--their sex, including their brain structure, etc., are identical. For the purposes of demonstration, lets assume that as they grow and develop, they are raised by the same parents in the same household, they attend the same schools, etc.  This type of thing happens now, every day.

And yet these identical twins, whose brains are identical in material structure, as they grow older make different choices:  one chooses to study music, the other chooses to study medicine; one chooses to marry, the other chooses to remain single; one likes to spend time with his father, the other prefers to spend more time with his mother, etc.

If they are both identical, then how can this be?

By identical I mean an exact copy down to the number of neurons they have.

If you think that the brains of twins are an exact copy of each other, can you provide the references?

I think the problem lies with an implicit acceptance of the philosophical idea of determinism, the idea that all of man's choices are necessarily the product of antecedent events. In determinism, the concept of free-will is merely the product of material forces (genetic or otherwise) that necessarily determine what choices man makes.

In determinism, the idea of free will is voided of all its existential meaning.  A determinist will always tell you: “you think you are free, but this is merely an illusion.”

First of all, I have no doubt that free will exists.

Secondly, I cannot see why two persons who are exactly the same would make different choices. Is free will or decision making arbitrary?

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By identical I mean an exact copy down to the number of neurons they have.
In your view, if not DNA, what determines "the number of neurons" an individual has?

Do you think it is the number of neurons that an individual has is what determines the choices he makes?

If you think that the brains of twins are an exact copy of each other, can you provide the references?

". . . the second type of twins develops from one single fertizilized ovum and is known as monozygotic or identical twins. They result from the splitting of the zygote at various stages of development." (_Medical Embryology_Jan Langman_1981_p. 98_)

"The two types of twins are clled (1) identical or monozygotic (MZ) and (2) fraternal or dizygotic (DZ). MZ twins derive from a single zygote--one egg fertilized by one sperm." (_Genetics: Human Aspects_Mange & Mange_1960_p. 531_)

"Identical (monozygotic) twins have essentially identical genetic material. . . ." (_Principles of Neural Science_2nd edition_Kandel & Schwartz_1985_p. 707_)

First of all, I have no doubt that free will exists.
Good.

Secondly, I cannot see why two persons who are exactly the same would make different choices.

What do you mean by this? Are you suggesting that the choices an individual makes is simply the product of the number of neurons he has? If so, then this is determinism, which is explicitly incompatable with free will.

Is free will or decision making arbitrary?

Who suggested that free will is arbitrary?

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Our "I", i.e. what we are resides in our brain. Our consciousness is a property of our brain.

Since are brain is an arrangement of matter (It can't be anything else), consciousness either has to be an inanimate property of matter or a property of the way our brain is designed.

In either case, when and if we discover it (the way the brain operates), we will at some time have the potential of "replicating" an existing brain.

For e.g.

Let's assume that we have complete knowledge of how the brain operates and technology to replicate it. Let there be a brain A of which we know the complete structure.

We replicate (re-create) brain A in another, distinct living body. This would mean that there would be two brain As existing at the same time. Since everything we are is in our brain, it would mean that there would be

a. Two persons ditto same existing at the same time. However then where does our "I" come from. This cannot be a possibility.

b. One person at two places at the same time. Obviously not possible.

Since both these scenarious are not possible, we must be wrong somewhere in our initial assumption.

1) Either we can never know the structure of the brain or

2) We can never replicate a brain or in other words a person while the original person still exists no matter where we are or how advanced our technology.

1 is false. But 2 leads to another snag. It, IMO, supports the idea of "action at a distance" or non-locality as we can never replicate a structure made of matter (brain A, for e.g.) no matter where we are if the original structure (brain A) exists.

I a confused over this. Please help me.

Well from the very instant they are conscious their minds will become different. Every thought we have changes who we are in some way. Now most likely, unless one of them goes through an experiance that would change his or her majorly(I.E. serious trauma, revalations, etc.), then they would be very similar but not alike. And you can meet people who are very similar already and it dosen't diminish each person at all.

To help illustrate this point, I would like to ask you if they did this to you before you discovered Rand's works, and that other you was kept away from anything dealing with Objectivism, would he be exactly like you are now?

The main thing is, the structure of a brian is not static. If it was we would never learn, never change our views and would be the same way we were when we were infants.

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To help illustrate this point, I would like to ask you if they did this to you before you discovered Rand's works, and that other you was kept away from anything dealing with Objectivism, would he be exactly like you are now?

The main thing is, the structure of a brian is not static.  If it was we would never learn, never change our views and would be the same way we were when we were infants.

This is interesting. I've never explicitly thought of it in this way before.

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  • 9 months later...
Person A dies. An exact ditto replica of person A's mind and body is made and brought to life. Will the new being be person A or someone different?

The new being is in all ways like person A. Since his mind is the same as person A's, his level of intelligence, his capacity for rational thought, his decision making power are all same as person A. Isn't the new being person A himself as there is nothing to separate him from person A except different atoms?

For you he will be that exact same person, but for person A, he will not be.

If someone makes a complete copy of you, you will still observe the world through your senses, wouldn't you? Not through both your AND your copy's senses... B)

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