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One Self: The Logic of Experience

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One Self: The Logic of Experience

Abstract

Imagine that you and a duplicate of yourself are lying unconscious, next to each other, about to undergo a complete step-by-step exchange of bits of your bodies. It certainly seems that at no stage in this exchange of bits will you have thereby switched places with your duplicate. Yet it also seems that the end-result, with all the bits exchanged, will be essentially that of the two of you having switched places. Where will you awaken? I claim that one and the same person possesses both bodies, occupies both places and will experience both awakenings, just as a person whose brain has been bisected must at once experience both of the unconnected fields of awareness, even though each of these will falsely appear to him as the entirety of his experience. I also claim that the more usual apparent boundaries of persons are as illusory as those in brain bisection; personal identity remains unchanged through any variation or multiplication of body or mind. In all conscious life there is only one person - I - whose existence depends merely on the presence of a quality that is inherent in all experience - its quality of being mine, the simple immediacy of it for whatever is having experience. One powerful argument for this is statistical: on the ordinary view of personhood it is an incredible coincidence for you (though not for others) that out of 200,000,000 sperm cells the very one required on each occasion for your future existence was first to the egg in each of the begettings of yourself and all your ancestors. The only view that does not make your existence incredible, and that is not therefore (from your perspective) an incredible view, is that any conscious being would necessarily have been you anyway. It is a consequence that self-interest should extend to all conscious organisms.

Supplementary resource (1)

... He then proceeds, in thought experiment, to slice up the brain, trade brain sections with other people, sever connections between hemispheres, and so forth, to arrive at various conclusions (such as the "fission" or "fusion" of identities) that are at odds with transtemporal identity. Zuboff [6] also starts with replication of a brain that "is a precise duplicate of yours in every discriminable respect..." and concludes that so-called fission -in which "one subject can, in a single next moment, experience two differing non-integrated contents of experience" -is the necessary outcome. These "brain-in-a-vat" style thought experiments have dominated philosophical theories of mind and identity, not to mention science fiction, for decades, and represent the best prima facie arguments against transtemporal identity. ...
... Further, while the following arguments apply to a physical state of any size, they are more interesting and elucidating when applied to a small or minimal physical state S 1 that produces conscious state C 1 (although state S 1 need not be the absolute minimum or smallest state that produces the person's consciousness). For instance, if it turns out that the human brain 6 is sufficient to create a person's consciousness, then certainly that brain 6 Specifying physical state S 1 as "the human brain" is quite sloppy, as we really need to specify the features (e.g., relationships among cells, molecules, electrons, etc.) that define state S 1 and give rise to conscious state C 1 . If, for example, state S 1 depends only on how cells act like digital switches, then S 1 can be specified and instantiated in the form of a digital computer. ...
... Zuboff explains[6]: "This experience [across brains] of being you, here, now, would be numerically the same whenever, as well as wherever, it was realized." ...
Article
The possibility that consciousness is algorithmic depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner’s Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge this assumption by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of physical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions due, for example, to quantum fluctuations. I show that the conjunction of three assumptions leads to a logical contradiction: first, that a conscious state supervenes on some sufficient underlying physical state such that instantiation of that physical state is sufficient to create that conscious state; second, that conscious states are associated with transtemporal identity; and third, that two or more physical copies of a conscious state can be instantiated nonlocally in spacetime. I then show that transtemporal identity is logically incompatible with the copiability of conscious states and offer several arguments in favor of transtemporal identity and against copiability of conscious states. Several explanatory hypotheses and implications are addressed, particularly the relationships between consciousness, locality, physical irreversibility, and quantum no-cloning.
... He then proceeds, in thought experiment, to slice up the brain, trade brain sections with other people, sever connections between hemispheres, and so forth, to arrive at various conclusions (such as the "fission" or "fusion" of identities) that are at odds with transtemporal identity. Zuboff [6] also starts with replication of a brain that "is a precise duplicate of yours in every discriminable respect..." and concludes that so-called fission -in which "one subject can, in a single next moment, experience two differing non-integrated contents of experience" -is the necessary outcome. These "brain-in-a-vat" style thought experiments have dominated philosophical theories of mind and identity, not to mention science fiction, for decades, and represent the best prima facie arguments against transtemporal identity. ...
... Further, while the following arguments apply to a physical state of any size, they are more interesting and elucidating when applied to a small or minimal physical state S 1 that produces conscious state C 1 (although state S 1 need not be the absolute minimum or smallest state that produces the person's consciousness). For instance, if it turns out that the human brain 6 is sufficient to create a person's consciousness, then certainly that brain 6 Specifying physical state S 1 as "the human brain" is quite sloppy, as we really need to specify the features (e.g., relationships among cells, molecules, electrons, etc.) that define state S 1 and give rise to conscious state C 1 . If, for example, state S 1 depends only on how cells act like digital switches, then S 1 can be specified and instantiated in the form of a digital computer. ...
... Zuboff explains[6]: "This experience [across brains] of being you, here, now, would be numerically the same whenever, as well as wherever, it was realized." ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The possibility of algorithmic consciousness depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes, including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner's Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge these assumptions by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of identical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions due to quantum fluctuations. By assuming the supervenience of a conscious state on some sufficient underlying physical state, I show that the existence of two or more instances, whether spacelike or timelike, of the same conscious state leads to a logical contradiction, ultimately refuting the assumption that a conscious state can be physically reset to an earlier state or duplicated by any physical means. Several explanatory hypotheses and implications are addressed, particularly the relationships between consciousness, locality, physical irreversibility, and quantum no-cloning.
... We further explore why a novel probability theory would be required, along the lines of the principle of indifference [1] and the sleeping beauty problem [2][3][4]. ...
... The question could be raised -why is a new probability theory necessary? The discussions around the principle of indifference [1] and the Sleeping Beauty Problem [2][3][4] addressed this question -indeed, the quantum probability theory is necessary. The question of deriving the quantum probability theory was relegated to quantum reconstruction projects, which derive quantum mechanics from epistemic requirements [10][11][12]. ...
Article
It is often assumed that the complete physics theory of the universe is computable - in sense that it can provide meaningful theoretical predictions for every phenomenon of the universe. Against this view, it is argued that once quantum mechanics is understood as encompassing a novel concept of probability, thereby resolving the measurement problem in straightforward ways, the interpretation speaks for uncomputability of the complete physics theory. The reasons why a new theory of probability is needed are explored, along the lines of the principle of indifference and the sleeping beauty problem.
... This is the position ofKolak (2004), which he calls 'open individualism';Zuboff (1990), under the name of 'universalism'; and also, apparently, that of Advaita Vedāntaamong others. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The starting point of the present work is the intuition that it is conceivable that I was a different person than the one that I am, i.e. that it is conceivable that “I” would have existed even if the person that I am had not, and vice-versa. The implication of this intuition as regards the nature of ourselves (of the “I”), the possible relation between subjects of experience and persons, and the problem of personal identity are explored. The first chapter illustrates and explicates the basic intuition in more detail. The second chapter offers an analysis of experience, a closer look at its content and the ways brain states can relate to experience. The third chapter aims to elucidate that in virtue of which a person is (or could be) me, that is, the “mineness” of experience. Utilizing the concepts from the previous chapters, chapters four and five give further depth to the key question of this work ‒ i.e. why am I the person that I am? Whereas the earlier chapters seek to explain how to understand this question so that it is not trivial, to cast light on the concepts behind the words, the two penultimate chapters identify the assumptions we have about ourselves, i.e. the common assumptions about which people one actually is (which experiences are mine), and why, point out some of their problematic implications, and sketch a few alternative solutions. The final chapter tackles the problem of personal identity, starting from the understanding that subjectivity, i.e. the mineness of experience, is crucial to what we are. keywords: subject of experience, mineness of experience, primary self-consciousness, pre-reflective self-awareness, person, personal identity.
... However, in our opinion, this argument ignores the fact that not all properties are identically the same: position of the system in time and space is different for original and the copy. There are also attempts to advocate this position based on broader ontological presumptions and leading to more radical conclusions [57]. However, it is easy to identify many conceptual problems with such conjecture which, at least, make it incompatible with the NP. ...
Preprint
The "measurement problem" of quantum mechanics, and the "hard problem" of cognitive science are the most profound open problems of the two research fields, and certainly among the deepest of all unsettled conundrums in contemporary science in general. Occasionally, scientists from both fields have suggested some sort of interconnectedness of the two problems. Here we revisit the main motives behind such expectations and try to put them on more formal grounds. We argue not only that such a relation exists, but that it also bears strong implications both for the interpretations of quantum mechanics and for our understanding of consciousness. The paper consists of three parts. In the first part, we formulate a "no-go-theorem" stating that a brain, functioning solely on the principles of classical physics, cannot have any greater ability to induce subjective experience than a process of writing (printing) a certain sequence of digits. The goal is to show, with an attempt to mathematical rigor, why the physicalist standpoint based on classical physics is not likely to ever explain the phenomenon of consciousness -- justifying the tendency to look beyond the physics of the 19th century. In the second part, we aim to establish a clear relation, with a sort of correspondence mapping, between attitudes towards the hard problem and interpretations of quantum mechanics. Then we discuss these connections in the light of the no-go theorem, pointing out that the existence of subjective experience might differentiate between otherwise experimentally indistinguishable interpretations. Finally, the third part is an attempt to illustrate how quantum mechanics could take us closer to the solution of the hard problem and break the constraints set by the no-go theorem.
... However, in our opinion, this argument ignores the fact that not all properties are identically the same: position of the system in time and space is different for original and the copy. There are also attempts to advocate this position based on broader ontological presumptions and leading to more radical conclusions [57]. However, it is easy to identify many conceptual problems with such conjecture which, at least, make it incompatible with the NP. ...
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The "measurement problem" of quantum mechanics, and the "hard problem" of cognitive science are the most profound open problems of the two research fields, and certainly among the deepest of all unsettled conundrums in contemporary science in general. Occasionally, scientists from both fields have suggested some sort of interconnectedness of the two problems. Here we revisit the main motives behind such expectations and try to put them on more formal grounds. We argue not only that such a relation exists, but that it also bears strong implications both for the interpretations of quantum mechanics and for our understanding of consciousness. The paper consists of three parts. In the first part, we formulate a "no-go-theorem" stating that a brain, functioning solely on the principles of classical physics, cannot have any greater ability to induce subjective experience than a process of writing (printing) a certain sequence of digits. The goal is to show, with an attempt to mathematical rigor, why the physicalist standpoint based on classical physics is not likely to ever explain the phenomenon of consciousness - justifying the tendency to look beyond the physics of the 19th century. In the second part, we aim to establish a clear relation, with a sort of correspondence mapping, between attitudes towards the hard problem and interpretations of quantum mechanics. Then we discuss these connections in the light of the no-go theorem, pointing out that the existence of subjective experience might differentiate between otherwise experimentally indistinguishable interpretations. Finally, the third part is an attempt to illustrate how quantum mechanics could take us closer to the solution of the hard problem and break the constraints set by the no-go theorem.
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Cosmic Teleology', The Existence of God
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