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Questions about consciousness

  1. Nov 28, 2005 #1
    I'm sure this has already been discussed before, so feel free to provide a link to past discussions.

    What if a person is annihilated, and then an EXACT replica of him is created. Since it's exact, the new person should have the same memories as the old one. So would being annihilated and then recreated feel just like falling asleep and then waking up? I.e. is this was done to you, would the new person still be you? But then, what if two or more replicas of the original person were created instead of just one? Which of them would be the original person, and which of them would be his twin? I.e. in which body would the original person's consciousness be? Could it be in two places at one? This seems inconceivable, but that by itself doesn't mean that it's impossible. Maybe the original person's consciousness would ceasse to exist, and we would have two new people, neither one of which feels like he fell asleep and then woke up? Or is there some physical principle which prohibits such an experiment, even in theory, thus making the above questions meaningless?
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  3. Nov 28, 2005 #2


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    I think conciousness has a lot to do with continuity. If an exact replica is made of you, there is no reason why you would feel any different. For instance if right this minute there is another person with your exact same memories in another planet, you have no way of knowing so, and his death would not impact you in any way, would it?
  4. Nov 28, 2005 #3
    There's a big assumption being made here: how could one possibly replicate an invisible and formless consciousness? :uhh:
  5. Nov 28, 2005 #4
    Why must "consciousness" be defined as "formless" ? Suppose that consciousness is a quantum wavefunction, and thus has a form that can be mathematically demonstrated as a statistical probability. All I am saying here is that it is not clear to me that consciousness "must" be formless, especially if it is a stream of movement of electro-chemical impulses within neurons, one of many hypotheses.
  6. Nov 28, 2005 #5


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    I think the question refers to what would happen if a physical replica of your body was created somewhere and, simultaneously (in some sense), your original body was destroyed. This has been talked about here before, and one interesting aspect of this topic that I'll point out is that it is an entirely philosophical question that has a practical application, namely teleportation. It is possible that teleporters will work by scanning every atom in your body, sending the information to some distant location at nearly the speed of light, and then carrying out the destruction/recreation process, with the intended result of ultra-fast personal transportation. Whether anyone would actually get into one of these machines depends on how good a job the philosophers on the teleportation companies' payrolls do of convincing the public that their experience will be continuous and uninterrupted. Personally, I would never use such a device, and perhaps my grandchildren will make fun of me for this one day.
  7. Nov 28, 2005 #6
    think that it is interesting to examine how the life/mind of a cat or dog or any other organism differs from any other organism... and further, how two different human body/minds experience. what i am getting at here is that the structure of physicality, and the mind which permeates its structure, depends entirely on the physical structure. consciousness, surely is the same in whatever vessel it is channeled through, as consciousness, it appears is simply the pure awareness, upon which individual minds take "shape". is it that, do you think, the differences of mind are the result of differences in body structures, experienced as mind because of the consciousness that is being channeled through it. it may be more difficult to explain this than was originally thought, but can we say that the "mind" of the aomeba is as simple as it is because it is such a simple organism. perhaps the mind that we perceive ourselves as having is really the agglomeration of the consciousness present in all of the cells, neurons, proteins, dna, organisms, and such which constitute of our physicality. in other words, our mind is not contained in our brains, but seems to be most present there, as a result of the immensity and intensity of the processes that occur there. what we call mind may actually be the sum of all "sub-minds" of the constituent matter that composes this organism. through all of these "parts" permeates the awareness of consciousness, and this sensation that is considered "mind", is actually a whole lot of "individual" minds, all working as a unit because this human organism is composed as a whole. that same mind/consciousness must have evolved the organisms to work in cooperation as the basic motivation for self-sustanence, via a greater whole. the same way that humans develop societies, to afford them with greater means of survival... only that humans are a more complex expression of this motivation, and have thus created for themselves much conflict and confusion, in their attempt to unify as a coherent whole. the body also experiences similar problems, when some parts act "out-of-whack" with their proper purpose. this "disjointing", may, in fact, be the influence of the "combined-mind", which we call "human mind", affecting the functioning of its "constituents" through a form of fundamental confusion, dis-association, or ignorance. perhaps "mind" really is everywhere, but we identify with the most gross and intense/influential mind that constitutes an organism.

    i should say what is meant by "mind": mind being the responsive element of all physicality; a planet being attracted to another stellar object, could be assimilated to a human, being attracted to another human.

    in this sense, our mind is also the stellar bodies that experience the attraction of gravity, though our identification has become one of locality. we actually are those stellar objects, but their influence, on our local identification of self, is just too subtle for us to register their influence as coming from them. perhaps we do feel the whole universe, but are not apt to recognize that the feelings we have are actually the whole of existence, because our identification is localized to a specifc body.

    i have written much but this idea is difficult to, both, explain as well as grasp.

    from this i am suggesting that we (our minds) are not simply the gross human organism, but we are also the cells and all else that composes us, and that what we call mind is the conglomeration of all these "parts" into a whole.

    all the parts of a rats brain have once been removed, but that rat was still capable of doing the same tricks that it had learned before removal.

    some peoples believe that memories are contained in the legs.

    an interesting picture this paints, i feel, that we are hardly conscious of... namely, that mind is not restricted to highly complex organisms, but rather, that we have identified complex organisms with having "mind" because the complexity makes for a "conglomerate-mind" that can no longer be ignored as being such.

    it is like the "body" of knowledge... it is composed of all the "individual" minds which are contributors. further, when that body of knowledge undergoes revolutionary re-organization, so do it's members... though i will admit that some are slower than others to comprehend the new order. i am suggesting an assimilation of "the body of knowledge" with "the human body"... that, metaphorically, at least, they are the same.
  8. Nov 28, 2005 #7
    there is a "societal mind"... a certain tendancy, that expresses itself in the "sub-minds" that constitute it, and which also endow it with a kind of individuality, through composition.

    the universe loves itself. is that what gravity is telling us? then from gravity develops all the other forces, which endow the universe with complexity/diversity of form and characteristic.

    many have heard, or perhaps even experienced, "cosmic consciousness"... isn't it (if you've experienced it, or even if you have heard about it described) one there there is the complete sense that this whole universe is One, and thereby endowed with what has been called "cosmic love". this is all very interesting and very much worthy of greater exploration. wow! then the highest expression of being is that consciousness which is aware of itself, truly, as being undifferentiated wholeness!!
  9. Nov 29, 2005 #8


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    Neither I. For the same reasons that I do not believe in telepathy, I do not believe that the creation of an exact replica would have any effect on my experience of the world. That replica can say that it is me, and have all my memories, but it would still be another person, while I retain my own perceptions and memories. I think that, once the teleportation has been performed, I would be just plain dead.

    It would be interesting, though, the use that the military could give to such devices. Would highly skilled soldiers be regularly teleported to places where their abilities are needed? What would they be told abbout the effects? especially since, when they see someone else after being teleported out and back, they would see no difference.
  10. Dec 4, 2005 #9
    essentially... we must refer to the difference that exists between a dead body and a living one.

    is it like implanting God into a body? or like flicking a switch? or is it something else, altogether?

    wouldn't that being, then, be a completely different being than the original? just in the same form?
    or would they be of one mind? and incapable of co-existing in their "new" arrangement of bodies?

    would they be "independent" entities, as we like to refer to ourselves?
  11. Dec 6, 2005 #10
    On of the primary indicators of 'consciousness' is awareness of 'self' (self awareness).

    No matter how many exact replicas are produced, if self awareness imbues each replica, then 'self awareness' is the test. The real ones speak from the "I".
  12. Dec 6, 2005 #11
    depends on how you define consciousness,annihilation,replicate...

    let us assume you mean a direct snapshot for ONE TIMEFRAME
    before you annihilate and then replicate exactly identical to that snapshot state (regardless if your definitions are based on neural networks, chemistry, physics or philosophy)

    I would think that based on simulations science and applied math, if the snapshot of annihilation and the replication state were near identical then the consciousness would never know the wiser that they would be destroyed thus continue living the life they led with the past they had.
  13. Dec 6, 2005 #12
    Every atom is your body is supposedly replaced within a 7-year timeframe. So assuming monism, which is a hefty assumption in and of itself, it's the arrangement or interaction, not anything inherent in the matter itself, and it would seem that as long as that pattern is conserved, so are you. If a replica of you is created, it would also be you.*

    As illuminated by some experience with heavy depersonalization, I think our continuity is an illusion anyway. If sentience is a natural property of certain arrangments of, or interactions between, bits of information, then it's my personal belief that we're actually just frames of discrete consciousness blended together by short-term memory - which would go hand in hand with the "specious present."

    Abandon hope, all ye who enter here: ---- The rest was vaguely rational, this is not.
    ---- But feedback is always appreciated so I offer it up.

    *At the risk of sounding insane, I'll write what "reasoning" I use to "resolve" that conundrum.
    I take ( insert whatever substrate for consciousness you personally subscribe to (or like me, use the abstract notion) here) and assume that different states of that system correspond with different sets of qualia (disparate consciousness).

    The aforementioned (2 paragraph ago) discrete flashes of consciousness, in this particular case, are manifest as different states of that system. Just like the number of possible images our eyes/mind can apprehend are finite (though unfathomably large), there are a finite number of states of whatever substrate you subscribe to. So just like one could calculate every sight seen throughout history or that will ever be seen by human eyes, assuming one could manipulate the consciousness-manifesting system directly, they could create every possible subjective state possible (though I'm sure, like images, there are differing resolutions, adding more complexity). These conscious states would include all the moments of my entire life, as well as yours, or any person that has or will ever exist.

    Now here, we depart reason for the vagaries of cotarded's demented mind. I see myself (referring only to the current discrete snapshot, a planck time of that consciousness manifesting system, or whatever) as simply the possibility of that state. So all the 'I's I'll ever be are already sentient by possibility, regardless of whether a body ever generates the manifesting arrangement/interaction that offers them context.

    Already, I disagree with that. But hey.

    edit: I started this way earlier tonight, before neurocomp's post, and got distracted and forgot about it. so some of this is redundant.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2005
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