Re: Identity

Void where inhibited (
Mon, 23 Nov 1998 20:01:50 -0500 (EST)

On Sun, 22 Nov 1998, John Clark wrote:

> Yes, but the difference between two objects and two examples of the same object
> is not discernable so I don't care which is really true.

That "example" you're referring to is a person. It may matter to that "example" whether you kill him or not. If that example doesn't want to be killed, then you shouldn't kill him. This is the ethical argument I'm making.

> >It certainly does matter HOW MANY you have, though not WHICH you have.
> You're talking about objects so that's obviously true.

Unless you're proposing some clear delineation marking the difference between "object" and "person," people are objects. They're conscious objects. Living objects. Loving objects. Dreaming objects. But objects, nonetheless.

> >Where is this one "green" of which you speak? Where is the "two?"
> >Can you show it to me? Can you point at it?
> No I can not, adjectives don't exist in a particular point in space or a
> particular instance in time.

OK. Well, then, it matters in this case whether there is a Green which exists separate from all green things or whether each green thing has its own internal greenness which is destroyed when you obliterate the cube. If the former, then copies can be killed willy-nilly, because the Person still exists. If the latter, then they can't.

I'm telling you there is no Green.

> >Joviality aside, we could define the One True Green to be the
> >set of all green things.
> I'm not big on definitions, few are needed and even fewer are any good, your
> definition of green is no exception. Even if all green things were destroyed
> green might not be because that subjective experience might exist in the future.
> And you can have green without green things or even green light, as in
> hallucinations. Before you ask let me say that I have no definition of green,
> only examples.

How would we know if you were right and I was wrong? How would we know if greenness were contained in each green thing rather than existing separately from all things green?

> First of all I don't have consciousness I am consciousness. Emotions,
> sensations, and thoughts are the part of me I value, not protoplasm. Second,
> things are made of atoms and atoms have no individuality, if they can't even
> give this interesting property to themselves how can they give it to me?

They organize. The organization is you. (Notice that I CAN point at the organization of matter; you can't point at the Green.) Each time something is organized like you, it's a person. You will die when you get disorganized, probably by turning into something simpler. This may not be a bad thing, particularly if in dying you create another person with precisely the same organization, but you'll be dead.

> >If I've got two green cubes, and smash one, what happens
> >to the second cube's greenness?
> If I have two printers printing out the same novel and I smash one is the book
> destroyed ?

One is, the other isn't. WHICH doesn't matter; but the fact remains that where once you had two novels printing, now you've got one.

> If I have two phonographs playing the same symphony and I smash
> one machine what happens to the music?

It gets quieter; there is less of it.

> >there is a little less Green in the world.
> I've never seen that make the slightest difference in anything. The number of green
> things in the universe constantly fluctuates, but it wouldn't matter if it dropped to zero.
> After a billion years without green and a green thing finally evolved again it would be
> just as green as it was before.

You're right. If a Green exists, the fact that there are fewer green things matters not a fig to anyone.

> >I happen to think that there is no such thing as a Green; that's
> >what I meant by the non-existence of Plato's heaven.
> Then you should use nothing but nouns and pronouns when you speak or write, all
> other words are just gibberish. Me Tarzan you Jane.

Adjectives make perfect sense to me; there just isn't a Platonic form for each adjective. There is no Green off of which green things are modeled, there is no Chair from which all chairs are built, and there is no John Clark from which you are formed. Rather, instead, there are red things, there are chairs (arbitrarily defined), and you are John Clark. The adjectives DO work without Plato's heaven; you make the same mistake Plato did when you presume its existence.

The other parts of speech go similarly.