Re: Can I kill "the original"?

From: John Clark (
Date: Sat May 13 2000 - 11:24:20 MDT

Harvey Newstrom <> Wrote:

>To you, the original and the copy are identical. You can't tell them apart.
>Therefore you think they are interchangeable. And they are, for your purposes.

It's not just me, the scientific method can detect no difference either, but
nevertheless you insist there is still a vital difference of some sort.
Sort of like the arguments I've heard from Catholics who say it may still
look exactly like bread and wine after the ceremony but REALLY
it's the body and blood of Jesus. I don't think so.

>I can perceived the thoughts of the original "me". I cannot perceive the
>thoughts of the new "me".

Of course you can, you're both thinking the same thing.

>I can control the actions of the original "me". I cannot control the actions
>of the new "me".

Of course you can, you scratch your nose and you see the copy scratch
his nose. Sooner or later (usually sooner) a random quantum fluctuation will
happen or one of you will see or hear something the other does not and the
two of you will diverge, but until then the two bodies will move and think in sync.

> Not only can I easily tell the difference between the old and new "me's"

Of course you can't.

>I could never get them confused.

Of course you can. I put you two in a symmetrical environment and have a switch
that swaps the input sense data that originated in one body and send it to the
other brain. You can't tell when I throw the switch. I have another magic gadget
that can instantly remove the brain from one body and put it into the other.
You can't tell when I throw that switch either and neither can the other fellow,
except that there isn't really another fellow, there is only you.

>The original "me" is always here and is never disconnected. The new "me" is
>over there, it is never connected.

I don't know what that means.

>My perception of the old and new "me's" are so radically different, that they
>are not even similar.

All the proposed mechanisms (except one) that attempt to identify the cause of
this huge change, like something special about my atoms or something special about
my position have been shown to be invalid, "the original" and "the copy" are not well
defined concepts nor can they be used as distinct categories without inconsistencies,
and the vague psycho-babble explanations for all this are so bad they're not even wrong.
It's time to stop dancing around the issue, if you take it as an axiom that the original and
the copy are somehow different, and admittedly most do, then there is only one
conclusion, the religious people are right after all and we have a soul undetectable by
the scientific method.

Obviously I can't prove (by the scientific method) that's wrong but I'm just not ready
to surrender to the irrational.

           John K Clark

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