Re: life extension advocacy plans (fear of Tithonus) --> worryingabout the brain

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 22:46:43 MDT

From: "Miriam English" <>
> I am a regime of thought patterns and memories, a set of actions performed.
> My body (including the physical brain) has only the most tenuous and
> coincidental connection with that. My body is one of the things that helps
> provide the illusion of continuity, but it has little to do with my feeling
> that I am me.

Of course you can think of yourself any way you like (absurd for me to think
of meddling with your self-image), and to a cognitive neuroscientist, you are
also an enteric nervous system, without which you could not feel as you do. If
you want to know how it feels to really dissociate your thought patterns from
your body, eat a bunch of LSD and get back to me (assuming you haven't just
done that τΏτ ). The illusion of continuity is one of the persistent thought
patterns interfering with the recognition and acknowledgment of the part
hormones (as one example of how bodily functions affect thinking) play in
deciding which actions you perform.

> There is no continuous me -- just the
> illusion of it maintained by my memories of what I did and felt on the
> preceding day.

That is exactly the case, as pointed out over five thousand years ago in
ancient texts (Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, among others). Sometimes it does
help to consult the archives, in this case, some very old archives.

> If my biological self died in her sleep one night and next day my
> downloaded self awoke, then in what way have I not continued? I would still
> remember what went before in exactly the same way I do each morning of my
> biological life.

Right, except that your biological life has a body attached to it, and that
body creates millions of sensory inputs. Without a body, you wouldn't need to
sleep, and so you'd not need to go through the routine of awakening each
morning. That feeling would be gone. In addition, most people can't stand more
than a few hours of sensory deprivation. If the "copy" does not have an
identically replicated body attached to it, you'll feel the difference. If the
"copy" has an identically replicated body attached to it, then it's more than
an "upload" -- it's an exact duplicate organism as well as a cognitive twin --
an extremely difficult item to create.

Stay hungry,

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, CYC, and ELIZA

     Everything that can happen has already happened, not just once,
     but an infinite number of times, and will continue to do so forever.
     (Everything that can happen = more than anyone can imagine.)

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