Does a copy know?

John K Clark (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 09:22:46 -0700 (PDT)


On Mon, 15 Sep 1997 Geoff Smith <> Wrote:

>Yes, you are a different person after 5 minutes, even if you haven't

So you die ever 5 minutes and a copy is born, if so then this "dying"
business doesn't seem to be any big deal.

>What I am trying to say is that if two objects, whatever they are,
>exist simultaneously in different locations, they are not the same

But I am not an object, I am not a noun, I am an adjective, I am the way
matter behaves when it is organized in a John K Clark way. At the present
time only one chunk of matter in the universe behaves that way, someday that
could change.

>It's not that the copy has moved, it's that the original has *not*

I don't see how position could be relevant to consciousness, the brain has no
way of detecting it's position, only senses can do that and they need not
come from the same place as the brain.

>I agree that we are our thoughts, but the duplicate has had no
>thoughts, only *memories* of thoughts.

But memories of thoughts is all you or I or copies or originals have. There
is no way to tell you were not created 5 minutes ago complete with memories
of being a child, and no reason to be concerned if you were. I think that
when you're talking about information, and that's what we are, the
distinction between copy and original becomes meaningless. Do you have my
original post or just an inferior copy?

>the original will theoretically still have some of the atoms that
>participated in the chemical reactions that made those thoughts in
>the first place.

How could that be relevant? Science can not tell one Hydrogen atom from
another, good thing too because we constantly recycle our atoms, a year ago
your atoms were in plants and fish and birds and cows.

>If I somehow (another thought experiment) have the exact same thought
>as you (I'm not sure how you'd go about measuring that) at exactly
>the same time, are our two persons converging.


>And if this continues, to the point where ALL our thoughts and
>emotions are exactly the same, have we become one person?


>Did I die?


>Did you die?


>How can two people become one when both of them still exist?

Because nothing has been lost. If I append your post and my post to the same
text file both posts still exist but there is only one file.

>To differentiate, I would again have to look at history of action

I don't know why I'm the way I am. Nobody consciously understands the
fantastically complicated history that in a universe billions of light years
across and billions of years old somehow brought one particular sperm and one
particular egg together at one particular instant, but consciousness is what
we're concerned with so I don't see how the mysterious history of how I got
to be the way I am could make the slightest difference to my consciousness.
The only important thing is that I am the way I am.

John K Clark

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