Re: The copy paradox

Anders Sandberg (
06 Nov 1997 18:13:10 +0100

Brent Allsop <> writes:

> I enjoyed your "The Calculus of Identity" page, very
> interesting. Within it you seem to consider the "self function" to be
> a kind of "relative" thing based on opinions or whatever of whatever
> the particular self thing is. But of course such opinions can be
> mistaken can't they? You said:
> > the self-function need not be universal, it is unique for each
> > system (I identify myself with my actions, you might identify with
> > your memes and somebody might identify with their body). So if we
> > assume the existence of some kind of abstract "superself-function"
> > which for any system gives us its sense of identity

The point here is, that different people have different senses of
self, and it might even vary during time or when they are in certain
states. So I introduced my two-variable self function to deal with
this. Of course, when you apply the self-function to somebody else,
you will most likely be wrong about that person's sense of self.

> For a moment let's assume that there is no such thing as an
> immortal spiritual ghost inside our body that is ourselves. If a
> person identifies himself as such a fictional "ghost" which he might
> sincerely believe is inside his body, then his concept of self would
> not exist right? Since his false ideas had no correspondence to
> anything in reality.

No. His self(me, myself) would evaluate to something. If this dualist
then realized the error of his ways he would become a slightly
different person, and his self(me', myself') could evaluate to
something else (but likely he would think he had not become somebody
different, just a bit more enlightened).

> You said you identify yourself with your actions. This is
> only partially true isn't it? Wouldn't a very different body that
> acted the same as you be different than you?

In what way? I would consider another entity which acted just like me
as another instance of me, a me-over-there which is another physical
instance of the abstract class 'Me' (of which I'm currently the only

> So, shouldn't a self() function, rather than be something that
> is relative to the particular system or person, be something that is
> more absolute and universal? Shouldn't it consist of all true
> attributes of the self and none that are false or not really existent
> attributes?

Can you have an erroneous sense of selfhood? If I ask you if you are
yourself, would you be able to be mistaken? I would say that is not
possible; we may have stupid ideas about who we are, the philosophy of
identity or what we think is our self() functions, but deep down we
all feel a sense of identity to some extent. The attributes of our
selves are not relevant, what I was trying to model is personal
experience of self.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y