• TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I once had a program to do with police suspect facial sketching. The app had many different types of eyes, ears, noses, mouths, facial hair and hair styles. It was probably assumed that any face could be reconstructed with these basic building blocks.

    What if personalities are like that? We could create a menu of sorts - ways of thinking, attitudes, beliefs, inclinations, whatever that we consider as relevant to personality - and from that reconstruct every conceivable personality.

    I'm specifically concerned about identity - that feeling of self as not the same as anyone else. If we could do what I propose then it appears that the self/ego is but a specific combination of identity-relevant features such as taste, thinking style, beliefs, etc. This combination can be unique and it is true that, in that sense of a particular combination of features, a person could be 1 in 7 billion (population of the world).

    However, what is a fact is that the menu is finite. There are a finite number of features that can be selected from it. In other words the combinations available to us are finite.

    That means, at some point in time, when all combinations of personality or even body types have actualized, repetitions will occur. A person exactly like Isaac Newton, Hitler, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, even you, will be born.

    Is this reincarnation?

    Since there is no possible way, for instance, to tell apart you dead and gone and the new person who is exactly like you in mind and body, we would be forced to say you were reborn.

    Comments...
  • Echarmion
    480
    I have two points to raise:

    One, features, be they facial features or "character traits" can be summarized into categories like "green eyes" and "lazyness". Those categories necessarily leave out the specific in favor of the general. If you want to fully describe all possible facial features, you'd need to actually list them all. The possible configurations of atoms are not infinite, but they are likely very, very large. The same is true for the configuration of brains.

    Two: even if, by pure chance, someone with my exact brain structure were to be born, they wouldn't be born to my mother. Nor would their environment in the womb and after birth be identical to mine. By the time a consciousness has formed, they'd no longer be me. They'd be similar, but not the same.

    The self is, at the most basic level, an attribute associated with thoughts. There are thoughts that come with the impression of being "mine". I am the common element of those thoughts. If, by some design these thoughts were to appear someone else (e.g. being generated by a copy of my brain) then I would be there, as well. But just a collection of my approximate "traits" is not me.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    One, features, be they facial features or "character traits" can be summarized into categories like "green eyes" and "lazyness". Those categories necessarily leave out the specific in favor of the general. If you want to fully describe all possible facial features, you'd need to actually list them all. The possible configurations of atoms are not infinite, but they are likely very, very large. The same is true for the configuration of brains.Echarmion

    I'd have to argue that we there are limits to our senses' resolution. For example our eyes won't be able to tell the difference between 1 micrometer from 2 micrometers. Our other senses may have similar limitations e.g. we can't tell by smell the difference between pork and beef. You know what I mean. So, even if there are features that make a difference our limited senses wouldn't be able to see them. It's like the mathematical truth that 1 = 0.9999999...

    Two: even if, by pure chance, someone with my exact brain structure were to be born, they wouldn't be born to my mother. Nor would their environment in the womb and after birth be identical to mine. By the time a consciousness has formed, they'd no longer be me. They'd be similar, but not the same.Echarmion

    I agree but they'd be so similar that it would amount to a sensation to say the least. People would be amazed wouldn't they? What are the chances? Surely miniscule and ''negligible'' and yet we have someone in, say, 200000 AD exactly like you in 2019 AD. Some might say it's a miracle and start worshipping you as an incarnation :smile:

    But just a collection of my approximate "traits" is not me.Echarmion

    Can't we be systematic and list the things that make you?

    Many times I've seen people (myself mostly) thinking they've a new idea or perspective only to discover that it's actually very old. We could say that a part of the original thinker's mind reincarnated itself in these people.
  • Echarmion
    480
    I'd have to argue that we there are limits to our senses' resolution. For example our eyes won't be able to tell the difference between 1 micrometer from 2 micrometers. Our other senses may have similar limitations e.g. we can't tell by smell the difference between pork and beef. You know what I mean. So, even if there are features that make a difference our limited senses wouldn't be able to see them. It's like the mathematical truth that 1 = 0.9999999...TheMadFool

    Sure, but there is still an extremely large amount of configuration. You have to consider that the amount of configurations is multiplicative for every feature. You can look up an xkcd comic about the number of possible unique English language tweets to get an idea of the numbers involved when you get a bunch of multiplicative factors.

    I agree but they'd be so similar that it would amount to a sensation to say the least. People would be amazed wouldn't they? What are the chances? Surely miniscule and ''negligible'' and yet we have someone in, say, 200000 AD exactly like you in 2019 AD. Some might say it's a miracle and start worshipping you as an incarnation :smile:TheMadFool

    I don't know. I think my "visible" character traits are pretty heavily influenced by my circumstances. With different circumstances, I might not at all seem similar.

    Can't we be systematic and list the things that make youTheMadFool

    Sure, but first we'd need to be a bit more specific about the "you". Is it just my self-awareness? Is it a description of my current brain state? Is it some abstraction?

    Many times I've seen people (myself mostly) thinking they've a new idea or perspective only to discover that it's actually very old. We could say that a part of the original thinker's mind reincarnated itself in these people.TheMadFool

    Well, everything is a remix, or so the saying goes. Are your thoughts the same as mine if we think about the same thing? Who knows.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I agree that the numbers are huge but given enough time even the most improbable will occur simply because it isn't an impossibility.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    Is this reincarnation?TheMadFool

    No.

    Sure, if the universe (including any physically-interrelated multiverse that our Big-Bang universe is part of) is infinite, there must be many identical "You"s in the universe.

    Since there is no possible way, for instance, to tell apart you dead and gone and the new person who is exactly like you in mind and body, we would be forced to say you were reborn.

    If you could be transported to those other places and times, and met those people identical to people you know here, of course you'd say that they're the original person you knew.

    But from your point of view, all those people identical to you aren't you. There are worlds in which one of them wins Lotto. Where's your benefit from that?

    Michael Ossipoff

    8 M (South-Solstice WeekDate Calendar)

    ...Monday of the 8th week of the calendar-year that started with the Monday that started nearest to the South-Solstice.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    If you could be transported to those other places and times, and met those people identical to people you know here, of course you'd say that they're the original person you knew.Michael Ossipoff

    Why can't there be 2 you's? All, reincarnations could be the same person. Strangely there seems to be something about identity I'm missing. Imagine there are two identical people X and Y coming into existence by the process I described in the OP. When X dies then Y would continue to exist, meaning, in some way, that X hasn't actually died. Yet, when you think of it X has become nonexistent and something has changed. I'm not able to put a finger on what that is? Can you help?
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k


    ”If you could be transported to those other places and times, and met those people identical to people you know here, of course you'd say that they're the original person you knew.” — Michael Ossipoff
    .
    Why can't there be 2 you's?
    .
    There could be a number of people identical to you, indistinguishable by anyone. But there’s one person who’d know that there others aren’t you. You’d know.
    .
    All, reincarnations could be the same person.
    .
    A next incarnation would be a continuation of the same personal experience, and in that sense it would indeed be You, from your point of view. The same continuity of experience, but you won’t necessarily the same person in all respects. You as someone a little different from before. Even in this life, though there was of course a continuity of experience, and though of course there are remembered events, I don’t even know the person I was when I was in elementary school, or even junior-high school. I know what some of my experiences, feelings and conclusions were, but I have no idea how I arrived at or justified those conclusions. Likewise, in a next incarnation, you won’t likely be exactly the same person.
    .
    Reincarnation would depend on Materialism being wrong. As an Ontic Structural Subjective Idealist (…but really a disbeliever in any metaphysics, including Materialism), I believe there’s probably reincarnation, but a lot of people here are Materialists, and a lot of these subjects (I like the Antinatalist issues) can be discussed, and some conclusions agreed on, without agreement about Materialism or reincarnation.
    .
    Strangely there seems to be something about identity I'm missing. Imagine there are two identical people X and Y coming into existence by the process I described in the OP. When X dies then Y would continue to exist, meaning, in some way, that X hasn't actually died.
    .
    From his point of view, he’s dying (Of course he never experiences the time when he has completely shut-down). He has no way of knowing (and wouldn’t care) that someone identical to him is still involved in worldly-life.
    .
    Yet, when you think of it X has become nonexistent and something has changed.
    .
    It depends entirely on whose point of view is discussed.
    .
    From X’s own point of view, he’s dying (but hasn’t died, hasn’t completely lost consciousness (…though he’s lost waking consciousness) ).
    .
    Y has no relevance to him.
    .
    From the point of view of someone who knows X, and is in the company of Y, that person couldn’t distinguish Y from X, and would mistake Y for X.
    .
    Some writer once took this to a stark extreme:
    .
    Suppose that a person is terminally ill.
    .
    Suppose that there were a medical procedure that could:
    .
    1. Build an exact copy of that person, but without the illness.
    .
    2. Somehow connect (implausibly-futuristic) sensors to that patient, in order to cause the copy to at all times exactly duplicate the state of the patient.
    .
    Now the two persons are indistinguishable, in all regards.
    .
    So now they shut down the original person, the patient. Isn’t he now in the duplicate? No, not from his own point of view, and that’s what counts.
    .
    The duplicate is nothing but a copy, a different individual who, though identical, is a different individual.
    .
    That copy is irrelevant, from the original person’s point of view. From his own point of view, the original person just dies. He doesn’t experience continued worldly life as the duplicate. The duplicate, of course, fully believes that he’s the original person, and that the procedure has succeeded, but that’s irrelevant to the original person.
    .
    Likewise, cryonics won’t and can’t deliver on its promise of the original person’s continued life upon revival of the frozen body.
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
    .
    8 Tu
  • Christoffer
    543
    What if personalities are like that?TheMadFool

    Psychology primarily use the system 1 and system 2 for how we process and think about the world, and then the five-factor model for personality. If you want to include science, that's the models to use together with general IQ measurements.

    That means, at some point in time, when all combinations of personality or even body types have actualized, repetitions will occur. A person exactly like Isaac Newton, Hitler, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, even you, will be born.TheMadFool

    That will never happen. You first have to factor in the possible variations of the above, then add genetical variations that will never be the same because of evolution, which in turn influence behavior, then add cultural nurture that forms the individual, environmental influences etc.

    Is this reincarnation?TheMadFool

    So, no. Variations get far beyond just personality.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k
    I said:

    There could be a number of people identical to you, indistinguishable by anyone. But there’s one person who’d know that there others aren’t you. You’d know.

    I emphasize that, of course, all of your exact duplicates would know the same things about themselves, and you & they would all be right.

    Each one ;of them would know that what happened with the other copies wouldn't affect him. Each would know that the other copies aren't him.

    Michael Ossipoff

    8 W
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k


    My main concern is this: there is something different about a person A and an exact copy of that person A1. I don't know what it is. Do you?

    Let's take your thought experiment Michael Ossipoff about a terminally ill person A. We make an exact copy A1 (all physical and mental features included). We then let A die and wake up A1. What is different between A and A1?

    A has experienced non-existence one might say. But what we've done to A and A1 seems very similar to sleep. When we sleep we cease to exist mentally (that's what counts doesn't it?) and then we wake up - there's a discontinuity of mind caused by sleep. So we could in fact say that a person dies in his sleep only to wake up as another. The only thing that seems to ground our identity is memory - we remember what happened before we slept. Of course our physical appearance too doesn't change.

    Therefore, it seems, based on the analysis above, that A1 is A (A has been cured of his fatal disease) and we can rightly call A1 as A.

    Now let's look at it from a moral standpoint. Suppose A had commited a crime but he ''dies'' before he can be punished. A1, by analysis above, is A since he has the memory of the crime and is an exact copy of A. Yet, it seems intuitively wrong to punish A1 for A's crime. It's just that A1 has A's memories. He didn't actually commit the crime.

    Here we are. One point of view suggests A is A1 and another that suggests the opposite.

    What is it that I'm missing?
  • Christoffer
    543
    A has experienced non-existence one might say. But what we've done to A and A1 seems very similar to sleep.TheMadFool

    It will only feel like sleep for the person you copied if you copied everything exactly. The person who died, died.

    When we sleep we cease to exist mentallyTheMadFool

    No we don't, our minds are very active during sleep, but I get your point.

    So we could in fact say that a person dies in his sleep only to wake up as another.TheMadFool

    How can this be if you don't move the actual brain from A to A1? The mind isn't external to the neurons and nerve structure of A, so copying A to A1 would only make A1 feel like having slept from the point of being copied. The person who dies, dies and will not wake up.

    The only thing that seems to ground our identity is memory - we remember what happened before we slept. Of course our physical appearance too doesn't change.TheMadFool

    Yes, there's nothing to suggest that our identity is more than our memories. However, personality relies on other things in our brain structure and body. You can even transplant gut bacteria from one person to another and that person might change some personality traits, like being angrier and eating more because the person those gut bacterias came from had those traits.

    The identity is a mix of memories and physical/genetical programming that tune how we react and act out of those memories. It's why in psychology we've concluded the debate over nature or nurture to be over, it's both. Body and mind, genetics/physical (nature) and memories (nurture).

    Therefore, it seems, based on the analysis above, that A1 is A (A has been cured of his fatal disease) and we can rightly call A1 as A.TheMadFool

    A1 is A if it's a perfect copy. If A were still alive, both A and A1 is A.
    But after that point, both will have different experiences and will become two new identity-versions. A and A1 will have their own memories that will shape their future self.

    A1, by analysis above, is A since he has the memory of the crime and is an exact copy of A. Yet, it seems intuitively wrong to punish A1 for A's crime. It's just that A1 has A's memories. He didn't actually commit the crime.TheMadFool

    We punish people who ordered crimes right? They don't do the crimes but their mind was part of it. The physical body doesn't matter, the intention does. If A1 is a perfect copy in every way, it will remember and react like A would have when charged with the crime.

    It would be different if A1 committed a crime AFTER the copying. Would A also be guilty if A thought of doing the crime and A1 carried it out, but not A? That's a much more interesting thought experiment in my opinion.

    Here we are. One point of view suggests A is A1 and another that suggests the opposite.TheMadFool

    I actually don't think it's overly complicated. An exact copy is a copy, it's the same person times two.

    You might want to see the movie "The Prestige"
    And if you really wanna fry your brain, play the game SOMA.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    It would be different if A1 committed a crime AFTER the copying. Would A also be guilty if A thought of doing the crime and A1 carried it out, but not A? That's a much more interesting thought experiment in my opinionChristoffer

    Why do you say that? Why is it more interesting?

    For me the reversal of crime and punishment (A1 commiting the crime and A being punished) further illustrates my point which is there's a difference between A (original person) and A1 (the exact copy). @Michael Ossipoff's thought experiment is very interesting for that reason. An exact copy isn't perfectly identical to the original, at least in moral terms. We wouldn't punish the copy for the original's offences.

    What about reincarnation? If a criminal A gets reincarnated (soul) then moral intuition seems to allow retribution on the reincarnated criminal even though now he may be a different person, maybe even a good samaritan or the like. If the criminal remembers his past then he is the criminal, right? Yet, the criminal died in his past life.The situation seems similar to the original and his/her exact copy.

    Yet, we're reluctant to punish the copy for the original's crime but willing to punish the reincarnated criminal despite the fact that it's only the memory that matters in both cases.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.7k


    My main concern is this: there is something different about a person A and an exact copy of that person A1. I don't know what it is. Do you?
    .
    If neither is me, then there’s no difference. If I’m A, then there’s a big difference, because, as A, I actually experience A’s experiences; I experience being A.
    .
    Of course, as soon as A1 experiences something that A doesn’t experience, or vice-versa, then they can’t strictly be said to be identical, because they aren’t both in the same state. But, if I’m A, then even if A1 is in the same state as I, his state is irrelevant to me (disregarding such things as compassion).

    .
    Let's take your thought experiment Michael Ossipoff about a terminally ill person A. We make an exact copy A1 (all physical and mental features included). We then let A die and wake up A1. What is different between A and A1?

    .
    A has experienced non-existence one might say.
    .
    Nonexistence is never experienced. One’s own death is something ongoing, ever deepening sleep, never a completed shutdown.
    .
    But what we've done to A and A1 seems very similar to sleep. When we sleep we cease to exist mentally (that's what counts doesn't it?) and then we wake up - there's a discontinuity of mind caused by sleep. So we could in fact say that a person dies in his sleep only to wake up as another.
    .
    I have to admit that I, too, don’t know the answer to that, though it seems like something that we should be able to answer. How could there be a matter so basic about ourselves that we can’t answer??!
    .
    Vedantists have written that what you said above proves that we aren’t really unconscious even in deep-sleep. …that we must have been conscious to some degree, for there to be the continuity of experience that makes us the same person we were yesterday.
    .
    Buddhists have said that we aren’t the same person from one day to the next.
    .
    The Buddhist position is supported by the question: Who can prove that they’re the same person as yesterday, rather than just a similar person, like A1, who has some same memories?
    .
    …like what I was saying about me when I was in elementary-school or junior-high-school.
    .
    Don’t contradictions or seemingly unanswerable questions point to a wrong premise?
    .
    The only thing that seems to ground our identity is memory - we remember what happened before we slept. Of course our physical appearance too doesn't change.

    .
    Therefore, it seems, based on the analysis above, that A1 is A (A has been cured of his fatal disease) and we can rightly call A1 as A.
    .
    …or that I’m not yesterday’s Michael Ossipoff.
    .
    Undeniably we’re the same organism we were yesterday.
    .
    We’re purposefully-responsive devices, like a Roomba, a mousetrap, a thermostat or a fridge-light-switch.
    .
    Of course there are a few significant qualitative differences: Our biological origin. The fact that the above-listed devices are, for the most part, constant-composition objects, while we’re systems whose composition needn’t be, and isn’t, constant.
    .
    But those differences are just differences of origin and mechanism. As purposefully-responsive devices, we aren’t fundamentally different from Roomba and mousetrap.
    .
    And we’re the same device we were yesterday, the same device-system, even though some of our molecules aren’t the same ones we had yesterday.
    .
    So there’s a meaningful sense in which we are the same person as yesterday, and I’m the same person as I was in elementary-school. …the same system. …like that ship, on which we replace one part at a time until we’ve replaced every part.
    .
    Antiques-dealer to customer:
    .
    “This hatchet once belonged to George Washington.”
    .
    “Yeah? It looks pretty new to me.”
    .
    “Well, it’s had a few new heads, and a few new handles.”
    .
    As for being the same person in terms of continuity of experience, I don’t know, because if we were conscious during deep sleep, we (at least usually) don’t remember it. But not remembering it doesn’t necessarily mean that we weren’t conscious. But that brings up what it means to be conscious. …and that word’s meaning is hopelessly human-chauvinistic, mammal-chauvinistic, animal-chauvinistic, or biological-organism chauvinistic.
    .
    I’ve suggested that “the property of being a purposefully-responsive device” is more definable, and more philosophically useful than “consciousness”. What about a purposefully-responsive device that’s temporarily turned-off? Well, if it’s temporarily turned itself off, and designed to later turn itself back on, then it’s still in operation, isn’t it. So maybe the Vedantists that I quoted above are right too.
    .
    There’s no reason why both positions can’t be right, but just speaking of different matters.
    .
    Now let's look at it from a moral standpoint. Suppose A had commited a crime but he ''dies'' before he can be punished. A1, by analysis above, is A since he has the memory of the crime and is an exact copy of A. Yet, it seems intuitively wrong to punish A1 for A's crime. It's just that A1 has A's memories. He didn't actually commit the crime.
    .
    Agreed. You can only rightfully punish the same physical system that did the crime. …not a copy.

    .
    Here we are. One point of view suggests A is A1 and another that suggests the opposite.
    .
    My conclusion from this discussion is that both views are right, about different matters, different meanings for being the same person.
    .
    By the way, to answer something from another posting here, I don’t think a reincarnated person is guilty of what was done by the person who was reincarnated. A past-life, it seems to me, is indeterminate. This life doesn’t need a past-life to explain it, even if there’s a past-life that leads into this one. That a past-life leads into this one doesn’t mean that it’s the origin of this life…which is an independently inevitable experience-story, a timeless system of inter-referring abstract facts (…whose “existence” or “reality” is a meaningless question.)
    .
    An Antinatalist says, “I didn’t ask for this life! It isn’t my fault!” He’s right. It isn’t his fault, or anyone’s fault. I disagree with Theists who (unlike the Gnostics) blame it on God.
    .
    The Antinatalists, too, want to blame someone, and I disagree with them on that.
    .
    That Antinatalist’s experience-story is/was inevitable. Even if his story depends on having a protagonist (him) and he’s thereby essential to it and a complementary part of it, he nevertheless didn’t ask for there to be abstract facts and experience-stories.
    .
    Michael Ossipoff
    .
    8 W
  • Christoffer
    543
    Why do you say that? Why is it more interesting?TheMadFool

    Because if the crime was committed before the copying, both are guilty since both have the same identity, memory of the murder, motivation etc. so it's essentially a coin toss who gets jail or both get it.

    Let's say "B" gets murdered.

    If A is copied into A1 and they both get separated for a day, A or A1 murders B that day, but the other didn't.

    Essentially they both had the same psychology, motivation and thought process up until this point, but small variations between their experience during that day changed their line of thinking and act, having one of them kill B, while the other didn't.

    Maybe A even had the idea to murder B before copying, but during the day after, either A or A1 murdered B and the other couldn't because he was already murdered. Who is guilty then? If they both had the same motivation and will to act?
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