• JohnLocke
    10
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there. Therefore, I am immortal and I shall never die in one sense, as there will always be another 'me' born again, and so the cycle repeats itself an infinite number of times. Therefore, what is consciousness?

    If the universe is indeed infinite, then there would be an infinite number of solar systems exactly like our own, arranged exactly in the same way, with one Earth with me on it, exactly the same age as I am now, doing the exact same thing at exactly the same time.

    The only thing that separates all these 'me' is space i.e. distance, or time. Therefore, distance, or time, must be important in considering the nature of consciousness?

    So, how can I really 'die' if there is always another 'me' doing the exact same thing I am doing now?

    If there are an infinite number of 'me' out there, then that would mean there is also an infinite number of people 'like me'. Perhaps with one extra hair on their head, one more freckle, slightly longer finger, slightly taller, shorter and so on. Therefore, there would be an infinite number of people who are incrementally different from me in an infinite universe. Therefore, when do they 'stop being me'? Is the person with the extra hair on their head 'me'? What is the boundary between 'me' and 'not me'. This is important for considering the nature of consciousness and how it is specific to me.

    So, if there is indeed an infinite number of 'me' out there, then when this me dies, I will be born again and live exactly the same life as before? If this me dies, will my consciousness immediately 'jump to another me that is not dead' at some other place in an infinite universe? Therefore, is my consciousness connected to the other 'me' in an infinite universe through distance, or time? Therefore, I never die, I merely shift first person perspective from one me to another at different locations in an infinite universe? Therefore, is consciousness a property of space-time itself? Is consciousness a law like gravity?

    Any thoughts?
  • leo
    206
    You could have an infinite universe that contains a finite number of living beings, an infinite universe where there are only living beings in our galaxy, an infinite universe without life.

    For instance there could be a finite number of galaxies in a finite volume, and beyond that volume there could be only light traveling to infinity.

    Anything is possible.
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out thereJohnLocke

    This is one of the reasons the universe is not infinite; the consequences are too bizarre. It also leads to the measure paradox - everything happens an infinite number of time no matter how unlikely so everything is in a sense everything is equally likely in a infinite universe:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_problem_(cosmology)

    So, if there is indeed an infinite number of 'me' out there, then when this me dies, I will be born again and live exactly the same life as before? If this me dies, will my consciousness immediately 'jump to another me that is not dead' at some other place in an infinite universe?JohnLocke

    There is a sort of similar idea with quantum immortality:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide_and_immortality

    If topology of time is circular, we could all end up living the same lives:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_return#Friedrich_Nietzsche
  • fishfry
    542
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there.JohnLocke

    But that's not true. The sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... is infinite, but 3 only occurs once and never again.

    A more sophisticated version of the argument, that a bounded region of space can only accommodate finitely many states, still fails. The states could be 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ... in which case SOME state recurs, but not necessarily the one representing you.

    In short, this "in an infinite universe everything must happen infinitely many times" is simply an Internet meme that does not stand up to scientific analysis.
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    I think it works as he says from a probability perspective. If there is a non-zero probability of an event, then with infinite time, that event must occur an infinite number of times.

    I think it is a good counter example but numbers are different from events or people - numbers are always distinct from each other - people or events have a (very small) chance of being identical.
  • Frank Apisa
    487
    JohnLocke
    10
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there.
    JohnLocke

    That does not necessarily follow.

    I am not saying it is wrong...but you assert it as a conclusion.

    Let's hear the P1 and P2 that gets you to:

    Therefore there is an infinite number of "me" out there.
  • RBS
    40
    This is one of the reasons the universe is not infinite;Devans99

    How do you define infinite?
  • SophistiCat
    724
    You chose an extremely unfortunate framing for your topic. For one thing, it falls victim to Cunningham's Law: as you can see, everyone who responds to your post focuses on its most obviously wrong or controversial aspect (no need to restate what that is). Plus, it's ostensibly about infinity, so a certain obsessive moron is going to have a field day (or more, depending on how long this thread floats on the front page).

    But the more philosophically interesting and problematic issue with your OP has nothing to do with its physical premise. Rather, it is the unstated and unexamined assumption that personal identity supervenes on nothing other than the person's instantaneous physical substrate. At first glance, that might seem like a required assumption for a physicalist or a monist, but things aren't as straightforward as that. Consider forgery, for instance. Is there any difference between an original painting and a perfect replica? Or between a government-issued banknote and a perfectly executed fake? Chances are that, whatever your metaphysical commitments, you would still say that a replica is a replica and a forged note is a forged note - they are not even equivalent to the original, let alone being one and the same with the original.

    That's because authenticity - and thus identity - of a painting or a banknote is more than its instantaneous physical properties; it is also its diachronic properties - its provenance (at least that's one possible interpretation). So why should we blithely assume that the sufficient conditions for being a particular person is having a particular physical composition associated with that person and nothing else? Note, I am not even denying this premise, I am just pointing out that it cannot be assumed without argument or even mention.

    My advice to you is to shift focus away from the questionable framing, which is just plausible enough to distract people from the philosophical meat of the question. Consider how your predecessors have handled the matter. For example, you may want to look into the prodigious literature on Davidson's Swampman or various teleportation/replication thought experiments.
  • whollyrolling
    229


    If the universe is infinite, then you've never existed in any of an infinite number of realities while simultaneously existing in all of them. You've also died in every reality while simultaneously living forever in all of them. If the universe is infinite, then consciousness is everything and nothing simultaneously and either way doesn't factor into anything.

    It is the finite nature of the universe, specifically living organisms, that makes consciousness what it is.
  • fishfry
    542
    If the universe is infinite, then you've never existed in any of an infinite number of realities while simultaneously existing in all of them.whollyrolling

    Are you confusing the idea of the multiverse with the idea of a spatially and/or temporally infinite universe?

    In any event there's only one reality, whether it's finite or infinite or whether it's a multiverse. What is is what is. That's reality.
  • whollyrolling
    229


    I'm referring to the OP's model and wording.
  • fishfry
    542
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there. Therefore, I am immortal and I shall never die in one sense, as there will always be another 'me' born again, and so the cycle repeats itself an infinite number of times. Therefore, what is consciousness?JohnLocke

    Oh I see. Once you get past the bit about the infinite number of you's, the question is really about the transporter problem A Star Trek-like transporter analyzes your body and transmits the information to the receiving unit, which reconstitutes you molecule-by-molecule. Or atom by atom, quark by quark. If we are physicalists then there's some level of organization at which a perfect duplicate of a conscious being would be conscious. The question is, whose consciousness.

    I'm of the opinion that it's "one soul per clone." So if there's a person X and they are cloned to X', then at that moment there are two distinct and independent minds. At the moment of cloning they have the exact same experience so they feel like the same person. Then their experience begins to diverge and they live two different life experiences. But there are two minds, two souls, two people.

    My mental picture of this is the way process-based computer operating systems work, like Unix or any of its variants. An executing program is called a process. A process can "fork" itself, which means that the process makes a perfect copy of itself. But from that point forward, the two processes are independent of one another. From the point of view of the operating system they're just two processes, even if their code is the same and their data was the same up to the moment of forking.

    Now computer processes don't have minds. But I think of human cloning the exact same way. Say Scotty had a non-destructive sending unit. So you get beamed down to the planet AND you are still alive on the Enterprise. At that instant there is a new mind created, and the two of "you" are independent people from now on. As to which is "you," well they would both remember being you and they'd both think they're you. It's a bit confusing but I don't think there's another sensible way to think about it. When you die you're dead, but your memories and experiences live in your clone. Whether you consider that the same person or not is up to you I suppose. But in the instance of non-destructive cloning, there's no alternative to accepting that there are now two separate people.
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    Plus, it's ostensibly about infinity, so a certain obsessive moron is going to have a field day (or more, depending on how long this thread floats on the front page).SophistiCat

    I think a bit of respect for other people's viewpoints is in order. Finitism is a perfectly respectable standpoint:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finitism
  • Banno
    5.1k
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there.JohnLocke

    An infinite sequence need not contain every possible permutation. So "101010101010101..." need never contain "...111...".
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    An infinite sequence need not contain every possible permutation. So "101010101010101..." need never contain "...111...".Banno

    But the universe is random; it is not in perfect order like '1010101010', its random like '100011100101110'. So go on long enough, any bit sequence is guaranteed to reoccur.
  • Banno
    5.1k
    Sure. Your conclusion was shown to be wrong by Cantor. But hey, that never stops you.
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    So Cantor proved the universe was homogeneous?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    Is the universe independent of time? If not, then the universe is finite
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    If the universe is infinite, that would mean there is an infinite number of 'me' out there. — JohnLocke

    That would only be true if you were infinite. The universe being infinite would only mean its properties are inexhaustible.




    Yes...
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    That would only be true if you were infinite. The universe being infinite would only mean its properties are inexhaustible.Merkwurdichliebe

    But each part of the universe is an arrangement of atoms. Are you saying it is impossible for two parts of the universe to have the same arrangement of atoms?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    Is the universe independent of time? If not, then the universe is finite — Merkwurdichliebe

    Permit me to experiment with time as concept. Time, regardless of the past and future, only operates within the present as the moment. Time as it is subjectively experienced, is something like being carried along on a continuum, of what in the moment holds infinite possibility (and epistemologically, absolute uncertainty). Yet, the moment is instantaneous. All that is real is the instant, for there is no succession of instances, it is omnipresent. No existing human has any reality beyond that instance.

    Now, suppose I consider the succession of moments. This removes me from a direct relation to the instance, and into a reflection on the past, or a deliberation on the future - which in the strict sense is a historical account or speculation, respectively. Every moment, nothing exists beyond the immediate instant, and in the instant possibility is negated, and without possibility the universe is finite.

    Anyway

    It is possible that the finite nature of the universe is what makes it objective, and allows humanity to obtain scientific knowledge, but that's just speculation.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290


    No, in time the possibility is there, but this instant, I don't see it happening.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290


    The question is, what arrangement of atoms are present this instant?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290
    We also must consider whether or not, or how, subjectivity might be affected by such a horrifying phenomenon as multiple Merkwurdichliebes existing across all space and time.
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    I agree that the universe is finite. But if it was infinite, the this applies time wise:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poincaré_recurrence_theorem

    But you can think of two blocks of space as equivalent to 'now' and 'then' - space is equivalent to spacetime as far as the Poincaré recurrence theorem.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290


    I never heard of that, thanks for the lead

    I must say that bears well for eternal return, in the metaphysics sense. And I am a lover of fate, so I'm all for it.

    But it offers us no help concerning whether or not multiple Devans99s can exist sinultaneous across space and time, it only suggest you exist again in every detail. And if that is the case, how important is every moment, how precious is the instant?
  • Devans99
    1.5k
    I must say that bears well for eternal return, in the metaphysics sense. And I am a lover of fate, so I'm all for it.Merkwurdichliebe

    I have a suspicion that eternal return could be true but for a different reason. I think eternalism maybe true and time could be circular. So we could all end up living the same lives again and again.

    But it offers us no help concerning whether or not multiple Devans99s can exist sinultaneous across space and time, it only suggest you exist again in every detail. And if that is the case how important is every moment, how precious is the instant?Merkwurdichliebe

    I think it would be an identical me but a different instance of me. So not an answer to eternal life in the way that circular time would be.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    290


    Personally, I'm not a big fan of the doppelganger theory, I feel it devalues the worth of individual responsibility. But that is treading into the ethical
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