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Old 10-29-2010, 04:46 PM   #441
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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How is that belief different from how other religions say the soul interacts with the substantial world?
Before whswhs' long post, I would say that in the nuance that souls do not follow the standard definition of, say, minds, by not needing a medium. But after the post, I no longer have the vaguest idea what a soul is.
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:48 PM   #442
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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The laws of physics don't influence the planets at all. The laws of physics are propositions that make up part of the theoretical and conceptual structure of the science of physics, which exists in human minds and in informational media created by human beings such as books and computer files. Human minds do not have the power to control the orbits of the planets.

If I wrote a computer program to emulate planetary orbits, I would need to put (some form of) the laws of physics into it, in order to tell it how to do the calculations needed to update the positions and velocities of the planets. The files that describe the planets have no causal power on their own.

But that's not true of the actual planets. The planets themselves create gravitational fields, and respond to the solar gravitational field and each other's gravitational fields. The planets are not sapient, or even sentient, and cannot know or calculate their own physical interactions; they just act and interact in accord with their physical natures and states. And there are no planetary intelligences guiding them to do so, and no cosmic computer running the solar system through successive orbits. Things just happen as they happen. The orbits are calculable because things have determinate natures and can only act according to those natures; the calculations describe the resulting action but do not control it.

That is, the planets don't need some outside agency or force to make them move on specific orbits. They have specific masses, forms, positions, and velocities. Being what they are, they must do what they do. It's a necessity of their own natures, and not of some external force or will.

Bill Stoddard
I agree with you more than seems to be apparent. But as I said, it is hard for me to explain, even in my own language. Consider me irrational, or philosophically uneducated, or whatever.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:14 PM   #443
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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I agree with you more than seems to be apparent. But as I said, it is hard for me to explain, even in my own language. Consider me irrational, or philosophically uneducated, or whatever.
A transhumanist belief in mind is religious, a belief that a snapshot of the information in the brain created an entity you call a mind which has volition.

We could change that to:

A faithful belief in soul is religious, a belief that when a life ends the information in the brain creates an entity you call a soul which has volition.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:22 PM   #444
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Before whswhs' long post, I would say that in the nuance that souls do not follow the standard definition of, say, minds, by not needing a medium. But after the post, I no longer have the vaguest idea what a soul is.
No one ever had any idea what a soul is. The soul is inaccessible to the senses and to science. (Though archaic ideas of it treat it either as the invisible medium of breath, or as the intangible medium of the shadow, the reflection, or other images.) The soul is "the medium in which thoughts and memories are stored" (or, as Descartes called it, "a thinking substance") . . . because no one could imagine how thoughts and memories could be stored in matter. So they just postulated "a something that contains thought, about which we can know nothing else."

As we develop computers that can emulate language, perception, self-awareness, and other "mental" functions, it will get less and less convincing that there is a mysterious invisible inner essence in human beings.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:32 PM   #445
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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...
As we develop computers that can emulate language, perception, self-awareness, and other "mental" functions, it will get less and less convincing that there is a mysterious invisible inner essence in human beings.

Bill Stoddard
Science has an uphill battle against magical thinking. Usually it just changes what is believed magic.
The soul will become that which makes a person whose genes say he has an X percent chance of Y not get Y. We may call it chance and unknown variables. Others will call it a guardian angel.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:02 AM   #446
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Third parties maybe, but there are things that are pretty unique. Brains have more places for unique markers than fingerprints, no?
But you argue that identity depends on the mind, not the brain.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:07 AM   #447
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But you argue that identity depends on the mind, not the brain.
And minds depend on brains. So of brains have unique markers, they leave a 'footprint' on a mind too.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:37 AM   #448
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And minds depend on brains. So of brains have unique markers, they leave a 'footprint' on a mind too.
Haven't you just changed your criterion, from "overall similarity of information content" to "similarity with respect to certain critical identifying information"? They aren't necessarily the same.

And I'd also note that the question of "similarity as seen by who?" arises. On one hand, the precise bits that most distinctively fingerprinted the identity of a specific brain might be bits that were of no importance to the person whose brain it was, or even inaccessible to them. On the other hand, the bits that made you feel like you, and that, if changed, would make you no longer feel like you, could be bits that are the same, or close to it, in all human brains.

Or what if they weren't? We take your brain, and that of someone in Japan you've never met, and we change those bits in their brain to be yours, and vice versa. And suddenly you wake up and you're in an entirely different body, belonging, say, to a teenage girl in Osaka, and you've completely forgotten nearly all your current memories, and you no longer speak Ukrainian but are fluent in Japanese. But you still feel like you!

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Old 10-30-2010, 03:46 AM   #449
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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Haven't you just changed your criterion, from "overall similarity of information content" to "similarity with respect to certain critical identifying information"? They aren't necessarily the same.

And I'd also note that the question of "similarity as seen by who?" arises. On one hand, the precise bits that most distinctively fingerprinted the identity of a specific brain might be bits that were of no importance to the person whose brain it was, or even inaccessible to them. On the other hand, the bits that made you feel like you, and that, if changed, would make you no longer feel like you, could be bits that are the same, or close to it, in all human brains.

Or what if they weren't? We take your brain, and that of someone in Japan you've never met, and we change those bits in their brain to be yours, and vice versa. And suddenly you wake up and you're in an entirely different body, belonging, say, to a teenage girl in Osaka, and you've completely forgotten nearly all your current memories, and you no longer speak Ukrainian but are fluent in Japanese. But you still feel like you!

Bill Stoddard
That's a very interesting set of questions. It might indeed turn out that person-0y.o. and person-18y.o. have practically nothing in common that they don't have in common with most of humanity. Which, if it is indeed the case, we have to accept as a moderately uncomfortable truth. That's the price of having definitions - sticking to them.
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Old 10-30-2010, 08:48 AM   #450
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Default Re: Ghosts and Mind Copies - The Identity Question

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That's a very interesting set of questions. It might indeed turn out that person-0y.o. and person-18y.o. have practically nothing in common that they don't have in common with most of humanity. Which, if it is indeed the case, we have to accept as a moderately uncomfortable truth. That's the price of having definitions - sticking to them.
person-0y.o has an inherent interest in the welbeing, liberty, and chattels of person-18y.o that supersedes anyone else's interest, if any. It follows that in the earlier pre-crime example punishing person-18y.o is also a punishment against person-0y.o.

It may be useful to contemplate http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homicidal_somnambulism as a legal precedent for treating person-like mindsets that spring from the same human being, but have separate memory tracks and apparently separate wills and decisions after one or both having undergone changes in cognitive content from changes in the medium of mentation. The sleepwalking persona can represent a (short-lived) xox; it's interesting to contemplate if the restored wakeful persona can be considered a xox of the original as well.
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