energy in your hair

But if you think about where the anti-abortionists stand on all of this, the sanctity of life by their logic is determined by the coexistence of the soul with the body in a sort of "continuum." Conveniently, the "soul" coexists with the "body" (i.e. cluster of cells attached to the wall of a uterus) at the exact moment of conception--the soul does not pre-exist its host body--but is somehow "immortal" from the moment of conception onward, and at the same time not reliant on the host body for its existence post-death.

Yes, such absolutists always condemn themselves to endless circular reasoning and bizarre contradiction, then seeking to escape such deadlocks by simply moving the goal-posts yet again: if the soul is itself immortally 'born' at conception (though how a soul's emergent metaphysical, noumenal existence could be contingent on the material environment without being a part of, immanent to that material environment is never even addressed) and therefore not dependent in any way on the 'host-body' post-conception for its continued immortality, then, again, what happens the foetus/body post-conception becomes unimportant. Of course, when faced with this dilemma, they simply move/displace their 'argument' once again: no, the soul is not 'fully' immortal at conception, but only becomes so at birth! Hilarious, this latter 'argument' is even more contingent: the 'soul' takes time to develop its immortal powers, the same precious 9-month length of time as that of pregnancy itself! Alternatively, why do anti-abortionists oppose biogenetic cloning with sentimentally superstitious appeals to the 'unfathomable mystery of the conception' as if by cloning their physical bodies they are simultaneously cloning their immortal souls?

All of this spurious, hysterical form of argument has nothing to do with reasoning at all, but ultimately simply another version of the Kantian categorical imperative and an empty appeal to a supernatural authority: the soul is immortal because it must be! [and because God says so, etc], the negative corollory of which leads to absolute moral injunctions. "You must not ever have an abortion because you should not" etc.

Returning, then, to the human cloning issue and those who oppose it (both immortal soul fantasists and humanists alike), the argument is usually that it should not be allowed because it would involve the reduction of a human being to an entity whose psychic properties can be manipulated. If biogenetics reduces humans to objects open to manipulation, then Nature, human and inhuman, is 'desubstantialised', its 'impenetrable density' (similar to what Heidegger called 'earth') is fatally undermined. Nature itself is therefore lost. This clearly also eviserates the humanist position, the belief that man is at the centre of the universe and that humanity relies on the belief that we possess an inherited 'human nature', that we are spirited into the world with an unfathomable dimension of ourselves (rather than this being a structural effect of the social construction of the ego during infancy). It seems, therefore, that both soul-supernaturalists and (even atheistic) humanists invoke Wittgenstein's mantra whenever the precious inner human self is threatened: 'Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.' In other words, they want to assert that we must not ever engage in cloning, because otherwise we may indeed do it, with - somehow unspecified - catastrophic psychological and ethical results. If the humanist, Christian and other opponents of cloning believe in the immortality of the soul or in the holistic uniqueness of the mystical personality - i.e. that I am not just the arbitrarily contingent result of the immanent, seething interaction between my genetic code and my environment - then why do they all insist on opposing cloning? Is it the implication, the secret, dreaded possibility that they do in fact believe - but, as with all other contemporary beliefs, in the form of a disavowal - in the ability of genetics to reach the very hard kernal of our posited 'personality', the last bastion of the Ego and pure, solipsistic subjectivity?

Of course, the real problem with cloning is ideological: social power and the cloning agenda resides in the hands of capitalist multinationals and wealthy elites, and so it needs to be controlled to prevent further class warfare and social exclusion and antagonism. Much like everything else under late capital.

If you're going to believe in souls, I suppose Hinduism makes slightly more sense, in that it doesn't posit a pseudo-"immortality" where the transcendental stuff of life is somehow also reliant on material/physical beings for its very existence. For Hindus souls just keep being reembodied in a cycle that presumably extends infinitely backward to "creation" and forward to nirvana or karmic fulfillment...

How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana, and how did this fallen nomadic soul lose it in the first place :cool: ??
 

zhao

there are no accidents
How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana

i believe that depends on the choices each one makes during each of its chances to climb higher up the consciousness ladder. (or fall even lower as the case may be)
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
the first time i did acid (age 15), i could not figure out why exactly the chair i was melting into was not a part of me. i touched my arm, and touched the arm-rest, and was really puzzled (for what seemed like centuries) by why one was a part of "me" and the other wasn't.

atoms are constantly being "traded" between everything, which leads to the completely recycle in a human body in about 7 years -- that's what i meant by the fluidity and interexchangeability of everything, and that the separateness and isolation of entities existing apart from other entities is an illusion.

This is why I think acid is a far superior psychedelic experience than some organic compounds (like psilocybin/peyote/mescaline) because on those I mostly *see* everything melting rather than feeling it in the way you describe. That really is what you can feel on acid, your own energy rubbing up on everything else and all those "vibes" flowing, man. Yeah.

As for atoms being "traded", I think it's more correct to say that particles are traded, or at least that atoms' particles are excited by the excitement (heat) of other atoms' particles. You don't "lose" your atoms to the chair as much as your energy gets transferred to the chair.

What you feel on psychedelics is the "dynamism" of physical existence, and it's wonderful.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
If the humanist, Christian and other opponents of cloning believe in the immortality of the soul or in the holistic uniqueness of the mystical personality - i.e. that I am not just the arbitrarily contingent result of the immanent, seething interaction between my genetic code and my environment - then why do they all insist on opposing cloning? Is it the implication, the secret, dreaded possibility that they do in fact believe - but, as with all other contemporary beliefs, in the form of a disavowal - in the ability of genetics to reach the very hard kernal of our posited 'personality', the last bastion of the Ego and pure, solipsistic subjectivity?

Of course, the real problem with cloning is ideological: social power and the cloning agenda resides in the hands of capitalist multinationals and wealthy elites, and so it needs to be controlled to prevent further class warfare and social exclusion and antagonism. Much like everything else under late capital.

Exactly. This is why the same people who condemn cloning humans at the same time have no problem paying Big Biotech their hard-earned money to clone their deceased pets?

These are often the same people who vote for the policy makers who put hundreds of black and hispanic men on death row every year.

How many hundred million hypertext markup lifetimes does a soul require for nirvana, and how did this fallen nomadic soul lose it in the first place :cool: ??

Heh. Who is God's father?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
The quantum copy in your example is qualitatively identical but not numerically identical to the original, it is not the same thing. It's not the soul or otherwise that makes two things different.

The twins thing isn't really applicable here as no pair of twins are EXACTLY identical (or, at the atomic level, even approximately identical). I state my case above on the basis that the identity between two systems described by identical wave-functions goes far above and beyond any normal definition of 'identical'. And in the case of quantum teleportation, the two things were are considering are the object (or person) pre-teleportation and the object post-teleportation, somewhere else; NOT the teleported object and the unteleported object which is still there, since only one instance of it exists at any time.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"The twins thing isn't really applicable here as no pair of twins are EXACTLY identical (or, at the atomic level, even approximately identical). I state my case above on the basis that the identity between two systems described by identical wave-functions goes far above and beyond any normal definition of 'identical'."
No you're still missing the point, the twins are used a hypothetical example in a thought experiment where you are supposed to imagine that they are as identical as in the teleported example. The point is that even if things are utterly identical they are still not numerically identical.

"And in the case of quantum teleportation, the two things were are considering are the object (or person) pre-teleportation and the object post-teleportation, somewhere else; NOT the teleported object and the unteleported object which is still there, since only one instance of it exists at any time."
Well, not really, you described the teleported object as a quantum copy and thus it matters not whether the original object is still there, the teleported object is not the same thing, just something that is qualitatively identical...

....unless that is you can find some other argument to say that they are identical. I think that the only way you can argue it is the same thing (ie numerically identical) is to say that there is some kind of spirit or whatever that is a result of and inhabits those identical structures and that is somehow passed from the original to the qualitatively identical but identically different bodies during the act of teleportation. You would also need to say how it was passed.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
If you substitute 'consciousness' for 'spirit', I think that's probably fairly close to what I mean; I think consciousness arises as a sort of emergent phenomenon from electro-chemical activity in the brain - which, like all physical processes, is ultimately quantum-mechanical in nature, in other words all information that can possibly be derived from it can be encoded in a non-observable mathematical object called a wave function - so that this wave function essentially embodies the identity of the system it describes. In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon. Scaling this up from single particles to big lumps of matter like a human body, including of course the brain and the various consciousness-originating processes therein, I think consciousness would be transmitted along with the wave function. The particles that are so arranged to take on your body's (and mind's) wave function become you.
 
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N

nomadologist

Guest
If you substitute 'consciousness' or 'spirit', I think that's probably fairly close to what I mean; I think consciousness arises as a sort of emergent phenomenon from electro-chemical activity in the brain - which, like all physical processes, is ultimately quantum-mechanical in nature, in other words all information that can possibly be derived from it can be encoded in a non-observable mathematical object called a wave function - so that this wave function essentially embodies the identity of the system it describes. In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon. Scaling this up from single particles to big lumps of matter like a human body, including of course the brain and various the consciousness-originating processes therein, and I think consciousness would be transmitted along with the wave function. The particles that are so arranged to take on your body's (and mind's) wave function become you.

This sounds right...emergent properties are everywhere in 'nature' ...
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"In experiements people have done using photons, the photon which receives the information taken from the 'sender' photon (which loses that information as a result) in a very real sense *becomes* the original photon."
This is the important bit then. I think that if you can (using clumsy words and assuming that there is an essence or spirit or whatever), "copy" the body and "transfer" the "spirit" to that copy then you are on to something.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address.
 
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N

nomadologist

Guest
Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as a data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address.

Exactly. People seem to think of computers and similar technologies as "more efficient" than humans, or somehow cold and inhuman, when in fact the way computers and computing machines work is remarkably similar to the way the human mind-body or machine or whatever you want to call it works.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"Well yeah, I think in a way it's a bit like the software and hardware of a computer (remember when we were talking about 'brain transplants' re. phone SIM cards the other day?), in that I can sit down at any of fifty-odd PCs in the Linux cluster I have a login on, enter my username and password and that PC 'becomes' *my* PC, with all my data, settings, preferences, browser history and everything. The information has been send to it from a central server; the 'ghost' has been transferred to a new 'machine'. So I think consciousness, identity, spirit or whatever you want to call it is not a 'thing' or a 'stuff' that has any independent existence; it's a pattern, just as data exists as a pattern of bits on a sector of a hard disk or in a memory address."
I still think the point is that if you transfer the "ghost" it's distinct from copying the ghost. The only thing is that you are saying that copying on a minute scale by quantum teleportation IS transferring.
In other words, although consciousness may not (in fact surely can't) be something with an independent existence, just copying it is not enough, there has to be continuity to make any claim that it is the same thing. I reckon continuity is important here isn't it?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I still think the point is that if you transfer the "ghost" it's distinct from copying the ghost. The only thing is that you are saying that copying on a minute scale by quantum teleportation IS transferring.
In other words, although consciousness may not (in fact surely can't) be something with an independent existence, just copying it is not enough, there has to be continuity to make any claim that it is the same thing. I reckon continuity is important here isn't it?
There would be continuity, I think, because this kind of teleportation relies on a quantum-mechanical phenomenon called entanglement, whereby a pair of particles that can be separated by any distance are described by a single wave function, and have to be considered to form a single system. It's like sending a fax (with the added lemma that the original must somehow be destoyed in the process), it's more like the information is 'extracted' from the 'original' (so that it is no longer there) and transmitted, via entanglement, to some new particles which take on the properties of the old. So if it took a while for all your particles to be transmitted, you would in a sense be partly in one place and partly in another halfway until the transmission was completed.

Exactly. People seem to think of computers and similar technologies as "more efficient" than humans, or somehow cold and inhuman, when in fact the way computers and computing machines work is remarkably similar to the way the human mind-body or machine or whatever you want to call it works.
I was under the impression we still knew far too little about how the mind/brain works to make pronouncements like that. Is there really any evidence the brain is a 'bio-Turing machine'?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"There would be continuity"
Well yes it sounds as though there could be in what you're describing, I was agreeing with you (in that last bit at least).
Not sure a fax is a good example though is it, no-one would say that a faxed copy is the original.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
I was under the impression we still knew far too little about how the mind/brain works to make pronouncements like that. Is there really any evidence the brain is a 'bio-Turing machine'?

Maybe, maybe not. It's not easy to say "definitively", but it sure does make sense. Thoughts are electrical signals similar to the ones the internet uses, routed by the brain in the same way routers send signals from server to server. There are obvious parallels.

If you study cognitive science, there's the "weights and balances" model that ends up seeming a lot like a bio-Turing machine even though it was proposed for the opposite reason...like the switches from 1 to 0 changing until information gets transmitted...
 

turtles

in the sea
As for the whole "what makes an object an object" story, I think what Theseus's Ship shows is that the concept of continuously existing objects breaks down under close scrutiny, and is essentially just a convenient, contingent way of dealing with the world from a perceptual standpoint. Our visual system from a very low level up starts finding edges and then puts them together to form shapes so that by the time they actually make it to conscious perception they're already perceived as being "objects" because that's they way our perceptual system classifies them. But this classification is just a practical functional one, objects are things we can perceive edges between and likely have different properties when we interact with them (which is why it's hard to call a bunch of different gasses different objects). giving a thing a name further cements this concept of them being separate objects. But in the end it's an entirely contingent distinction; nothing, not even humans, has an innate essence that defines it as an object. all objects are mutable.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
There's a crucial difference between a person and a ship, though: a ship doesn't have a sense of self, a sense of its own identity.* The ship is Theseus's ship only in relation to Theseus, and only because conscious beings say it is; outside of this context, it's just a collection of bits of wood that may be more or less similar to any other. But Theseus knows he is Theseus, and even if he changed his name he'd still be the same person, the same entity. If we could chop off his head and somehow keep it alive and conscious, then he would still be alive and conscious - that is, Theseus would still essentially exist - even though most of the matter formerly making up his body had ceased to be part of him. The important thing is, the neurological patterns making up his memories, personality and so on are still in existence in his brain, which is still alive and functioning. Going even further into sci-fi territory, we could still say he exists if his physical body were destroyed altogether, as long as his neural patterns were transfered into some suitable cybernetic vessel. See Dave Bowman's 'presence' in 2010 and, er, Rimmer's hologram in Red Dwarf. :)







*whenever you're asked to 'identify yourself', do you have the urge to sort of inspect yourself for a moment, perhaps look in your wallet, and then reply "Yep, I'm definitely me!"? :cool:
 
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turtles

in the sea
There's a crucial difference between a person and a ship, though: a ship doesn't have a sense of self, a self of its own identity.* The ship is Theseus's ship only in relation to Theseus, and only because conscious beings say it is; outside of this context, it's just a collection of bits of wood that may be more or less similar to any other. But Theseus knows he is Theseus, and even if he changed his name he'd still be the same person, the same entity. If we could chop off his head and somehow keep it alive and conscious, then he would still be alive and conscious - that is, Theseus would still essentially exist - even though most of the matter formerly making up his body had ceased to be part of him. The important thing is, the neurological patterns making up his memories, personality and so on are still in existence in his brain, which is still alive and functioning. Going even further into sci-fi territory, we could still say he exists if his physical body were destroyed altogether, as long as his neural patterns were transfered into some suitable cybernetic vessel. See Dave Bowman's 'presence' in 2010 and, er, Rimmer's hologram in Red Dwarf. :)

You do the same thing to yourself as to the ship though, you define a set of functionally related and physically collocated things an identity as a coherent object because it's conceptually useful and efficient, and then basically ignore/gloss over the constant change that is going on underneath and the overall lack of unity of the thing you are grouping together as a coherent whole. One way of looking at consciousness is essentially as an illusion created by considering oneself to be a coherent, consistent, persisting whole. Remember I was discussing the classification of objects as occurring largely non-consciously, which makes consciousness-as-just-another-illusory-object make perfect sense as an extension of that same basic perceptual process.

Is a person with complete retrograde amnesia the same person as before? Yes and no--it's a blurry concept. Are we the same person we were as a two-year old, even if we have no memory whatsoever of the time? I'm really not the same person i was when i was 8 years old, that's for sure. If I went to sleep and someone made an exact copy of me, let us both sleep for a while, then killed the original, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference then if they had killed the clone.

Also (and back in reality) there are a bunch of psychological experiments wherein people are made to feel like parts of their body aren't actually a part of their body, or that other things that definitely aren't part of their body are actually a part of their body. Like this.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"As for the whole "what makes an object an object" story, I think what Theseus's Ship shows is that the concept of continuously existing objects breaks down under close scrutiny, and is essentially just a convenient, contingent way of dealing with the world from a perceptual standpoint. Our visual system from a very low level up starts finding edges and then puts them together to form shapes so that by the time they actually make it to conscious perception they're already perceived as being "objects" because that's they way our perceptual system classifies them. But this classification is just a practical functional one, objects are things we can perceive edges between and likely have different properties when we interact with them (which is why it's hard to call a bunch of different gasses different objects). giving a thing a name further cements this concept of them being separate objects. But in the end it's an entirely contingent distinction; nothing, not even humans, has an innate essence that defines it as an object. all objects are mutable."
That seems very simplistic to me. Just because things are physically mutable it doesn't necessarily follow that nothing has an innate essence. I mean, it may be the case but the fact that the atoms or whatever change is not enough to demonstrate that on its own.
 
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