Friday, August 6, 2010

The teleporter resolved? and more on Spontaneous Lincoln!

Sidebar: Does what we are doing count as philosophy? Since we aren't juxtaposing old timy philosophers and their ideas with our own for the purposes of supporting our ideas? Granted you and I both know we probably would not have the ammunition we do for these conversations if we had not spent the 2 ish years in the major but I think we're loosing street cred (in the world of philosophy) for not having all that 'textual support'. Not that I'm going to provide any in the following account. Just food for thought.

Sidebar2: Forgive me if the first part of this post is a bit repetitive of what we've been discussing for the past few posts but don't fret! towards the middle and end it really picks up steam.

Good points. I'll start with 'artificial'. I like the beaver dam analogy. The ready made synonym for artificial that comes up via google/wiki search is man-made but that is not necessarily helpful because after all isn't birth a type of man-making process. So you're right a more specified definition or a getting rid of the word altogether seems appropriate. Although I think colloquially (as you suggest with the beaver dam analogy) it could be assumed the word artificial seems to refer to things man creates via intellect and skill vs something man creates biologically. It's sort of like Anti-Christ where women represent the chaos of nature (biological functions/beavers? [is that pushing this too far?]) where as man represents logic and order (artificial). Though as teleporter tech becomes readily available to a store near you, we will probably need to get rid of the distinction or outline (as you suggest) detailed specifics. (also as lawyers we're probably going to have to figure out this whole "in stasis resulting from a lack of physical substance" thing for all the contract writing we're gonna be doing)

Now as for our teleporter continuous consciousness argument I'm beginning to feel cornered and this is usually a sign that you're on to something and I'm behaving like a adolescent... but we'll withhold judgment just a little longer.

I think a major opponent to my jumping on board the teleporter bandwagon (as you've hinted at) is that I'm still imagining ourselves having a sort of dualistic relationship between 'mind' and body. Your observations really short circuit any inclination that the consciousness needs to be continuous or rather that using the perfected teleporter would keep the consciousness from being continuous (or phrased differently--Hey! I think I finally get what you are saying and yeah it does seem to make sense). But by admitting this the whole cloning possibility this stuff gets really weird (for me as I know it did for you when it was first posited in this argument [Boy, I can't believe how long its taken me to understand what you were saying]). Supposing you stepped through a faulty teleporter that sent your 'image' to two different exit points (So instead of the traditional cloning scenario where the teleporter doesn't kill you but just creates a duplicate, we now have a situation where your first body does die but instead of one 'other-you' there are two)? What happens when you step out of the teleporter in Japan and in Singapore simultaneously? Where do you end up? If your consciousness is continuous then how do we describe this phenomenon of you arriving in two places at once from one starting place? I'm not sure if this point is clear but it strikes me as unusual. Though I do believe the discussion on identity later on helps clarify what we do with this situation.

I like the blanket statement that we must redefine or leave behind the traditional terms of life and death to understand this concept better. Or rather now that I'm thinking more along the terms of which you have been this whole time... death isn't really a problem at all. If we define death as cell death (that is vital cell death) then this (teleportation) is almost like an augmented (artificial?) form of cell replacement on a large scale (as you have suggested earlier).

Now-- what do we do with the man trapped in limbo? or in stasis? or temporarily dead? Does he still exist? of course the internet exists right...? and its not physical...

Which is why (I think) I'm so interested in socially created identities...

I'm bummed you reject social identity so fully. But then I do love community and you don't so I guess that makes sense...

I think you are wrong to so carelessly suggest that identity is just a mechanism for relating to oneself and I feel ashamed if I gave that impression. Because I think it is as much a social function of defining oneself as it is a personal way to survive effectively. Surviving effectively means being part of social orders (though I think you disagree with this point [sidebar: I've recently heard of this thing the government used to do and still may do that I think you'd be super interested in. Its called homestead homes]). If identity did not also include a historical understanding of oneself then memories would serve no purpose. Personal history is as much a evolutionary trick for survival as feeling hunger or a fear of heights. But it is extended to others as well. You remember who is the king of your village because it behooves you to know who's shoes not to shit on... for survival. I think also it creates the kings identity for himself when he knows that others don't shit on his shoes out of fear.

Perhaps including social in the word identity is asking too much of language and that is fine but I do believe that retaining the social-historical 'memory' of Lincoln is important to his identity, because his identity is relevant to other peoples identities. So, for example, when spontaneously occurring Lincoln appears at Gettysburg and finds lots of tourists and is not a standing group of 1800's people he ceases to be 'real' Lincoln simply because his historical identity is wrapped up in a different time. His own personal identity departs from that of original Lincoln when he finds himself in that situation. For perhaps the remainder of his life he is convinced he is 'real' Lincoln and his life now consists of raving like a lunatic and trying to 'get back to his time' or some such similar B sci-fi movie plot. His identity is shifted and he is shifted.

I agree that pinpointing historical Lincoln's identity would be foolish but similarly you could not identify Lincoln without a historical context in which he existed before.

Now lets clarify some of this nonsense. 1.) identity is a mechanism developed to keep our cells alive. 2.) however, identity is not necessarily a singular phenomenon and in fact is shaped dramatically by our relation to other 'identities'. 3.) Human beings have a habit of maintaning a long historical 'memory' of what past human beings have done and in fact use that memory as a way to help constitute their current identity.

I agree identity has no place if we could talk about people simply as organism unfortunately for science and objectivity (and I think as we will find in Law) it is very difficult to distinguish the organic procedures of the human body and the seeming social behavior. This is why I altered your previous statement as:

"The illusion of mind is theoretically reducible to functions, like complex equations that decide behaviors. Because it is just a complex configuration of neurons firing in certain alternating patterns."

And added:

There is nothing irreducible about man (no soul, no magic, no spirit). Though social concepts like identity may be incredibly difficult to reduce as they are dynamic and not inherently objective (though what is really objective?).

Please tell me if I'm doing that thing I do where I start to blabber nonsense.

So to answer some questions you posed: If we lost all the info about Lincoln, does he exist less? Well, from 'God's' perspective no, but from ours? Absolutely.

"What do you represent? To whom do you represent it? I don't think this branch of your argument gels with the rest. It sounds like you're trying to find an exterior locus of identity in other people, those who know or remember you." Yes.

"Problem of social identity. What do I have to do to encounter the historical Lincoln? If I see his body in the casket, have I "just missed him?" If I witnessed his birth, was he not yet the man he will become?"

I agree with what you are noticing that at different point during his life Lincoln was not the Lincoln we know today. I'm aware this seems fishy. I do not think it is. You seem to be suggesting that my argument for social historical identity is necessarily including the totality of his identity (the total memory of Lincoln as being necessary to understand Lincoln). We don't have that. We don't know Lincoln like his best friend may have and that changes Lincoln for us. This is the product of social historical memory-- we don't know a person like they would have been known if you'd known them personally and after they die you can't know them personally. It is not so bizarre to think that historical Lincoln is different than acutal Lincoln might have been. Isn't baby Jesus' identity radically different from that of Adult Jesus even though theoretically it was the same person?

You may want to argue then, that the historical identity of Lincoln is not Lincoln.

One of our philosophy professors explained once that a dictionary is only really a snapshot of what words are in common usage at a particular period in history. Similarly is our relationship to historical Lincoln only a snapshot of parts of what constituted his identity and probably would not give a person accurate knowledge of the kind of stuff Lincoln actually did on his free time. However, it is the only way in which we relate to Lincoln at all. Essentially what I'm saying is--the real Lincoln, the one who lived and died in the 1800's, he doesn't exist for us, he never did (for us? to us? can something exist for something else? that maybe the worst possible language I could have used there).

The man trapped in cyber limbo--does he exist? He sure does as long as we remember he's in that flash drive.

I believe I've (we've?) stumbled into an argument about whether or not we can have or rather should pretend to have and use a 'God's eye' view of things (completely objectively). Are we trying to circumvent the necessity of our socially constituted biases in our intellectual thought? In order to have intellectual thought?

Intellectual thought? that sounds pretty biased. (Intellectual masturbation? That sounds a little more accurate... though still biased)

"If I see any 5 of the total 17 past members of Scorpions, does society validate the identity of the band?"

Shut up! You are a stupid head! (I'm going to bed mad)

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