X-Message-Number: 11007
Date: Fri, 01 Jan 1999 13:49:21 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Defense of Identity Discussion

Charles Platt, #11003, wrote,

>As always, discussions of identity on CryoNet, while perennially popular,
>are perennially pointless and constitute a distraction from the real

To me these discussions are not "pointless." Among other things, (1) there
is the possibility that I will find reason to revise or refine some of my
own views on the subject (and it is an important subject to me) and (2) in
any case I can learn what others are thinking.

The question can be raised, however, of whether it is appropriate to discuss
matters not directly relating to cryopreservation, storage and/or
resuscitation techniques and policies *here*. What should be the scope of
"what is reasonably relevant to cryonics" that ought to be considered? My
feeling is that other issues besides the more immediate ones, important
though these are, do have relevance and are not entirely out of place.

>We can ALL agree that identity is lost in two of the three
>processes used after death: burial and cremation. 

No argument there.

>We may ALL agree that
>there could be SOME chance of identity being preserved by
>cryopreservation. Therefore, obviously, the #1 task is to refine our
>techniques of cryopreservation as much as possible.

It is the #1 task, but not the only task.

>When we get to the
>point where a brain can be preserved and then resuscitated without
>significant damage, we will FIND OUT whether identity has been preserved,
>which will render subsequent discussions irrelevant.

There is where I beg to differ. If you lose the brain you lose it, but what
is it you "have" if you have the brain? The issue of identity will be with
us as long as we exist. Discussions would not become irrelevant even if we
no longer had to worry at all about losing the physical substrate. I think
we will progress in our understanding of this issue--as in many other
areas--it is not simply an unresolvable conundrum. This understanding will
be important to our future.

>I believe we may be
>about 10 years from achieving this, but the people doing the work are not
>the ones indulging in philosophical debates on CryoNet. 

It's wonderful that there are "people doing the work" on reversible
suspended animation. But not all of us are in that category, nor would it be
best for us to try to be, given our backgrounds and occupations, the
competent talent that is already committed, and the limited resources
available for the effort. The discussion of identity is at least relevant to
the question of the value of what the good people at 21CM are trying to
accomplish. I'd like to see it continue, in reasonable balance with other

Mike Perry

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