X-Message-Number: 14172
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 16:13:30 EDT
Subject: survival summary

A brief summary of my current view of the problem of survival criteria, 
before (I hope) giving this topic a good long rest:

I see three possibilities.

1. The central self is a subsystem of the brain that I call the self circuit, 
possibly something like a standing wave. The modulations of the wave 
constitute our qualia. (They don't "represent" the qualia; they ARE the 

The self circuit binds time and space, at any "moment" covering a non-zero 
region of time and of space. Hence "you" and your immediate future continuer 
overlap. Through the succession of overlaps you are connected, albeit with 
increasing attenuation, to your more distant future continuers. This picture 
allows a rational value system.

2. The "quantitative" view of identity is superficially easy to understand 
and accept. It simply says there is no such thing as "identity"-only KINDS 
and DEGREES of identity or similarity. Two different physical systems at 
different locations (in time or space) share certain features to a certain 
degree, and that is all there is to it. 

 The attraction of this view is that it seems (at first) to be simple and 
reasonable, perfectly straightforward. But it does not appear to lend itself 
to construction of a rational value system. Pushed to its logical conclusion, 
it leads to something like some Oriental philosophies in which all people 
share in each others' identities. After all, everyone has some of your 
features, so everyone must be partly you, and you must be partly they. (Other 
animals too; you may be reincarnated as a cockroach.) This view COULD 
conceivably be an eventual winner, especially with the help of quantum 
entanglement, but it has lots of problems.

3. The eventual answer may be one outside our current vision.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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