X-Message-Number: 14240
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2000 09:00:17 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: more on identity

Hi everyone!

I have finished the latest PERIASTRON and mailed it off today. So now I
have come back to Cryonet.

1. I know that I'm probably reading messages which came out before I
   put in my own 2 cents on identity, but here are some further comments.
   Yes, identity is important, and means to preserve it lie underneath
   and motivate our desire for suspension in the first place. (The
   technology used won't last forever, even if it provably works ...
   there will be other better means to follow, but the desire to maintain
   our identity will not go away so long as we remain human beings. I
   would even say the same of Indian philosophers: they may have a "nice"
   theory about how everyone is the same as everyone else (a brief and
   inaccurate summary), but I still doubt that they would happily die
   so long as there existed any means to prevent it).

2. The "quantitative view of identity" is a good idea, and we have no 
   problem (or should have no problem) with the notion that there are
   an infinity of stages and means of comparison by which we are "not
   the same" ie. differences exist at every level.

   However there is a different problem. Some things about ourselves
   we are indifferent to: the exact position of our big toe doesn't usually
   excite many people. Other things (which differ with the person) we
   consider, at any given time, to be essential. And still other things
   we may actually want to remove, even some things about our personality.

   So there is an element of VALUE in just how we compare ourselves
   with others, and that value cannot be removed from any consideration
   of identity. We want to maintain only a subset of all of our attributes.
   That this subset may change doesn't matter here: it always exists.

   Moreover, in practical terms, it's very unlikely that we'll ever
   have technological means to preserve EVERYTHING literally abo
   ourselves... if that's really what we want to do in the first place.

3. The Western idea of self may have its defects, but any advance on
   it is unlikely to be simply an adoption of any known viewpoint,
   Eastern, Western, or whatnot. 

   As for dealing with the defects, it's clear that no one is truly
   autonomous. It may prove more useful to distinguish between the kinds
   of influences which can affect or change our sense of self and our
   desires. Anyone who points a gun at us and asks us to adopt a 
   new religion, and keeps that up long enough, will no doubt succeed
   in getting us to adopt that new religion exactly as he/she demands.
   But no one would say that such an influence really SHOULD (even if
   it does) change our sense of self. On the opposite side, if someone
   decides to go off and think over what he/she wants to be, without
   any direct (there's always indirect) influence by anyone or any
   other institution, then few people would think that any changes 
   came from outside. Yes, these are extremes, and the really interesting
   questions come in the middle between them. 

   Decision on these middle questions again is likely to involve VALUES.
   We live now in a world with an increasing number of democracies, of
   different shapes and forms. Just what a government should force or
   help its citizens to do differs between them. So how do they rank
   in "freedom", and what is "freedom" when comparing such different
   governments? At some level it may simply become wise to accept
   different values.

3. "Survival is not eternal return". An interesting statement. I would
   hardly WANT eternal return, but then there are other problems with
   that notion. Suppose that I found myself in a situation in which
   I must have a kind of eternal return (for a while) because in my
   case it is the only available version of survival. And I also had
   a well founded hope that the "eternal" return would not really go
   on forever... though I had no good idea as to why. So who would
   choose that alternative and who would not?

   Some who chose it would not worry. Others may still wonder just
   how to escape it. When we consider cryonic suspension, in a 
   certain sense we HAVE CHOSEN a form of "eternal return": we're
   in a special state which will continue indefinitely, in the hope
   that OTHERS will work out how to take us out of that state. WE
   are most certainly not the ones who will find out how to take
   OURSELVES out. So are we surviving or not when we go into cryonic

Just a few comments on postings on Cryonet. 

			Best wishes and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

PS: nothing about identity directly in the newest PERIASTRON, but
then memory and identity are closely allied.

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