X-Message-Number: 15140
From: "Brook and Helen" <>
Subject: Re: Psychological Survival & Values; and the non-survival hypothesis
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 22:32:48 -0800

In Message #15128, Mike Perry and Bob Ettinger trade exchanges on the
characteristics that each think is important to survival.  Perry (who's book
I am currently enjoying) says that if Ettinger does not highly value
memories then perhaps another survival criterion is appropriate for
Ettinger. To quote, Perry says "This is because basically (as far as I can
see) you don't value your memories. So for you another theory of survival
will seem right than for me."

But there is another view of survival that nicely covers all of the
hypotheticals that both Perry and Ettinger raise.  That other view is that
survival, in a strict, unambiguous description of how an entity continues
through time, is simply impossible to define and survival is impossible to
realize in the real world.  Any definition of survival can be shown to be
inadequate through the use of appropriate thought experiments.  Copied
people, split and merged identities, identities that are discontinuous in
time, etc., all form a set of inconsistent, irreconcilable thought
experiments that indicate that survival is undefinable, and in fact I
propose (though I'm sure not the first to do so), nonexistent.

It is very simple and straightforward to suggest that all things in the
universe, including conscious entities change over time.  Some changes are
gradual, others very rapid.  Period.  There is no reason to hypothesize that
entities possess a special "identity" that "survives".  The survival
hypothesis is a further complication that yields no more accurate
experimental results than does the non-survival hypothesis.

If you accept the non-survival hypothesis as probable, then thought
experiments with copied persons, many-worlds, etc are all consistent in that
they can all be explained as a state at time t1 changing into a new state at
time t2. Period.  No gnashing over whether someone "survived" from t1 to t2,
just the acknowledgment that they changed.

The non-survival hypothesis implies a very different approach to cryonics
and the pursuit of happiness.  A discussion of these points was in one of my
CryoNet messages a few months ago.  That discussion touched on the fact that
we have evolved with the concept of survival because it is an effective way
for our genes to be continued through generations.  But I'll cut that
discussion short here without further explanation.

Brook Norton

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