X-Message-Number: 18469
Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 14:02:45 EST
Subject: two souls

Many writers, including Tipler, Perry, Moravec, Kurzweil, and Fredkin, have 
adopted the view of the soul as code. Your "soul" is the pattern of 
information that characterizes your essential being, your thoughts and 
actions. It is not mystical, but scientific. Yet it is not material, but 
abstract. It requires a physical instantiation to express or manifest itself, 
but the pattern is merely a relationship which is eternal and indestructible. 
(Inconstructible also? Is there a law of conservation of souls?) 

Not only living creatures, but everything has a soul--or more than one soul, 
depending which aspect of the system you are concerned with. For example, the 
"soul" of a hoola-hoop (or part of its soul, or one of its souls) is a 
circle. Back to Plato.

As it applies to personal identity or survival criteria, this view is 
plausible, but nothing more. It is unproven. I have insisted for many years 
that the essential person is in that part or aspect of the brain or its 
functions giving rise to feeling, allowing subjective experiences or qualia. 
Feeling is the essence; cognition and memory are  secondary. Feeling probably 
requires a specific kind of physical dynamical system binding space and time. 
Its anatomy and physiology are still unknown. It may be possible in silicon 
etc., or it may not. For reasons I have spelled out at length elsewhere, I 
think it unlikely that a digital computer could feel.

I also pointed out long ago that one day we will link our brains to 
computers, to enhance ourselves and solve the problem of runaway intelligent 
computers. Now Yvan Bozzonetti has suggested something I hadn't thought 
of--that the brains of some lower animals are complex enough to support 
computer interfaces, so that--for example--a rat could be made superhuman. So 
this highlights a different view of soul.

If my view is correct, your "soul" is in the feeling part or aspect of your 
brain (the "self circuit"), and so is the soul of the rat. By computer 
linkage, we could say the organic brain has been enhanced--but we could also 
say that the computer has been given a soul.

In a sense, this has already happened. After all, most of your brain is just 
housekeeping, mechanism. Another part is the computer aspect of cognition, 
also just mechanism. Your essential self is still mechanism, in the sense 
that it is a material system obeying the laws of physics, but it is different 
and perhaps unique. Therefore, in a sense, you are already a 
composite--organic soul linked to organic computer, supported by organic 
housekeeping systems. After a while you will add inorganic systems to your 
computer part and your housekeeping part.

So--Platonic soul, or self circuit? If the former, you are already immortal 
and indestructible, and perhaps already enjoying lives elsewhere and 
elsewhen. If the latter, freezing your assets becomes more important.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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