X-Message-Number: 25085
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 07:09:13 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: Duplication


A couple of points. One minor and one more weighty.

1. As Thomas suggested, if a specific part of the 
brain experiences qualia, then there would be a 
patient somewhere who has suffered brain damage 
to that part of the brain and no longer experiences 
qualia. Brain damaged patients are the primary
source of our knowledge about the workings of 
the brain. What does it look like when someone 
stops experiencing qualia? Are they simply 

I'm still trying to grok the idea of qualia, so 
tell me... Do we experience qualia while we're
unconscious? Say in a dreaming state?

2. You then countered Thomas' assertion: 

"If we constantly change the atoms and molecules 
making us up, then in what way does this differ 
from [an exact copy]? "

with the following:

"Because changing a thing is not the same as
duplicating it. You can change my qualia experiencer,
and my personal survival is assured as long as you
don't change it in such a way that it ceases to be a
qualia experiencer. If you were to change my brain in
such a way that I no longer had a qualia experiencer,
then my soul would have been destroyed, and mucking
with the atoms in my head to build a new qualia
experiencer would not help me at all.

My response:

You apparently associate the experience of qualia with
purely physical processes. Clearly, these processes
are not absolutely continuous. There is at least one
microsecond that separates State A in your brain/soul
from State B. Where is the soul during this pause? 

What if it took the same amount of time to duplicate 
you as it did for your brain to change from State A to
State B?  Claiming that there is a difference between
the original and the copy because of differences in
location is insufficient. Though it may have been no
more than a microsecond, the original's brain has
changed location as well. The difference is only a
matter of degree. There is no substantive difference
between the two.

I understand the common sense that seems to lie at 
the foundations of your argument. If I awake in a room
with my duplicate, it will seem apparent to both of us
that there are two qualia experiencers and I believe
that's true "almost" immediately, but not for the
first instant of duplication.

Here's a thought experiment. What if technology was 
capable of immediately connecting the minds of the 
original and the copy at the moment of duplication so 
that each shared all of the experiences of the other. 
Would there be two qualia experiencers experiencing 
identical qualia or would there be one experiencer in 
two locations. I would suggest the latter. If I cut
the cord, you would say there are now two
experiencers...and thus two souls. Determining which
is the original and which the duplicate would be
pretty pointless, wouldn't it? And if I reconnect the
two minds so that they again merge into one
experiencer, can we then say that one of the "souls"
died? If so, which "soul" survived?

Furthermore, you wrote: (As an aside, I do think it 
is possible to gradually replace the brain with
artificial constructs, and I don't think this would
result in destruction of the subjective inner-life of
the individual, at least, not if done properly.)

My response: Right. So if I gradually replace your 
neurons with artificial duplicates, and I then connect
you to a computer so that your "soul" is distributed
across two articial substrates (much like the twins
were connected in the example above), and like before,
there is a complete sense of subjective continuity,
then the same rules apply. If I disconnect the
artificial brain from the computer we suddenly have
two experiencers but now the difference is that the
new experiencer was created not by duplication but by
extending the original. Was one soul split into two? 

That's enough for now. I'm feeling a little woozy.
Advances in technology will force us to continue to
try to wrap our minds around these paradoxes.

Best regards,


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