X-Message-Number: 25326
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 22:51:30 EST
Subject: QE problems

I have postulated that the experiencer and the experience are the  

same--perhaps some kind of modulated standing wave in the brain, with extension

space and time, so there is physical overlap or continuity between  predecessors

and successors, tending to lend validity to at least partial  identification of
earlier and later selves. (This is admittedly pretty vague,  but perhaps not 
RBR says the "qualia experiencer" (QE) is material in the brain, and the  

qualia themselves are what happen to the QE, or  sequences of changes in  the 
I think this is not just a difference of language, and that RBR's  
formulation is questionable, as follows.
By analogy, one might liken the QE to a car, and a quale to the motion of a  
car, the car and its motion together being a traveling car, the QE and the  
quale together the experiencer having the experience. Without the motion, the  
car is only a potential traveler, and without the car there is nothing that  
can travel. Sounds all right so far.
However, suppose the car was damaged--maybe an ignition wire loose. It is  

still potentially able to travel, given just a little repair, but as  it is, no
go. Or you can imagine more damage, with more repair required--still  no go as 
is, but still potential function, given repair. 
By RBR's reckoning, as I read him, if there is an interruption in  the 
integrity of the QE--even minor damage, if it is sufficient to  cause loss of 

ability to function--then that counts as destruction of the QE  and permanent 
of the person, future repair counting as construction  of a new person and not 
survival or resurrection of the old. 
I emphasize again that we just don't know enough yet about biology, matter,  
space, or time to draw any definitive conclusions; but I think my formulation 
is  less vulnerable. So I am a tentative advocate of the quantitative view 
including  overlap or physical continuity, with no distinction between the 

experiencer and  the experience. You can even have "survival" after "death" by 
having  a brief and minor interruption of functionality, with at least some 
degree of  overlap between the pre-damage and post-repair states. 
Robert Ettinger

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