X-Message-Number: 25387
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 10:59:14 EST
Subject: metaphysics?

Mike Perry and Thomas Donaldson both seem to feel that the question of  
criteria of survival, or of identity, cannot be answered with scientific or  
logical proof, now or perhaps ever.
I think this is wrong. Certainly no definitive answer is presently  

available, because we just don't know enough about physics or biology. It is  
possible that "survival" is ultimately illusory, that the universe is not  

user-friendly and there are no answers we will like or even find tolerable. But,
historical perspective,  the presumption must be that eventually we will  know 
all that is knowable, and if there are any satisfactory options we  will find 
Meanwhile, my tentative view seems both scientifically plausible and  

tolerable--namely, that "you" survive (at least in part) if future selves  

you in matter, time, and space. I label this the physical continuity  criterion.
It is admittedly pretty vague as stated, and will need sharpening,  including 
attention to psychological continuity, which might vary somewhat from  
physical continuity, depending on specifications.
In any case, the topic is not "metaphysics" in the sense of something  

related mainly to language, or of something incapable of confirmation. Language
traps do indeed underlie most "philosophical" problems, but our existence and  
feelings are real and absolute, and it should be assumed that all practical  
questions are answerable in principle.
Robert Ettinger

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