X-Message-Number: 25539
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 16:41:04 +0100
From: Henri Kluytmans <>
Subject: Survival of QE after disassembly

(Sorry for the late reply, I'm kind of busy lately.)

I wrote:

>"1) I would like to know what kind of new and still unknown 
>physical forces and/or processes are responsible for keeping the QE 
>intact in a frozen body that will be destroyed by atomic 
>disassembly-reassembly ?"

Richard answered :

>The QE is a hunk of matter in your brain, arranged in a way 
>satisfying certain relations. If you change the arrangement so that 
>the relations are no longer satisfied, you have destroyed the QE. 

But according to chemistry when the original arrangement is restored, 
the original relations and properties are restored too.

>The QE is destroyed by disassembly because the QE is a physical 
>system possessing certain properties which do not hold for a random 
>(or disassembled) collection of atoms. In a similar fashion, a dog 
>is destroyed by a flamethrower because the flamethrower changes the 
>arrangement of atoms, such that the hunk of matter no longer 
>satisfies the 'dog relations'. In both cases, the matter does not 
>cease to exist. But the thing referred to by the noun does.

Here you state that the QE is destroyed by disassembly. 
There is no dispute about that, the dispute is about : 
Why is it not restored by re-assembly. 
(Because according to physics/chemistry it should!)

>I don't assume any new forces or processes.


>Of course, a rebuilt QE will be chemically identical to the 
>original QE. But it won't be the original QE, as you can 
>conclusively prove by building a copy while the original exists. 

To avoid discussion about definitions I will not state here that 
"the original" is recreated, but only that the reassembled system 
is the same as the original. I.e. it possesses the same physical 
properties, and exhibits the same physical behavior.

But when a system possesses the same physical properties, and exhibits 
the same physical behavior as the original, then there is no difference 
between it and the original. According to physics those systems are 

I can take a system of chemically bonded atoms, I can disassemble it 
and then rebuild the exact original system. According to physics it 
should be the same as the original. I could also make duplicates,
and according to physics these copies should also be the same as 
the original system. 

(According to quantum mechanics, when certain conditions are 
satisfied, duplicates of systems of atoms can even occupy the 
same quantum state. (I.e. form a Bose-Einstein condensate.) 
And this has been witnessed in experiments for separate atoms.)

Now, when it concerns dead matter, this seems to constitute no 
problem. But when it concerns a system that is a substrate for 
a process that results in human intelligence, then suddenly, 
for some people, disassembly and re-assembly does not result 
in restoration anymore... 

But according to physics there should be no difference between 
dead matter and (formerly) living matter. Actually, when frozen 
to a certain low temperature (for example 20 Kelvin, the temperature 
of liquid helium, or even lower if you like), there are no chemical 
processes taking place. So the system of atoms (which could be a human 
body), at such low temperatures, can be considered dead matter too.

I would like to know what Richard thinks about disassembly and 
reassembly of a simple water molecule. Do you also state that 
this does not result in restoration of the original molecule ?

Actually, I think your objections are only of a philosophical nature. 
It seems that your argument against disassembly-reassembly is a 
self-made axiom. And I think it was created to satisfy instinctive 
emotional reasons.

I think you do not to want to accept that you are only a process 
taking place in a system of atoms. And that when the system is 
frozen, this process stops. 

Especially the fact that according to physics, copies can be made of 
the system, including the process, seems to bother you. Therefore 
you made your axiom : that when the process stops, it is gone for ever, 
and when it restarts it is not the same process anymore. However 
because you don't want to lose your identity in a frozen state, you 
claim that the process is still present in a frozen body. But according 
to physics, there are no processes in a frozen body. At least, no 
chemical processes. (Only sporadical nuclear processes.) Because you 
don't assume new physical interactions, this would mean that according 
to your self-made axiom your QE would be lost by freezing the body.

>I don't have to invoke quantum mechanics to show you that a rebuilt 
>QE won't be the original QE. I just have to get you to think about 
>what those words mean.

To me, this looks like a confirmation that your objections are 
only philosophical in nature. (Thinking about words, sounds like 
philosophy to me.)

Your kind of reasoning seems similar to the assumption of certain 
biologists a couple of decades ago that "a mysterious life-force" 
had to be present in all living matter. Nowadays, all biologists 
assume only chemical interactions are responsible for the behavior 
and properties of living matter.


When you assume that your mind is only an information process, 
then there are no contradictions with physics, and there 
is no requirement for ackward axioms and mysterious properties. 
And, as I think even you will have to agree, for information at 
least, a copy is exactly equal to the original.


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