X-Message-Number: 25579
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 15:43:12 EST
Subject: more on potential etc.

I think Richard B.R. and others may not have given close enough attention  to 
potentiality vs. actuality.
RBR's position I believe goes something like this:
"You survive as long as your brain is capable of sustaining qualia, even if  
none are present at the moment, e.g. in cryostasis. If your brain  is damaged 
so it cannot sustain qualia, then you are destroyed, and can  never be 

"restored" because a repaired brain, or any duplicate, would be  another person 
not the original."
Look again at "life" vs. potential life. Bacteria have been  cultured after 
millions of years of dormancy in antarctic ice. While frozen,  were they alive 
or only potentially alive? It is plausible to say they were  alive, if we are 
willing to concede "life" without ongoing function, because all  it took to 
renew function was a small change in the environment--warm them  up. (Some say 
there are reptiles and amphibians that can freeze rock solid over  an Arctic 
winter and survive.)
Similarly, if all it takes to restore consciousness to a cryonics  patient is 
to warm him up, then it may be plausible to say the patient was  "alive" all 
the while. RBR would say the patient survived. (I would say the  patient was 
not alive while frozen, but nevertheless there was some overlap  between his 
predecessors and continuers, hence survival at least in part.)
However, suppose it takes a little more than warming. Suppose  the patient 
needs an electric shock or a chemical stimulant or intravenous  support to get 

the heart going or even brain waves. He might also need more  extensive repair.
Without that help he isn't going to wake up--he is damaged and  could 

reasonably be said to have only potential existence--or potential life or  
if RBR objects to the word "existence." 
But if you go that far, it is again difficult to see where you can draw a  

line. Does it take only a little damage to "destroy" a person? And if a little
damage won't destroy you, why would a lot? 
I think we have to settle for the quantitative solution. It isn't  either/or, 
but rather it is how  much--except for qualia. Qualia (probably)  either are 
present or not, which means you are either alive (existent in my  terminology) 
or not--with one big BUT.
The "but" is the extension or spread or overlap in matter, space, and  time. 
In particular, past and present and future have variable overlaps, not  

necessarily small ones, as Yvan Bozzonetti has pointed out--quantum  
in time can even be centuries or eons in some (not  necessarily relevant) c
ases, and there are also non-quantum  possibilities.  
Robert Ettinger

 Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"


Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=25579