X-Message-Number: 27588
Date: Mon,  6 Feb 2006 11:57:51 -0500
Subject: Coffee
From: <>

>> I suppose RBR's answer will be that the cup of coffee I started 
out with does not have an "identity". <<

Wrong. All existent things described by nouns have 'identities'---
or those nouns would have no utility and consequently not exist 
within the language.

By 'cup of coffee', I'll take an educated guess on a predicate and 
say that x is a cup of coffee if P(x) obtains, where P(x) = 'x 
defines a volume of matter in which there exists a cup filled with 
at least 50% coffee' (although pity the soul who tries to serve me 
a cup of coffee that's only half full).

In such a case, the act of continuously drinking and refilling a 
cup does not alter the identity of the 'cup of coffee' as defined 
here. In other words, the cup of coffee you end up with at the end 
of the day is the same cup of coffee (has the same identity) as the 
one you started out with in the morning. 

If this strikes you as odd it's only because your mind is incapable 
of holding the defined predicate in mind when thinking about a 'cup 
of coffee', and the alternate predicate you're thinking of (which 
no doubt involves the atoms of the coffee) clashes with the defined 

This particular example is not very applicable to the case of 
cryonics: in cryonics, we're concerned with preservation of 
functional properties; viz., those properties that enable me to 
experience the world, subjectively. So perhaps a more telling 
analogy would be a coffee pot, whose predicate would involve the 
functional property of being able to make a cup of coffee. 

>> And at which point during that period of years, does it stop 
having the same identity it originally had?  Or does it stop?  If 
not, why? <<

If by 'identity', you are referring to the identity of my 'ability 
to experience', then my brain will have the same (ability-to-
experience) identity for as long as I live, regardless of the 
individual atoms that make up my brain. Why? Because throughout 
that time period (and perhaps beyond it, with cryonics), the 
predicate 'P(x) = x has the ability to experience' holds 
continuously, even as the atoms of my brain are changing. 
Functional invariance implies identity invariance with respect to 
that function.

You would have known all this if you had *comprehended* my 
definition. You know, if you don't understand something I say, you 
can always ask for clarification.

>> But I remember RBR running off with his tail between his legs, 
some time ago, <<

Please refer me to a single message that I did not respond to. 
Conversations between me and others terminate because (a) people 
run out of ways to rationalize their belief in the immaterial and 
therefore abandon continued discourse; and (b) I become too busy in 
my professional life to stir up more trouble.

Richard B. R.

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