X-Message-Number: 27615
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 15:40:09 -0500
From: Daniel Crevier <>
Subject: The magical power of decision
References: <>

To Valeria Retyunin.

Hi. You  wrote:

> This really is a point of view that drastically simplifies everything!
> Oh, that magical power of decision! Not only does it move mountains,
> it lets some people overcome death itself! It's as simple as that!!!

> Daniel, I wonder what will happen to you if you don't decide that the
> person who will wake up in your brain tomorrow will be you, or if you
> decide that he won't be you. Following you logic (that is, you are not
> your brain but merely a decision result) you will not survive your
> sleep.

My point is that the mountains don't have to move. Deciding whether I am the
same person as the one who will wake up tomorrow is a bit like deciding
whether Mount Washington is part of the Appalachians. We could redefine the
Appalachians to stop just short of Mount Washington, and give the rest of
the range another name. It wouldn't move the mountain.

There is a well established philosophical tradition behind this point of
view. A fairly recent example is Daniel Dennett's book "Consciousness
Explained". Another exposition of it is in Marvin Minsky's "Society of
Mind". Closer to your own background, perhaps, I believe Marx and Engels had
interesting things to say about it, although I am less familiar with their
work and don't endorse any economic consequences they might have drawn.

As to your remark about surviving through one's children, I dont know
whether it was made out of wistfullness or not, but I tend to agree with it.
There are degrees in survival and, Woody Allen notwithstanding, surviving by
not dying is just an extreme form of the process.



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