Re: Is a Person One or Many?

From: Heartland (
Date: Mon Mar 10 2008 - 15:16:55 MDT

> He said it on April 21 2006 on the Extropian list. I guess it's OK to
> give an exact quote as it's in publicly available archives:
> "Your instance of mind process would die either from mind stopping
> caused by anesthetic or mind stopping caused by natural death."
> Since then I have thrown this quote back in his face at least a dozen
> times, probably more, and he has never once denied saying it. I also
> told him that even the best of us can say stupid things from time to
> time and if he retracts that comment I will say no more about it, but he
> never did.
> John K Clark

There's no reason to retract it. The sentence still makes perfect sense (at least
to me) if you are careful not to skip any words in it. I guess the word "mind" can
be too distracting (it's too precious to people) which can lead someone to miss the
point(s) of the quote. Perhaps, if I replaced "mind" with something like "flight"
or "motion", these points/ideas would come more into focus. So, how about, "*This*
INSTANCE of "motion" TYPE ceases to exist when *this* moving object of
"capableOfMovement" TYPE comes to a rest (the object explodes, hits the wall,
engine suddenly freezes and the object slows down to a stop)"? Then, the same
sentence with "motion" replaced by "mind" would look something like, "*This*
INSTANCE of "mind" TYPE ceases to exist when *this* hardware of
"capableOfMindProcessing" TYPE stops functioning (the hardware explodes, loses
power, the OS "freezes" :-) )". Still nothing?

Well, the bottom line is (I strongly believe) that to survive means to preserve the
instance of life, not the type of life. Type is a meaningless concept.
My neighbor and I both share "human" type, yet not even the pattern camp would
agree that a deceased neighbor survives in me just because we share "human" type.
The degree to which something dead is similar to something living should be equally
irrelevant to the survival of the dead thing. It's because types are abstract,
arbitrary and imaginary while instances are real (have physical manifestations) and
measurable. There would be no types without instances. Type is what you
artificially assign after you have an instance. It's merely a symbol representing a
real thing, not the actual thing. Type is a big red herring. ;-)

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