Re: Objective Anticipation

From: Stathis Papaioannou (
Date: Mon Mar 17 2008 - 04:05:07 MDT

On 17/03/2008, Jeff L Jones <> wrote:

> I agree that for many people, including me, "being able to enjoy
> future experiences" seems important at an emotional level. But I
> think that the only reason it seems so important is because of a
> particular illusion that humans have, which is very common... and even
> I admit to falling for it most of the time. This is the illusion that
> there is a clear difference between "self" and "environment".... or
> said another way, that there even *is* such a thing as the self. I
> know it sounds like I'm getting kind of "zen" here, but I really think
> that this is something that will ultimately turn out to be false.

It is, already, patently false if you are looking for "objective
truth". The definition of self, and the distinction between self and
other and self and environment is just a side-effect of evolution. If
you consider the entire possibility space of intelligent organisms,
there is no reason to consider that you are the same entity from
moment to moment or distinguish between self and other at all; it's
just that having that sort of mindset is not conducive to survival of
the potential replicator.

> I
> just don't think there is any real meaning to "personal identity",
> besides the utility you attach to being able to control future events.
> The way I look at it, I care about my "future self" (or more
> accurately "future selves") only because we have a lot in common and I
> have a lot of influence on him. Not because I think we are the same
> person. A person to me is defined by a particular sequential history
> of memories. Every sequence is a different person, even if two such
> sequences share a common past. So the question of whether I will get
> to "enjoy experiencing the future" is already tautologically false by
> my definition. I *know* that I won't be around in the future... the
> person who I am now will be very different by then. Even if I just
> believed in a single timeline, that person would still have a lot of
> new experiences and see the world through different eyes by then, just
> as I see the world through different eyes than my past selves did. So
> strictly speaking, it cannot be said that I will ever have any more
> experiences than I've already had.

Strictly speaking, yes; why should I care about some guy that wakes up
in my bed tomorrow morning and thinks he's me? Why should I care about
him even if he *does* have a lot in common with me and will tend to
further my projects? Since I know I won't be around anyway, making
plans beyond the next second is just evolutions ploy to help propagate
a certain set of genes. In fact, so is having any sort of goal or
feeling. But the point is, understanding all this does not make me
want to reprogram my brain so that I am free of it... since that too
would be contrary to my programming. I'm a kind of willing slave.

> This is something that has always bugged me about a lot of
> immortalists. It seems like a big motivation for many immortalists is
> that they want to "keep on experiencing" things. But to me, that's
> silly. You can't keep on experience things... but you can affect the
> future. I'd like to radically extend my life, but only because I have
> certain goals I want accomplished in the future and I don't trust
> anyone else besides my "future self" to accomplish them. Nor do I
> think I can accomplish even a small fraction of them in a natural
> lifespan. In my opinion, my reasons for wanting life extension are
> rational, whereas a lot of people want life extension for irrational
> reasons (reasons based on the illusion of the self).

Well, yes, I know it's silly, but not only am I unable to overcome the
delusion, the delusion itself stops me from *wanting* to overcome the

Stathis Papaioannou

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