The Matter duplicator & implications for an enduring sel

I think that although many of us unhesitatingly subscribe to materialism, or at least that physical states of the brain completely fix our mental states, we still cannot get rid of our basic dualist intuitions of a substantial self existing in the body - what has been referred to as the ghost in the machine.

I think this is particularly so for the notion of an enduring self. A lot of materialists are quite happy to tie their identity down to psychological states, and that what makes you the same person from second to second is that your body exhibits very similar psychological states.

Now that is absolutely fine, but it seems to me that many of those who label themselves materialists (or indeed property dualists who need to hold on to similar criteria for what constitutes an enduring self), do not truly understand the consequences of their own position.

The consequences are that there is no intrinsic self, or, to use the correct terminology, no substantial self which endures from one second to the next.

Here is how I describe this substantial self for my forthcoming website.

Well, I haven’t done the duplicate experiment section yet; however I have made notes. So the following is the important pertinent stuff.

But I need to make this more clear, so here are some additional notes. Actually the next quoted notes constitute a post I made on the jref over a year ago. I was convinced at the time that my argument here established that materialism, and indeed any materialist based metaphysic such as property dualism, must be incorrect. However, I now acknowledge I was wrong. Why? [b]Because I was implicitly presupposing the notion of an enduring self[/b]. In other words I was begging the question. :slight_smile: Anyway, here is what I formerly thought of as the proof against materialism.

So how does the materialist escape the paradox? He has to relinquish the notion of an enduring self! Consider the precise moment after duplication. Which is the rightful heir to the original Ian? The answer is neither of them! Under materialism “I” am effectively dying every infinitesimal fraction of a second only to be replaced by a differing “I”. Thus after duplication the duplicate should not rationally mind dying at all [b]since he is continually effectively dying![/b] And of course the same goes for the original Ian. As long as one of the Ians’ remains alive then that is absolutely great because then I will be £10,000,000 better off :slight_smile:

But how many materialists would feel perfectly happy about agreeing to be killed because their original (or duplicate) will get the money? Indeed, how many materialists won’t feel that they are actual ly dying full stop!? (or “period” as the Americans say)

PS As an interesting aside, given that the 2 rooms and the 2 selves are absolutely identical, the duplication won’t actually really take place until either of the 2 doors to the room opens and a person announces you are either the “original” or “duplicate”. That’s something else I didn’t realize when I made that post over a year ago. LOL

OK comments?

Could it not be that what we think of as the self is a unifier and a composite of related aggregates? Seeing a duality ignores the whole.

It could be, but this completely ignores my post (in which I did not deny this).

Sorry, I was throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

My problem is that your quoted argument relies on hypotheticals,

Or the other hypotheticals. To me, nothing follows from hypotheticals because hypotheticals are just that, which hamstrings your argument, I suppose, as a Materialist would simply rely on that which is to argue, and not that which might be 1000 years hence.

As I read it, your argument is if we assume the self endures then the self endures. You corrected this, and then continued with a different hypothetical where you assume,

From that it doesn’t necessarily follow that a materialst shouldn’t mind dying, lacking a rational reason for living, because the conclusion (as best I can tell) is unrelated to the hypothetical. I suppose one could just argue one’s self endured until it no longer endured.

My first post was simply me wondering if there is truly a problem between the materialst conception of the human body versus others.

Hypotheticals? I’m sorry?? What has this got to do with anything??

Look, if you cannot understand my elucidation of what materialism entails, then why are you responding?? It’s a thought experiment - what you describe as a “hypothetical”. The fact that it is a “hypothetical” is absolutely of no relevance to anything whatsoever. Now, do you have anything of relevance to contribute or not?

In that case you completely fail to understand it and I wonder why you are responding to it.

I corrected nothing.

Nor did I claim this. I said he should [b]rationally[/b] not mind dying. {sighs}

Anyone want to give a sensible response?

Oh good lord, another cut and paste. Let me clarify.

Imagine you are reading a post. This post is written as an argument that purports that it can prove something. It then gives a series of hypothetical premises unrelated to the conclusion and claims that the conclusion is thus proven.

Hypothetically speaking, what does any of this prove exactly?

Thats right… my point is your hypotheticals have no relevance to your conclusion either. You asked for opinions, well, there ya have it.

What did you want? Hugs and kisses? Maybe a little tongue?

Oh, you did not write this?

And what, pray tell, did anything in your thought experiment attempt to prove about his rationally not wanting to die? I could be mistaken here, I admit, perhaps I don’t see the link. If you left it up to the reader to guess and the reader doesn’t, that might be philosophy I suppose, but it seems like laziness to me.
Simply put, you have a well written, interesting, long ass post where very little if anything relates to your conclusion. You write very pretty, but you haven’t proven anything. I am not sure if you even tried. That said I liked it, it made me think about the flaws in Rationalism.

Can we concentrate on my opening post please? I outlined a thought experiment. This is what philosophers do in order to test out their beliefs. The fact that it has never been carried out, or might never be carried out, is of supreme irrelevance.


I explained that if you are a materialist, or more generally that brain states fix mental states (therefore including property dualism as well as materialism), then there is no enduring self, and that effectively one is ceasing to exist only to be replaced by someone almost identical to you every infinistesmal fraction of a second.

I submit that, to me, my argument seems to be sound. I’d just thought I’d point it out because many people might label themselves aas materialists, but not understand all the implications.

Now, if you have a problem with my argument, then why don’t you state what you believe the problem to be.

I am not interested in responses which are complete non-sequiturs.

Sorry, I just ain’t interested. Understand??

If you had just written that instead of the novella, I could have saved the thirty or so minutes I spent reading and re reading your original post.

Look on the bright side. Your thread went from languishing with zero replies to now (what, five or six)? If current trends at ILP continue, now Monooq will post soon to call me an idiot, Imp and Future Man will join to argue over capitalism, Dunamis and Oxford will argue over dead philosophers, De’Trop will chime in with a post concerning sex with throw rugs, to which She will reply, and someone from Philosophy Forums will conclude it all by telling us they were just banned.


That’s ILP in a nut shell. :slight_smile: