Teleportation, consciousness, and personal identity

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by vostibackle, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. OK, so suppose they've invented a teleportation device. It scans all the matter and energy in your body, vaporizes your body, and then reassembles all the matter and energy at your destination.

    The poll is, would you use this device, assuming there's no risk of malfunction?

    Some people think that the person who appears at your destination would just be a perfect clone of you, but it wouldn't actually be you. To me, it seems these people must be dualists-they think a person consists of something else besides matter and energy... perhaps a soul?

    I don't believe in souls, and I think that the only continuity between me now and me a minute ago is spatio-temporal and psychological. I see no reason for a spatio-temporal discontinuity to change my identity, and the teleporter will perfectly preserve psychological continuity. I believe it will feel like I step into the teleporter on Earth, and then instantly realize that I'm on Mars.

    Problems arise if you suppose that the teleporter malfunctions: it successfully copies you to your destination, but your original body is not destroyed. If you would have originally used the teleporter, you must have been willing to say that the person who stepped into the machine and the person who appeared at the destination were the same person. But, if they are the same person, who's this person that was supposed to be vaporized? Surely the fact that a vaporizer on Earth broke wouldn't change the identity of a person on Mars... But just as surely, the person who remains on Earth is the same person as the one who stepped into the teleporter; he stepped in, was scanned, and then nothing happened. Are there now two of you in existence? Do "you" experience both their consciousnesses? Who has the legal right to your property? Who gets to go home and sleep with your spouse?

    I find all these questions incredibly interesting (and revealing of one's metaphysical beliefs about consciousness).
  2. I wouldnt use a teleporter for the fear of getting lost in time..
  3. You go first.
  4. Assume there's no risk of malfunction. The teleporter works as advertised. That's not what this question is about, the question is really about whether you think you die and a clone appears, or whether it's actually you that appears at your destination.
  5. I think it would be me lol, the thought of a clone appearing out of the blue with no genetic backup whatsoever is almost impossible ??111
  6. I don't believe in time. Physical bodies age, but consciousness is. If the original body was not destroyed, then there is no consciousness to go with it. There would not be two "me's." And I refer to the word "me" as my consciousness, not the physical body that it possesses.

    In my opinion and beliefs, in the case of the malfunction, who is to say that either the body on Mars or the body on Earth are both me in the first place? If the teleporter transferred my consciousness to the new body, then the body on Mars would be mine and the body on Earth would be a body without a self-awareness. That also goes vice-versa.

    Now here is an interesting question, what do you guys suppose if my consciousness became completely disembodied from BOTH bodies during a malfunction of the teleporter, the one on Earth and Mars? Where does that leave your consciousness? (This question is based more on spiritual belief.)
  7. ...Did you not read the post or are you just really high? :D
  8. Ah, yes, dualism. I should have noted that the teleporter only scans physical energy, like electrical impulses in your brain. So your soul/consciousness is not transferred by this machine. It would remain behind on Earth, unless it somehow knew how to search the entire universe for a configuration of matter and energy matching your previous body and then somehow glom onto the new brain on Mars.

    The problem with dualism is that you need to explain exactly how this soul thing interacts with the physical world, yet isn't physical. How does it manipulate and receive information from the brain? How does it come to be attached to the brain? If you accept that man evolved from simpler life, it seems preposterous: you either have to admit that single-celled organisms have consciousnesses or that at some point in the evolutionary process, consciousness suddenly popped into existence. How do these dollops of consciousness-stuff get attached to particular blobs of matter in the physical world? How do they know only to attach to brains, and not rocks or pencils for example?

    I guess arguing about dualism might be beyond the scope of this thread. Dualism vs. physicalism is a huge argument...
  9. Yes, you made good points. That argument is beyond the scope of this thread. In my spiritual beliefs, all things of in the Universe, matter and dark matter, are interconnected and consciousness can only be awakened with the proper meditation, thought processes, and chemical reactions in the brain. Now your argument about simpler life, for me, would not work because the settings inside the organism would not permit the awakening of this consciousness. That is why evolution is a major process in the change of human beings into spiritual beings as well.

    Now for matter like pencils and rocks, these are not living things, therefore, awakening is impossible. I guess that statement does not really help my argument and I really have no argument for that part of your statement. On this part, all I have to say is that life is a special thing in the Universe and living things are lucky to be able to understand things that non-living things can.

    Haha this is totally off-topic from the point of the thread but it is an entertaining discussion.
  10. im really high
  11. My suggestion for everyone in this thread is to read a series of books called the Eschaton series by Frederick Pohl. Great books, and the last one sports a lot of the ideas that are being discussed here, especially the questions about who would win the legality battles and so forth.

    The Other End of Time
    The Siege of Eternity
    The Far Shore of Time

    Interesting reads, all three of them.
  12. hell yeah id pop into jessica albas shower.
  13. I'm all ready lost in time.
    I wouldn't need a stinkin teleporter for that.

    But seriously. . .I think it would be fun.

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