Thread: Dar al-Hikma
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:43 AM
wstewart wstewart is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: XCV
Default Re: Dar al-Hikma

"Does Old Paul pass to New?"

davidm's Ship of Theseus analogy points to pattern and substance as keys to the meaning of "passage". However pattern and substance do not factor into his decision wrt unfelt time-gaps, which he views as real but inapplicable to Old/New Paul due to what is basically a failure of narrative construct. "...such gaps don't apply to cases like Old Paul and New Paul... since in these cases the principal characters have no reason to believe they were in a gap." Here it's as though the narrative were essential, and continuity of bodily pattern and substance incidental.

Spacemonkey doesn't take the narrative route, but denies subjective continuity between Old/New Paul due to a lack of "numerical identity" between them. This, even as "It makes sense to speak of continuity for James where the same brain, body, and psychology is continuing after a break." Given that Old/New Paul share the same brain and body across a break, one has to wonder just how much "psychology" must be added, to count toward Spacemonkey's required numerical identity across the break. Or is psychology really required? "We don't have to know the exact role of bodily continuity to see that this is both the only factor at all capable of justifying any talk of continuation for Paul..." So maybe "bodily continuity" is the only actual requirement for Spacemonkey. But there is bodily continuity between Old and New Paul, so...

davidm and Spacemonkey aren't inclined to reconcile their various lines of reasoning, and give a unified argument for the impossibility (or ambiguity?) of Old Paul's passage to New. I can't say I blame them. I wouldn't want the job.


Originally Posted by Spacemonkey
The question is whether it makes any sense to speak of a continuity, transition, or passage connecting them. You say it does make sense, but you insist that they are different people, different bodies, and different subjectivities, so what are you actually saying by using the words 'continuity', 'transition', or 'passage' here when you admit that nothing continues, transits, or passes? How is this anything other than an empty employment of symbols to describe the exact same objective and subjective facts as one person dying and another different person being born? How is it anything more than an abuse of language?
Subjective continuity does not fit your ready template, and it's no abuse of language to point this out. Subjectivity and the non-subjective body are different things, and the continuity of non-subjective body cannot be equated with continuity of subjectivity. At transitional limits of instantiation and dissolution, subjectivity does appear to be bracketed by common, universal principles of recursive computation, which cannot have identifier by definition. But given that our being is intimately associated with these transitions, identifiers could not apply to our being at the transitions. Nature then would have neither means nor motive to enforce any rule of identity. The transitions would be effectively the same, and it's parsimonious to think that nature would treat them indifferently, as truly the same.

Such universality makes the reliable execution of subjective continuity at unfelt time-gap transitions understandable, as no particular change e.g. in bodily continuity, numerical identity or psychological qualities could alter a universal, and render one objective/subjective transition less identical than another. This forestalls the confusion that would emerge if one were to argue, for example, against the possibility of Old Paul's passage to New, on the basis of some difference between the two.

The flip side of this universality is the lack of means for nature to distinguish subjective transitions in one body from those in another. The consequence is existential passage, which introduces one temporal rule and four basic passage types. This adds some complexity, relative to the dead-end view, but that has to be weighed against the greater complexity and difficulty of reasoning that tries to puzzle out all the means whereby even Old Paul's passage to New might be rendered impossible.

Of course, this post is only a slight restatement of some essay reasoning, and it shouldn't seem especially novel. Neither should it seem meaningless.
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