nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

How do you know you're you?

In a recent discussion of whether you can tell that someone has been resurrected accurately enough*, I said:

"I may be kidding myself, but I think of my identity as being at least as much tied up in something about how my experience usually feels as it's tied up with my memory.

I do care a lot about my knowledge of golden age sf, and was upset when I lost access to it after trying welbutrin briefly. (I don't know how often this sort of thing happens, but it damaged my access to long term memory for months. It was bad for my short term memory, too.) However, I think I'd still be me in some important sense if I cared about something else the way I care about sf, and wouldn't be me if I cared about sf in some other way. This is getting hard to define, because when I think about, I'm not sure about other ways of caring about sf. There are other people with much better memories of the details, and I wouldn't mind having that. I'm pretty sure I'd still be me if I could put a lot of work into trying to figure out who Severian's parents are. (Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun). I'm not sure I'd be me if I developed a huge preference for science fiction vs. fantasy or vice versa.

Here's one: a major thing I want from sf is the feeling of spending some time in a world which is different from and more interesting than this world. I can enjoy nitpicking the world-building, but it's not a primary pleasure.

A while ago, I tried D-phenylalanine, and I dropped it because I didn't feel like me. Sorry, too long ago to remember details.

I have a sense of rightness which drives the way I do calligraphy. I wouldn't want to lose that, but having a sense of rightness is an important part of how I approach creativity and I'd want to have something else it applied to. I'm not sure everyone else does it that way.

It's not that memory or physical continuity are nothing to me, but I can tell I'm me because I feel like me. If I became someone who found their identity in their memories, I'd be someone else. And if you resurrected someone who looked like me and did calligraphy like me, but who found their identity in their memory, you've gotten it wrong, at least by my standards. Not that the pseudo-me would necessarily care, and I'm not sure about whether you're obligated to care."

How can you tell you're you?

Possibly one of the ways you can tell I'm me is that I'm not taking a crack at the possibly harder question of what you'd want from resurrecting someone else.

*Edited to add: I don't think the summary was quite accurate. The link is about trying to even figure out what you mean when you say you want the same person back.

This entry was posted at Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.
Tags: anti-depressants

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded