Are we all the same person?

 
stofzuigerkast
 
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stofzuigerkast
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25 July 2016 14:30
 

I believe there is significant logic in that we are all the same person, and that rebirth is in fact going to happen.
I’ve posted this theory on other fora, but without much positive response. I think that has to do with the illusion of the self.
Since the self being an illusion is one of the cornerstones of Buddhism I would love to know you guys think of it.

I will formulate two thought experiments, after which I will try to show that they are in essence the same.

1. THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS
————————————————————————

1.1 The apartments thought experiment.
—————————————————————————
We have a drug which is capable to regulate to which part of the brain a person can read/write memory.
We put Bob in the following building; It consists of a central room with a bed, and surrounding it are 10 different apartments which Bob can access from the central room.

Each of these 10 apartments are different, and has different things to do in them.

We will label the apartments with numbers 1,2,3 etc.

Bob will live a day in apartment 1, then goes to sleep in the central room, after which he spends a day in apartment 2 and again sleeps in the central room.
He does this with all the apartments after which he starts again with apartment 1 and continuous this loop during the experiment.

Depending in which apartment Bob will live in the next day, he will be given the correct drug so that he can read/write the memories of that specific apartment. Memories of different apartments are not saved in the same part of the brain.

Because of this when Bob participates with the experiment, he only appears to be experiencing the life of only one apartment.
When he lives a day in apartment 1, and goes to sleep, the next thing he knows is that he once again needs to go to apartment 1.

When Bob experiences apartment 5, it seems to him that he only experiences apartment 5. When apartment 5 is boring or has bad living conditions he can say it was just bad luck that he ‘collapsed’ with apartment 5.

Also when Bob participates with the experiment, there isn’t a chance that he is going to die doing it. It is not that because there could’ve been 11 apartments, 10/11 of him will survive, and there is a 1/11 chance that Bob will die and be in some sort of ‘eternal nothingness’ because apartment 11 does not exist. In essence Bob can’t collapse with a non-existing apartment.

We can also expand the experiment:
Bob can communicate with the different apartments via email and we could give each apartment a different job, for example Bob from apartment 1 is a mailman, apartment 2 is a cashier, apartment 3 a taxi driver etc.  Each will have different salaries, coworkers and friends. In essence each apartment will have their own live.

1.2 Ten persons thought experiment.
————————————————————————-
We have 10 different individuals living in the same apartment building Bob lived in. Each person has his own apartment.
At all-time 9 of them will be under narcosis and 1 of them is awake. One by one they will live a day in their apartment.

2 THE EXPERIENCER
———————————————

The reason the apartments thought experiment might be similar to conscious live in the universe has to do with what Sam Harris calls the ‘experiencer’.

“I’m not arguing that consciousness is a reality beyond science or beyond the brain or that it floats free of the brain at death. I’m not making any spooky claims about It’s metaphysics . What I am saying however is that the self is an illusion. The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. An experiencer in addition to the experience. The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body. That’s where most people start when they think about any of these questions. Most people don’t feel identical to their bodies. They feel like they have bodies. They feel like there inside the body. And most people feel they are inside their heads. Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion. It makes no neuro-anatomical sense. There’s no place in the brain for your ego to be hiding. We know that everything that you experience – your conscious emotions and thoughts and moods and the impulses that initiate behavior – all of these things are delivered by a myriad of different processes in the brain that are spread over the whole of the brain. They can be independently erupted. We have a changing system. We are a process and there’s not one unitary self that’s carried trough from one moment to the next unchanging. And yet we feel that we have this self that’s just this center of experience.” – Sam Harris- Neuroscientist and philosopher.

So what is an experiencer? It is literally what the word says it is, it is not the experience itself, it is what experiences the experience.

We have multiple experiences, vision, sounds, pain, etc.  To keep it simple you can ignore your other senses and simply imagine the experience to be light (vision), and the experiencer is who/what sees the light.

We will approach the scenario in which experiencers exist, and the scenario in which they don’t exist.

2.1 Experiencers do not exist.
—————————————————————
The total information about the experience itself we will call X, and the information about who experiences the experience we will call Y.

There is no reason why humans at some point aren’t capable of creating something that is conscious. Unless a God is required to add the extra ingredient of consciousness, what nature can do with the laws of physics, humans can do with the laws of physics. Even if it takes us another 500 000 years before doing so.

Humans create such a machine, one of the inputs is a camera so the experience of light can be created.
When the scientist turn on the machine, who will experience the experience? Who will see the light? There aren’t a trillion souls in the universe and one of them is chosen to experience the experience. The experience of light will simply exist. The total information about this experience is simply X

When the scientist turn the machine off overnight,  and the next day they turn it back on (A), who will now see the experience of light?  Again the experience will simply exist. The total information about the experience is X.
What if the hardware of the machine is in bad condition and it’s information is uploaded in the same type of machine (B). Who will experience the experiences now?
Again the experience will simply exist. It’s a nonsensical question to ask whether the same ‘person’ will experience the experiences.

To visualize:
http://i68.tinypic.com/2rqm736.png

2.2 Experiencers do exist.
—————————————————-
The scientists turn the computer on, the information of the experience is X. Experiencer Y1 sees the experience.
When the scientist turn off the computer, and turn it back on the next morning (A), will the same person/experiencer see the experience of light? Will the information of Y be the same?
What if the scientists open up the machine and replace some parts (B)? Who will now see the light?

To visuallize:
————————
The experiencer stays the same:

http://i68.tinypic.com/11m6t1l.png

The experiencer changes:

http://i65.tinypic.com/2886rgp.png

If experiencers do exist, humans must be very careful when creating conscious machines. At which point do you kill an experiencer? The problem is we wouldn’t even be able to test whether the experiencer was killed or not. A conscious machine after (C) will always be convinced that ‘he’ experienced the machine before (C).

2.3 The information of the experiencer/soul is invisible
———————————————————————————————————-
As far is science is concerned the information of Y is 100% invisible. A system that creates consciousness can be studied from every angle, but only the information of X can be extracted when doing so.  We can’t even confirm that you are the same ‘person’ as your yesterday self . Maybe deep sleep (S) kills the experiencer and this morning when you woke up you actually got ‘born’, and this is the only day you will live. There doesn’t seem to be an evolutionary benefit to make sure the experiencer isn’t killed.

http://i64.tinypic.com/i3zcbo.png

Not only is the information of Y invisible, like Sam Harris says this ‘self’ does not make any neuro-anatomical sense. There isn’t a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. There is just the thoughts. There isn’t an experiencer that experiences the experience. There is just the experience.
There is no place in your brain for a ‘thinker of thoughts’ or ‘experiencer’ to be hiding.
The experiencer is bassicly a different word for the soul. The experiencer isn’t the brain, it isn’t even the conscious experience created by the brain, it is an invisible ‘thing’ which experiences the conscious experiences created by the brain.

2.4 The apartments thought experiment/10 person experiment.
—————————————————————————————————————————
The experiences of the apartment thought experiment only differ from each other in terms of the information in X (the experience itself). When we do the same experiment but with 10 persons. We imagine the experiences of each apartment to not only differ in X information, but also in Y information

Universe with experiencers:
(P1= person 1   / Ap1= apartment 1) 
http://i65.tinypic.com/ot24pw.png

Universe without experiencers: 
http://i66.tinypic.com/161zwbn.png

3. TIME
__________________________________

The 10 persons thought experiment is set up so that there aren’t two people awake at the same time.
Physics tells us that time is an illusion;

“For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” –Albert Einstein

“The past is not gone, the future isn’t non-existent, the past the future and the present are all existing in exactly the same way” - Max Tegmark

“there is just as much reality to the future and the past, as there is to the present moment”-  Sean Carroll

This means that sure you are conscious at the same time the person you are talking to is conscious. But you are also conscious at the same time your baby is conscious, and at the same ‘time’ your 12 year old self is conscious.
Also note, what is the chance of having conscious experience right now in a timeless universe?

3. THE ILLUSION OF THE EXPERIENCER
____________________________________________________________

There are obvious reasons why we have the illusion of a personal experiencer:

1 Information
—————————-
When Bob has an experience (A) in which he thinks about what he ate yesterday (B)
This experience (A) is an experience that exists. In it is visual and other information encoded recorded by (B).
(A) also knows that the recording of this information was coupled with experience.
Naturally (A) will think it also experienced (B) and the feeling of an experiencer emerges.

2.The body
—————————-
In order for a system to create conscious experience it needs to be of high complexity.  The most logical place to find the proper conditions for this to happen in a law based universe is in the form of life.
Because of this, conscious experience that share information are also always found in the same ‘body’ or evolution thereof.
Sure you might not remember your dream, but ‘you’ must have experienced it, since it happened in the same body. The same counts for your baby.

 
Dennis Campbell
 
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Dennis Campbell
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25 July 2016 18:24
 

And your opinion as to who should be the next President of the U.S. is?  Or, how often should we change oil in our cars?  Sorry, I just find this kind of post as useful as, but less satisfying, than masturbating into a pillow.

 
 
stofzuigerkast
 
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stofzuigerkast
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25 July 2016 19:51
 
Dennis Campbell - 25 July 2016 06:24 PM

And your opinion as to who should be the next President of the U.S. is?  Or, how often should we change oil in our cars?  Sorry, I just find this kind of post as useful as, but less satisfying, than masturbating into a pillow.

And why do you say this?

[ Edited: 25 July 2016 19:56 by stofzuigerkast]
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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25 July 2016 20:33
 

I think that what you are saying is that everything, ultimately, is of the public domain. In the way that multiple computers can run the same program (and what is the ‘runner’ of said program, as an isolated entity?) and multiple people can read the same book (and what is the entirely unique ‘knower’ of those specific words, from person to person?) experiences are simply an output of an exponentially complex set of causes and condition, but don’t actually ‘belong’ to anyone in a subject-object type way. I tend to agree with this, although recently I have begun to think that one must be respectful of the experience of feeling this is not the case, if that makes any sense. Many eastern and new age type philosophies emphasize something like non-attachment to experience because (I think) of this presumed universality, but to my mind this is still a sort of Zeno’s paradox. Whatever experience one has - the experience of saying “I’m going to let it go and not be attached”, the experience of going “Fuck it, I’m human, I’m going to fully experience being totally attached”, the experience of experiencing attachment as an illusion, and on and on and on… these are all still experiences, so they are all still, by definition, not quite the thing that is being discussed when we ponder what underlies such experiences.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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25 July 2016 21:11
 

We are not the same brain. The brain is generating the experience. I disagree with the OP.  There may be a universal consciousness, but there are many brains and therefore many experiences.  I can’t access yours and you can’t access mine.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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25 July 2016 21:38
 

We are not Bob, there are no rooms, and there is no drug, but with a little more effort you have the making of some good scfi.

 
 
stofzuigerkast
 
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stofzuigerkast
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26 July 2016 14:21
 
NL. - 25 July 2016 08:33 PM

I think that what you are saying is that everything, ultimately, is of the public domain. In the way that multiple computers can run the same program (and what is the ‘runner’ of said program, as an isolated entity?) and multiple people can read the same book (and what is the entirely unique ‘knower’ of those specific words, from person to person?) experiences are simply an output of an exponentially complex set of causes and condition, but don’t actually ‘belong’ to anyone in a subject-object type way.

Yes, the essence of the theory lies in that the self is an illusion.

There are only 3 things needed for the theory to be (very likely) true:

-There can’t be a self
-The universe need to be timeless
-experience is quantized

We already know that that the self is an illusion an that the universe is timeless.
The only thing that is needed for this theory to be likely true is that that experiences are quantized like so many other things in our universe. With quantized I mean experience doesn’t go in a perfect flow. But that different seperate experiences follow up on each other.

 
stofzuigerkast
 
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stofzuigerkast
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26 July 2016 14:47
 
GAD - 25 July 2016 09:38 PM

We are not Bob, there are no rooms, and there is no drug, but with a little more effort you have the making of some good scfi.

Look I promise that the theory that I am trying to explain isn’t stupid, The problem is the illusion of the self is extremely strong. Do you know what Sam Harris means with the self?

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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26 July 2016 21:10
 
stofzuigerkast - 26 July 2016 02:47 PM
GAD - 25 July 2016 09:38 PM

We are not Bob, there are no rooms, and there is no drug, but with a little more effort you have the making of some good scfi.

Look I promise that the theory that I am trying to explain isn’t stupid, The problem is the illusion of the self is extremely strong. Do you know what Sam Harris means with the self?

I don’t know what Sam Harris says or means with self, I’m not generally interested in what Sam Harris says or means on anything.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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27 July 2016 09:04
 
stofzuigerkast - 26 July 2016 02:47 PM
GAD - 25 July 2016 09:38 PM

We are not Bob, there are no rooms, and there is no drug, but with a little more effort you have the making of some good scfi.

Look I promise that the theory that I am trying to explain isn’t stupid, The problem is the illusion of the self is extremely strong. Do you know what Sam Harris means with the self?

The problem is that the illusion of self is inextricably linked to the rest of consciousness. Where by consciousness I mean the process by which humans construct a model of the universe in the mind, and the model of self that inhabits that imaginary universe. Without the illusion of self, you’d be incapable of imagining anyplace or anytime other than the here and now. You would be incapable of deception, and incapable of conceiving that anyone might deceive you. You’d have a hard time getting by in today’s world unless there was a special place, like a game preserve, where you could go and stay with other non-conscious humans, protected from the rest of us.

 
 
Wake up
 
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Wake up
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09 May 2017 16:07
 

Ok I know I’m a year late but really felt the need to comment. Kinda disappointed with some of the responses to this theory not seeing the profundity.

I think that to understand this guys point you have to first have, at least a conceptual, understanding of what is really meant by oneself.

Try to realise that there is no seperate self. Try to start by understandimg the physical reality to this.. E.g.  You are not seperate from your environment, the atmosphere surrounding ‘you’ is just as much you as A part of your body. The organism cannot exist without the oxygen in the atmosphere, which does not exist without the vegetation etc.. Do fish exist without sea? No. Therefore is the fish seperate from the sea? They are one process. Why do we think we are located inside these bodies? look at your hand. See the background surrounding it. Now what exactly is it that implies you are this hand and not the rest of the view?... It is information, you have assigned that hand to the idea of yourself. That is where the seperation lies - in conceptual framework. 

If you mentally label the atmosphere around you as a vital part of your body, it is no different from when you mentally label the human form in front of you as part of your body.

When you see the lines exist within your mind and not in reality, suddenly you see through the illusion of separation. And then if your anything like me.. It just leaves you with more questions..

Experiencer/experience… Same thing.. You cannot seperate the dance from the dancer. One process right.

whether we admit it or not none of us really know what’s going on or what we are, why we are here. Sure we all have ideas but if we are honest with ourselves we do not know. Science knows nothing about consciousness. Consciousness knows nothing of itself. How can it? It can only be conscious it cannot ‘know’.

Every now and then I catch a glimpse in another persons eye and I get the same feeling I have had since I was a child. That is me. And it is! Because when we stop defining ourselves as the little ‘me’ contained within this body on a freaking line popping into existence and then out for eternity, it becomes apparent that all that you experience is essentially you as there is no difference between the experience and experienced.

 
sojourner
 
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09 May 2017 18:49
 
Wake up - 09 May 2017 04:07 PM

Ok I know I’m a year late but really felt the need to comment. Kinda disappointed with some of the responses to this theory not seeing the profundity.

I think that to understand this guys point you have to first have, at least a conceptual, understanding of what is really meant by oneself.

Try to realise that there is no seperate self. Try to start by understandimg the physical reality to this.. E.g.  You are not seperate from your environment, the atmosphere surrounding ‘you’ is just as much you as A part of your body. The organism cannot exist without the oxygen in the atmosphere, which does not exist without the vegetation etc.. Do fish exist without sea? No. Therefore is the fish seperate from the sea? They are one process. Why do we think we are located inside these bodies? look at your hand. See the background surrounding it. Now what exactly is it that implies you are this hand and not the rest of the view?... It is information, you have assigned that hand to the idea of yourself. That is where the seperation lies - in conceptual framework. 

If you mentally label the atmosphere around you as a vital part of your body, it is no different from when you mentally label the human form in front of you as part of your body.

When you see the lines exist within your mind and not in reality, suddenly you see through the illusion of separation. And then if your anything like me.. It just leaves you with more questions..

Experiencer/experience… Same thing.. You cannot seperate the dance from the dancer. One process right.

whether we admit it or not none of us really know what’s going on or what we are, why we are here. Sure we all have ideas but if we are honest with ourselves we do not know. Science knows nothing about consciousness. Consciousness knows nothing of itself. How can it? It can only be conscious it cannot ‘know’.

Every now and then I catch a glimpse in another persons eye and I get the same feeling I have had since I was a child. That is me. And it is! Because when we stop defining ourselves as the little ‘me’ contained within this body on a freaking line popping into existence and then out for eternity, it becomes apparent that all that you experience is essentially you as there is no difference between the experience and experienced.


Well, I think the other side of the coin is that if you wake up thinking you’re a character out of a history book it’s considered a mental illness. And why? Because experience collates in our bodies (and, if you believe in the more spiritual side of Buddhism, in our ‘stream of consciousness’ from life to life). For the most part, we only see, hear, taste, touch, and smell what our bodies come into contact with (this is why most spiritual traditions posit some kind of psi phenomenon or omniscient consciousness at the ‘end’ of the path - an idea I quite like, but one has to admit real-world evidence of such things are in short supply.) (Should also note here that mind is a sixth ‘sense’ in Buddhism, and our minds are also strongly linked to our sensate history - when you see someone you know the complex story of who they are and how you know them instantly arises, it’s not like you have to look it up. The knowledge from books you have read is tucked away in there - you can’t quote from books that other people have read. The skills, fears, reactions, patterns, joys and sorrows you have developed arise in your mind in accordance with your own history and life, not someone else’s.) So in this way we are strongly differentiated by our bodies in a pretty real way, unless, again, you want to get into esoteric notions of this being ultimately illusory.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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10 May 2017 22:51
 

All entities are a single entity given certain theologies and metaphysical theories. Some cultures have a very low emphasis on individuality and autonomy.

That said, I think the experience of most people is that of a discrete and sovereign individual among other individuals. In many ways this circumstance is socially constructed but in other ways it isn’t. Science affirms or at least implies the uniqueness of persons in numerous ways.

We do exist in the world of course and cannot be extricated from it. Our physical bodies are a unit within the biome. Our minds (most of the time) are a conduit and a mirror for other minds. I would acknowledge our connected-ness in almost limitless ways. But it is our very connected-ness that highlights and underlines our individuality. The very sentence titling this thread….