I figured a nice philosophical discussion would distract us from gloomy-gus Trump shit.
This gets to the heart of what makes you, "you."
If the transporter is disassembling you, converting your mass into energy, and then reconverting that energy back into mass and assembling it back into "you," are you still you, or did you just die and a new you, with all of your thoughts, abilities, and consciousness just get created?
And, if you were the person to rematerialize at the end of the transport, would you even realize that you got annihilated, if that is indeed what just happened?
Were there really thousands of Kirks who lived and died in ST Universe every time one of them stepped into a transporter?
If this is a First Law of Thermodynamics kind of an issue, then I kind of lean towards the transporter NOT being an instrument of genocide. If I were to get into an accident and my arm was amputated and then reattached at the hospital, it would still be my arm. Isn't the transporter just doing the same thing?
I pondered something sorta kinda similar (maybe) when thinking about all the antiquities ISIS smashed. (See, there I go with gloomy gus stuff. I can't help myself). Experts say some can reconstructed from the rubble. Are they the same building? What about ancient buildings that have been deliberately taken apart and moved?
I'm an ancient ruins freak. I'll walk miles to get to some remote pile of crumbling stone. But part of the thrill is feeling like I'm stepping into a piece of the ancient world. When I realize the thing was reconstructed, it's still cool, but somehow not the same, even if I never would have known without being told.
[ETA: Posted before clicking to the article, which discusses pretty much that.]
Of course, if it were my arm, I'd just be pretty damn glad to have a working arm, reconstruction be damned. But I do wonder -- would it feel quite the same?
Last Edit: Feb 10, 2017 16:30:01 GMT -5 by Deleted
For that matter -- our bodies are constantly replacing stuff. Is my hair the same hair I had ten years ago, when every bit of the hair I had then was long ago cut off?
Sticking with the sci-fi theme, a common angle in time travel stories is that you can't come in contact with the past or future "you," because it somehow represents a fracturing of a non-existent "law" of physics: two identical pieces of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
But even if there were such a law, the matter that makes up 20-year-old you is not the exact same matter that makes up 40-year-old you (though maybe there's an exception here for people who have had a lot of "work" done).
There was an original Star Trek episode where some scientist (nurse Christine's fiance, I believe) transferred his mind into an android. Christine was horrified and repelled when she realized it. He ended up being destroyed; can't recall how. But Kirk made some comment at the end that "Dr. So-and-so was never here."
Wasn't he? What is it that makes someone that particular person? I'd argue it's exactly what Dr. So-and-so (can't recall his name) transferred into the android, if it is anything at all.
And indeed, Kirk thought so himself in the final episode, where some whacko ex-girlfriend of his transferred his mind into her body and vice versa, and took over the enterprise. He was still Kirk, though not an atom of his body was the same.
Oh, sure, drag us away from 1960s TV references into, like, actual serious philosophy.
Seriously, those are cool videos. ( Angie ? you should watch them.) To be clear, as an atheist, I don't believe in souls, and having watched my dad suffer from frontal temporal lobe dementia, it is all too clear to me that consciousness (and personality and so, so many things) is all about the brain.
I think we might all agree with this:
you could replace a person's arms, legs, face, heart, and liver, and it would still be the same person. Liposuct half the body away, add implants -- same person.
But assuming science were up to the task of doing it, if you replaced the brain, it's not the same person, even if all the rest is the same.
If you could take a living, thinking brain and put it in an android, most of us would say "still the same person"
Hook the brain to a machine (as in the Star Trek episode "Spock's brain"), still the same person.
Destroy or remove the brain, and you have merely a shell.
Or at least, I think we could agree on all that. Maybe the religious folks might not?
Last Edit: Feb 10, 2017 21:09:09 GMT -5 by Deleted
That is what I think, too. The brain is the person. Like the hard drive and apps and whatnot on a computer. Consciousness, mind, "soul" -- emotions, desires, beliefs, etc. -- all in the brain.
ETA: Also like computers, I think people can be "programmed" as children. Not entirely, and programs can be overwritten to a large extent, but I think people are who they are in part because of long-running apps they've never considered deleting or upgrading. =D
Last Edit: Feb 10, 2017 21:29:59 GMT -5 by Christine