Re: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Fri Sep 13 2002 - 14:05:45 MDT

Friday, September 13, 2002, 2:24:16 PM, Ben Goertzel wrote:

BG> You seem to be making the observation that the "higher self" (as
BG> some have referred to it) is one and indivisible -- is the same
BG> "core self" inside all of us. This is an age-old mystical
BG> observation which has a deep validity to it.

I think "observation" is the right word here. There are mystical
states (that can be achieved by a number of methods) where this core
self is directly experienced.

Without going into detail, when (if?) I experienced such a state I
found myself quite speechless -- and utterly convinced of immortality.
Immortality of consciousness, that is -- not the personal sort. And
convinced, also, of a striving-towards-Godness that is immanent in the
universe. I don't mean Godness in a traditional religious sense,
but rather in the sense of us all being fragments, perhaps, who've
forgotten our underlying unity. A struggling to wake up from this
dream and a sense that we're (or I AM, in biblical terms) close to
doing so. Perhaps akin to what Philip K. Dick meant by 'anamnesis'.

So much for mysticism.

As a geek, neophile, technophile, what have you, my (crude metaphor
ahoy!) left brain is fascinated with the Singularity and how to get
there: evaluating possible approaches to AI, drawing exponential
graphs, speculating on nanotech, uploading and the rest.

And I wonder if this technical path goes up the same mountain, just
from the other side, and meets up with the mystical path at the top.

Sometimes I wonder whether science and mysticism must meet and
integrate at some point before the top in order to get all the way to
the top -- that place where magic and technology become truly
indistinguishable (not just to those with lesser technology).

BG> However, this "higher self" or "deep self" or "raw core of
BG> awareness" (First as Charles Peirce called it) is not the same as
BG> the "psychosocial self" which individuates us and makes us "who we
BG> are", in the sense that I am different from Eliezer, who is
BG> different from my friend's housecleaner, etc.

Yes. And I don't know whether it makes sense to think in terms of
individual survival past the Singularity. My psychosocial self, me,
myself, "I" -- of course I desire it. At times that seems like a
selfish or fear-based desire though -- akin to an infant not wanting
to leave the womb. In my own case, I find it hard to clearly separate
my fear of death from my fear of pain from my will to survive from my
will for Something to survive.

Maybe the Singularity will let me *return* to the womb.


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