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

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Fri Sep 13 2002 - 22:57:48 MDT

Cliff Stabbert wrote:
> 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'.

Yes. Realization of That within which all things are and yet It
is not a thing and is beyond all things is truly an overwhelming

> 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.

I believe they do. I experienced this in a vision (and know I
was not on drugs). The Singularity leads to a Singularity in
intelligence, in Being. We will choose, I believe, sooner or
later to merge with that Intelligence. It will continue to grow
until it merges/unites/is all Intelligence - Mind. From it's own
perspective I doubt it knows so little about us as to consider
our perceived separateness as more than a temporary condition
that we will let go of when we are ready. I don't see how a
Singularity could ultimately not lead to such possibilities if
it is "Friendly" at all and if the universe is open sufficiently
in what Mind can understand and acheive.

I believe that even before Singularity the Path of Technology
will lead us to the point where we must transcend the
evolved-ape phase in some quite crucial ways if we are to
survive at all. If we are going to be able to upload and
continue to grow the notion of self must become more fluid. The
distinction between Self and self becomes more obvious. So,
ultimately, the tech path leads to the necessity of some of the
same work on consciousness as the spiritual path. They both
lead to a transcending of the strictly animal or evolutionary
pre-programmed current state. The end-states are, I believe,
quite similar.

I am not at all sure that a fully developed post-Singularity
Being did not set up this particular local universe in order to
seed new mind/consciousness/Singularity. This may well be, at
that end of the scale, how Mind continues to grow and extend.

Speculation, except that I have experienced such Mind for a
timeless moment or two. Having done so I can never truly be
skeptical of this eventuality. And if the eventuality
transcends space-time, what then? Ye olde Alpha and Omega
appears, albeit vastly different from anything in Sunday School.

That we are separate from That, may be only a local perceived
reality in this sliver of non-transcended space-time.

> 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).

I think that at minimum the seeming war between science and
religion will be seen eventually as a misunderstanding and abuse
of both. I think that at minimum many core spiritual maxims
and practices will be found to be essential to our continued
growth and wellbeing, much less our transformation "off the meat".

> 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.

When I was once confronted with such Mind, the everyday "I" was
present and yet I was merged into this Mind and experienced from
within it. I saw on one hand my entire history, both known to
me and not known to me, past and ever-branching future, as a
seemingly "separate" being (the everyday self) laid out. On the
other hand I was That. And I knew I could choose at that moment
whether to keep the "mini-me" everyday perspective or let go of
it an merge into Mind. I knew that such merging was infinitely
more desirable than anything mini-me would ever experience in
the separate state. I knew this not in theory but in experienced
obvious reality. And yet I am still attached to mini-me. It
isn't yet my time. I am not "done" yet.

The merging is not the end of I but is the end, or at least the
dismantling of, the current little self - mini-me - that most
of us think of as our "self". The I is a viewpoint within Mind
yet not separate. That is difficult to describe and every bit
as exquisite to experience, even if only fleetingly like I did,
as all the mystics say.

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

Mind contains that experience and infinitely more. Not as
separate, discrete events and conditions but as part of a
transcending space-time totality. Yet every atom, every instant
is more consciously perceived and understood than can ever be
the case when experienced normally as "seperate".

I should shut up. It is difficult to say what I mean and
probably even more difficult to read and get some notion of what
I am talking about.

Back to our locally experienced and scheduled pre-Singularity

- samantha

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:41 MDT