personal identity and continuity of subjective consciousness

From: Chris Capel (
Date: Fri Oct 28 2005 - 12:11:28 MDT

Here are some of my intuitions on the matter. Subjective consciousness
is completely formless. The information it contains is either one
bit--either you're conscious or you're a zombie--or no bits, if
there's no such thing as zombies. If I were to lose consciousness, say
by going to sleep, and wake up as another person, with her memories
and her habits, her whole brain, in other words, I would be identical
to her. I would be her. The fact that my subjective consciousness,
before I went to sleep, was inhabiting the brain of Chris Capel
doesn't make any difference at all.

So, I don't think it's meaningful to speak of identity and
consciousness as if they're somehow intertwined. They're not.
Consciousness is not continuous in humans anyway, so unless your
concept of identity allows that a person becomes new each time they
awake, then continuity of consciousness isn't a useful concept in
discussing identity. And if that is your concept of identity, then I
don't see how you could regard it as immoral to terminate the
continuity of an identity, since it's so easy to do and it happens
naturally so often.

Chris Capel

"What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to bat a bee? What is it
like to be a bee being batted? What is it like to be a batted bee?"
-- The Mind's I (Hofstadter, Dennet)

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