/r/philosophy Open Discussion Thread | February 19, 2018

I've recently thought of this argument regarding the nature of consciousness, and not had a chance to discuss it in-depth with others. Sorry if it isn't very well formulated. Here it goes:

Imagine you are walking in a park, and somewhere, unbeknownst to you, an exact copy of you is made, atom by atom, whereby the only difference between you and your clone is the position in space. Now, would your experience of life – your stream of consciousness – change? Would you somehow magically know that this copy was made, just due to it being an exact copy of you? Most people would say no, you would go on about life, never knowing that the copy exists.

Now say the copy was created next to you, again, you would perceive it to be a different thing than you. Yet, to an outside observer, you would be indistinguishable, the observer could do tests all day long and never observer a difference. So now the question, how are you different the copy?

You could say that there is no difference. Yet when you experience life, when you are conscious, you are conscious within your body, not the body of your copy. So the difference, that only you can observe, is "your" experience of the universe through one of the bodies and not the other.

I'm using the word "you" very loosely in the last sentence. I'm trying to make the point that there is a differentiating property between the two bodies, which is "your" presence within one of them and not the other.

This applies not only to perfect copies of your body, but also to all conscious thing, or all things for that matter. You(the reader) are different from everything else in the universe because you(the reader) are within your body, and not someone else's.

You could now make the case that all other beings in the universe must either have or not have a "self" of similar nature. But, as stated in the third paragraph, there could be no physical difference between two bodies an yet there would be a difference, that only "You" – the consciousness – could observe. All other beings can also have a similar "self" that is unobservable to you and the rest of the world, and therefore, by definition, nonexistent, as a prerequisite for existence is for something to be possible to observe.

So now we've established that you are special. Yes you, the reader! You have been chosen by a 100% probability, to be the only human with an observable – existent – "consciousness".

You may still subscribe to the simulation hypothesis if you find the arguments of Nick Bostrom, and subsequent scholars, convincing. But you must make one strong distinction. If all matter was simulated, you, your "consciousness", your "self", still cannot be simulated.

This open a whole new can of worms, are you one of the creators of the simulation, plugged into an HTC Vive, with no memories, just testing out this "Game"? Maybe. It wouldn't matter, as you wouldn't be able to prove this.

Consciousness, in the sense I used the word here, by definition cannot be made from matter. And therefore, cannot be simulated. My current thinking is that the origin of this "self" comes from some universe in a higher level of simulation than ours, where the laws of physics, or even logic, could be different and allow consciousness to exist. But I have no interest in arguing that now.

/r/philosophy Thread