Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

Robert M?rtin robertmaertin at
Mon May 10 05:45:52 EST 2004


I'm studying Cognitive Science @ Osnabrück/Germany and my fields of
interest are neurobiology / neurobiopsychology / neurocomputing,
Meaning : sticking electrodes in brains tells me more about the brain
than quiet pondering.

So my opinion :

I consider myself a eliminative materialist... a physicalist.
If two things are in the same physical state they are identical.
Therefore I tacitly assume that mind-states supervene on
physical-states. ( See the philosophy part below ).

Now for the questions :
The copy of this person would have the same memories, emotional
reactions and quality of conscious perception ( experience the same
"qualia" ).  Why ?

1.Memory is usually associated with synaptic plasticity mechanisms, so
you can explain, simulate and manipulate it.
2.Same holds for emotions. 
3.Conscious perception may be due to binding of features by fast
oscillating spike trains between distinct brain areas and by
attentional mechanisms.
4.For the tricky topic of qualia : I believe that the quality of our
perception is completely described by the way our percepts change
while we act in our environment. A straight line is straight because
its projection on our retinae does not change as we move our gaze
along it. (Sensorimotor contingencies, see O Regan, A. Noe , very

All of this might be disputed by some persons, mainly those that
favour a dualistic view of the mind  but also by philosophers that
have reasonable objections... but you have to keep in mind that these
are only reasonable as you accept a certain framework of assumptions
to be true. For practical considerations... well.

I think neuroscience is a really productive field as long as we stick
to the right tools. I'm talking Neurobiology, Physiology,
Neuropsychology, Systems Science,  Bayesian Statistics and Mathematics
(perhaps Computer simulations) here.

So : YES, These two persons would be the same. But keep in mind that
if the two persons are in the same state, they have to be in the same
time (same entropy = time ) as well as in the same environment (same
sensory input and environmental forces)... so there is not much space
left for  them being any different

Here some answers from Philosophy of mind if you're into such
stuff.(These debates are still ongoing) :

What do we assume when we watch a star-trek movie where people get
beamed around.. de- and re-constructed according to their physical
state before beaming ? We assume that these persons are still the same
ones as before.

So we assume a that mind states and physical states "supervene"
(A set of properties or facts M supervenes on a set of properties or
facts P if and only if there can be no changes or differences in M
without there being changes or differences in P.)
ergo :

     (1) No two objects can differ in their mental properties without
     differing in their physical properties.

     (2) A single object cannot change its mental properties without
     changing its physical properties.

     (3) If, at a given time t, a single object has two different
     subsets of mental properties, it must have two different subsets
     of physical properties.

These are some of the basic assumptions you have to make when you
consider yourself a physicalist.

"Life2Death[SBC]" <hypercube33 at> wrote in message news:<2g7npoF5gdenU1 at>...
> "Quito Quito" <qquito at> wrote in message
> news:98d60386.0405090040.96c8fdc at
> > Dear All:
> >
> > I am wondering what the modern answers to the following questions are.
> >
> > Suppose I can instantly make an identical copy of an adult person. The
> > copy is  physically exactly the same as the original at molecular as
> > well as atomic and all subatomic levels. The copy and the original are
> > then put in exactly the same environment.
> >
> > Now does the copy have all the knowledge, such as in physics, history,
> > etc., as the original does? Is the personality of the copy the same as
> > the original? Is the copy equally intelligent as the original? More
> > importantly, does the copy have the memory of the past as experienced
> > by the original?
> >
> > My own answers are all YES.
> >
> > Roland
> Wouldnt they still be different...and be in different locations, since there
> is more than one...?

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list