There are three assumptions for the question. 1) The flow of time is permanent. 2) The universe is repeatedly destroyed and recreated. 3) The initial physical structure of a brain at birth determines the phenomena of "I" or "self" or self-awareness.

If the flow of time is unending and the physical universe repeatedly exists that means the probability of "I" existing is also possible an endless number of times based on the fact that I already exist. The probability is greater than 0 that I am here. Consider an unending number of universes, should this imply that I am stuck in a loop of endless life.

Would this mean that when we die, after a large number of reoccurring universes we re-attain consciousness in a universe that was able to generate the same exact physical structure of my brain, therefore "I"?

  • If "the universe is constantly destroyed and recreated" also the barin is. If the brain is "constantly destroyed and recreated" what is "I" ? Jun 18 '18 at 13:43
  • I am assuming "I" is the structural specificity of the brain
    – Anirban
    Jun 18 '18 at 13:45
  • 1) Permanent cannot be defined outside of time and therefore time or any of its properties can't be permanent. 2) What does it mean constantly? Is it happening on parallel?
    – rus9384
    Jun 18 '18 at 14:05
  • I edited to fix some grammar issues and hopefully express your intent better. If you think I did not, you may roll back what I did or even continue editing it as appropriate. Welcome to SE. Jun 18 '18 at 15:27
  • 2
    Unfortunately, speculating what would be the case under some quaint assumptions about the universe is not a question about philosophy as understood on this site, see our Help Center.
    – Conifold
    Jun 18 '18 at 17:07

If we assume for the sake of argument that there is an infinite number of universes, either at a time or over time, the probability (<1 but high) is that at least one universe will contain an exact replica of you since there is an infinite number of chances of this occurring. The probability is 1 if all the universes are precisely similar, which would also entail, if one or more universe had an identical history to our own, that that the replica(s) would exist simultaneously with you.

But the 'infinite number of chances' does not entail that your precise replaca will or does exist at the same time as you; and no replica of you actually is you.

One possibility is, however, that the materials of which you consist are reconstituted in another universe, so that you are literally re-created. Presumably, though, you could only be re-created after you had ceased to exist, which would mean that you would go out of existence in one universe and come back into existence in another - rather as a dismantled clock is taken apart one work bench (and so passes out of existence as a clock) and put together again on another work bench (as the same clock).

  • "You could only be re-created after you had ceased to exist", are you talking about my self-awareness here? Because you also mentioned there could be many replicas of me at an interval of time or over time.
    – Anirban
    Jun 20 '18 at 13:35
  • Thanks for question. If you were re-created it would be your present self-awareness that returned to existence. I assume that your self-awareness has an essential association with your body such that in re-creating the body the self-awareness would be re-created too. This does not necessarily imply physicalism - here, that self-awareness can be reduced to or otherwise identified with a physical (bodily) state. Self-awareness might be a supervenient state or property that also returns when your physical (bodily) state returns to existence.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 20 '18 at 14:45
  • The lead-in statement is false. Time appears to be a manifold, which makes it 'Hausdorff'. So there are only countably many universes in succession. But the range of reals is uncountable and unbounded. The set of ranges of total energies successive universes might take still has probability zero of overlapping. Since the quantity of matter determines a lot of fine structure, there really is not a nonzero likelihood of any given structure coming together in a similar way in different universes. The odds here are not high, they are zero.
    – user9166
    Jun 20 '18 at 19:39
  • But I only said, 'If we assume'. I didn't say the assumption was correct.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 20 '18 at 20:52
  • @jobermark. I was only engaging in a thought experiment, sitting loose from physics. But I think physics should have its say in my answer, as a corrective to imagination. May I include your comment, duly acknowledged, in my answer ? I see comments as strengthening an answer, and your comment would add sobering ballast to mine.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Jun 20 '18 at 21:08

If your assumptions are taken to entail that successive universes are exactly the same, then in order to "loop" Time would have to be measured from outside of the universe. Otherwise it would just be the same thing happening at the same time: Just one iteration not repeating but proceeding for all of eternity. So if Time is somehow more universal than our universe then, yes our local universe might be looping. But not necessarily endlessly, because there can be other "more universal" factors that at some point interrupt it.

If on the other hand small changes are allowed between iterations, then the loop would become a "spiral", or a "branching tree", a "fractal", even "all of the above". Anything goes when you invoke Eternity.


Question: Is it possible that we are stuck in a loop of endless life?

The answer depends on your point of view.

First, let’s consider this. You don’t need this universe to end and wait for a large number of reoccurring universes for the exact replica (both physical and mental) of you to appear. In one of the 10^20 or more star systems in this universe, which has been existing for 13.8 billion years old now and has from billions of years more to eternity to exist (depending on the presumed scenarios), your replica might have had already appeared, may be appearing now in other places of the universe, or will appear somewhere in the future of this universe. Now, do you consider any of these possible replicas “You” or just “replica of You”? And if there is a technology that creates exact replicas (both physical and mental) of you, and they are standing right in front of you now, do you consider them “You” or just “replica of You”?

If you consider them You, then you accept that you are all of them and all of them are you. And the answer to your question is likely to be: Yes, it is possible that you are stuck in a loop of endless life in this scenario of endlessly recurring universe.

But if you consider them to be just replicas of You, then the answer to your question is: No, your life ends in this universe. The others are just the replicas’ lives, not Your life.

In conclusion, it is quite possible that there were/are/will be exact replicas of you in this universe or in one of the endlessly recurring universes, but whether you are stuck in a loop of endless life depends on your point of view.

  • I don't get it. How could they be me? I'm here, they're there. So, unless I'm a scattered objected, they and I are distinct, no?
    – MarkOxford
    Jun 20 '18 at 17:04
  • I agree with @MarkOxford on this one, even if there are two exact replicas there is still difference in their instantaneous position in space. Person at position A with it's own perception cannot be the person at position B.
    – Anirban
    Jun 20 '18 at 18:02
  • I didn't say that they can be you. I said it depends on your point of view. So, for you, you and the replicas are distinct entities, and your answer to the current question "Is it possible that we are stuck in a loop of endless life?" seems to be "No, we are not stuck in a loop of endless life. The lives of the replicas (in the recurring universe) are the replica's life, not our lives. Our lives end in this universe - this life."
    – user287279
    Jun 20 '18 at 18:03
  • But for others, they may think otherwise. That's why this question has been asked.
    – user287279
    Jun 20 '18 at 18:06
  • If a = b, then a has every property b has. But the replicas have properties – such as spaciotemporal location – that I lack, and vice versa. There is no logically consistent position according to which I am the replica.
    – MarkOxford
    Jun 20 '18 at 18:47

I believe we experience life as a never ending loop but for different reasons. If Eternalism is correct (as many physicists believe), all times exists at once and the idea of the present moment being more real than the past or future is just a biological illusion. If that's the case, then what does it mean for our past and future selves to all be conscious for an infinite amount of time? I have to imagine that we're continuously retreading the same path through space-time that is producing the same experience over and over. The only reason we experience it linearly one moment at a time is our limited perception.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.