Let us imagine lightning striking you so hard it disintegrates all your atoms and then, simultaneously, lightning strikes just a few meters from where you stood, somehow happening to rearrange all the atoms as you were before you disintegrated. The question now is did you really 'shut off' and then 'reappear' in the second instance? Or did you shut off and never reappear? Or did you experience two different realities? What if the lightning struck 10 different places, each time rearranging your body? Will you have 10 different perspectives of one body or will there be ten different bodies each with its own perspective ?

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    Before the question can be answered, it needs a more specific description of how the disintegration/re-integration process works. Then it will probably answer itself. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 23:52
  • This seems to be the Swampman thought experiment: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swampman
    – present
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 2:39
  • More relevant than such an physically impossible scenario is the very real scenario of our brain hemispheres and the condition of split brain. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 11:58
  • @curiousdannii yes you are correct. I cannot imagine 2 consciousnesses in one head either but apparently it is real.
    – Weezy
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


You might like reading about Parfit, his Reasons and Persons.

For what it's worth, I think a "person" stands in a direct causal relation with any further instance of them, and is not just an identical stucture of entities. This is also true to early Buddhism: as no two identical "persons" can ever exist from moment to moment.

I think I recall that Parfit says that "continuity" is given by the strongest causal relation between two moments. Why that ends up as as personal continuity, could perhaps be explained in terms of 'Buddha nature' -- our own place in the world. The mysterious question being why consciousness arises and ceases: not how it can be "unitary".

  • Why consciousness arises can be rephrased as Who am I. When you look at other people asking that question you can hand-waive it off as that person being an incredibly sophisticated machinery, but you know, inside, that the body you inhabit could have just as easily functioned as the rest of other "conscious" persons. Why you are and how is incredibly baffling. This is the exact query I'm trying to get at. I refuse to accept that physicality as we know it describes consciousness. What is so special about my physical arrangement that has my consciousness?
    – Weezy
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 14:07

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