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http://existentialcomics.com/comic/1

I read the above comic, something which turned out to be a mistake because I have just enough understanding of physics, and philosophy to follow its line of reasoning, but not anywhere near enough to say if the scenario that presents for sleep, and survival of the self through the unconscious part of it is true, or just a thought experiment, and theory.

After having read it, I have some very rough nights, with the concept that if I fall asleep I die making it hard to fall asleep.

I understand that the creator of the comic is not arguing that falling asleep or losing ones stream of consciousness, but as I cannot imagine surviving the transporter, I suddenly find myself unsure if I can survive periods of unconsciousness.

Is unconsciousness during sleep something that a person should realistically fear? Obviously the body itself survives, as do the memories with one waking up -feeling- they are the same self that fell asleep. They will qualitatively be the same, but so too would the person emerging form a transponder. I am interested in if the person that wakes up is not just qualitatively similar, but numerically the same person that falls asleep? The survival of someone like me is irrelevant where this is concerned. My survival is what I am concerned about. As I imagine most other people are too.

On level of intuition, for me survival of both the body, brain, and memories seems important, but I dont know if they actually are.

Cheers! Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

  • According to Locke, personal identity (the self) "depends on consciousness, not on substance" nor on the soul. We are the same person to the extent that we are conscious of the past and future thoughts and actions in the same way as we are conscious of present thoughts and actions. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_identity – Hassan Jolany Aug 23 at 12:50
  • Meaning personal identity persists only the spam of one stream of conciousnes? Or that we are the same person in locke view so long as we remember the past? I dont fully understand what he means by concious of future thoughts? – A J Aug 23 at 12:58
  • Locke said:consciousness as that“whereby I am my self to my self,”and then continues by saying,If there be any part of its Existence,which I cannot upon recollection join with that present consciousness, whereby I am now my self, it is in that part of its Existence no more my self, than any other immaterial Being.For whatever any Substance has thought or done, which I cannot recollect,and by my consciousness make my own Thought and Action,it will no more belong to me, whether a part of me thought or did it,than if it had been thought or done by any other immaterial being any where existing – Hassan Jolany Aug 23 at 13:14
  • Hume begins his discussion of personal identity by, strikingly, denying that we have any idea of the self: “There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment conscious of what we cal our self; that we feel its existence and continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity. ...[But] from what impression could this idea be deriv’d? .. – Hassan Jolany Aug 23 at 13:18
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    It has had me legitmately scared to sleep since i heard that, but understanding that your numerically unique body survives, never turns off and the brain that create conciousness never loses its potential for conciousness even while unconcious. Tononis research has the brain becoming less integrated when you fall asleep, and more integrated when you wake up. Even still the thought of sleep deeply unnerves me. I dont think I will sleep unaided until I resolve this somehow. – A J Aug 24 at 21:49
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From a four-dimensionalist POV, I think you might represent periods of unconsciousness as holes in an object. Now, holes pose a whole load of philosophy questions themselves 😅 but the parts of a block of Swiss cheese are still Swiss and still connected, notwithstanding there being air-filled holes in them. (Or water-filled, if we put the block in water; or oil-filled, or mayonnaise-filled... Imagine the ontological status of a block of frozen Swiss in a pool of melted Swiss, eventually the block and pool will meld, but until then...?)

The "hole" of an unconscious moment might look, though, more like a separation of a block entirely. However, absolute unconsciousness is unprovable, so I would suggest higher-dimensional jumps and tethers as ways in which a linear temporal hole is bypassed vs. the dread of dissolution.

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  • This comments helps quiet a bit. Do you know if seeing yourself as a process of physical, mental etc elements is common or widespread? On level of intuition both physical and mental continuation seems important for survival. This example seems to be even more relevant if we assume we are in a computer simulation, or being with a soul acting as a numerically deaignator. Sometime we are something that is awake and concious, and some times we are something that is unconcious. – A J Aug 24 at 21:53

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