Q1. If John disappears instantaneously at time t1 and is reconstructed at time t2 with exactly the same atomic arrangement, is John's consciousness in that new body?

Q2. If the answer to Q1 is yes, what if two new bodies were reconstructed at t2 instead of one? Which is "myself" from John's point of view?

  • I recommend writing down on a piece of paper all your assumptions about the nature of consciousness and the material body, before searching for new answers. You will find answers to many of your questions by investigating your assumptions. Dec 12 '20 at 23:21
  • @MarinoProton Is the answer indeterminate without artificial assumptions?
    – PONPON
    Dec 13 '20 at 4:18
  • 2
    This scenario is known as the teleportation paradox, it was proposed by Parfit in Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons (1987). We have a discussion under Why do philosophical discussions of the teleportation paradox seem to ignore the physics involved? Assuming that all replicas "feel" continuous with the original, the question is empty. As Parfit argues, "any criteria we attempt to use to determine sameness of person will be lacking, because there is no further fact".
    – Conifold
    Dec 13 '20 at 18:49
  • I don't understand why it is downvoted -2. Please comment.
    – PONPON
    Dec 13 '20 at 19:15
  • 1
    I did not downvote, but the form of the post suggests that you simply copy pasted an assignment. It does not show any of your own efforts to answer the questions or prior research, and does not give any context in which the questions came up.
    – Conifold
    Dec 13 '20 at 22:33

I heard a discussion of this issue which made a useful comparison - that brains are not clockwork but more like a steam engine, with information as a 'working fluid'. That is, we are not just the infrastructure which can be in a stable or frozen condition, instead we are something dynamic, a constantly updating state integrating many ongoing processes. So you say atom arrangement, fine. But also currents & waves moving through us.

Human resuscitation is a very interesting area, with a lot of recent progress. There are indications humans may be able to hibernate, lowering core body-temperature & other bodily processes including mental activity, to dramatically decrease calorie consumption. Maybe if we can understand more about how to safely shut down this might help. They are talking about using this state for space travel, and for surgery.

I feel until we get closer to understanding brains & making analogues, we are just giving opinions. You should note atomic-fidelity is not required for cellular-scale organisation, but also that we likely need to understand ongoing processes not just momentary states.

As a Buddhist, the idea identity is a process not a state or essence separate to processes, is very familiar. Who is 'really' who would be about legal definitions, custom, and emerging practices to deal with real tensions in practice. In a very real sense we can be only loosely connected to who we used to be in our own lives - the continuity might be greater for onlookers like parents, than something we experience ourselves..


I think you are confused by some familiar terms like mind, memory, intellect, personality, consciousness etc. Any way I believe your question is about consciousness.

Atomic arrangement would affect your intellect; but not your consciousness.

Answer to Q 1:

Yes. Consciousness would be the same.

Since it is incomparable, it is illogical to say big consciousness or small consciousness. Time may affect memories, personality etc. But TIME DOES NOT AFFECT CONSCIOUSNESS. The number or arrangements of atoms also does not affect consciousness. It is incomprehensible. Verse 13:16 implies to consciousness.

Are you in an unconscious sate when you are in deep sleep? What is the difference between John's consciousness and yours while both of you are in deep sleep?

You needn't ponder too much. What change happens to a patient's consciousness after brain surgery? Does he run away from his relatives after the surgery...? What would happen to his consciousness if one of his kidneys is removed or transplanted? So, if you wish you can believe that his consciousness is there. (I don't wish to correct your belief.)

Any way the changes may happen in his memories due to the change in the arrangements of atom...it is clear from the above instance.

Answer to Q2:

If two new bodies were reconstructed, both of them would claim that he himself is John. Normally nobody would/can say, "I am he himself; not myself." Each one wouldn't give up his own identity. (I didn't forget Tat tvam asi.)

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitanya_(consciousness)
  2. https://www.gita-society.com/om-purnamadah-purnamidam/
  • Sources, please. Otherwise, this is just an opinion.
    – RodolfoAP
    Dec 13 '20 at 6:01
  • You've added a link to an esoteric page, which has not even the name of the author. Now, it's worse: an opinion based on an esoteric page. Sources must be part of the answer.
    – RodolfoAP
    Dec 13 '20 at 7:55
  • @RodolfoAP: Now you may refer the links and confirm the ideas I posted here is sourceless or not. Dec 13 '20 at 8:30
  • Good. Now, you cannot put such a categorical answer like "Yes."; absolutisms are usually a sign of lack of context. You start your answer with "According to chamanism..." (or indologism, or whatever corresponds).
    – RodolfoAP
    Dec 14 '20 at 10:20
  • @RodolfoAP: Some philosophies are not mere philosophies. Some are darsanas. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar%C5%9Bana So, with due respect I would like to say that I can't begin my answer with that clause. I believe the users would certainly put in that chamber (as you mentioned) when they go through the link if they are ignorant about darsanas. Also, I have given instances from daily life. They cannot be treated as a particular case or '-ism'. More over, I don't wish to give answers related to beliefs. Dec 14 '20 at 17:19

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