Consider the following three scenarios:

1) Two clones with the same memories, feelings, etc. are in a room. Clone A is killed by Clone B. Clone B immediately loses all memories of Clone A and the killing. Does the consciousness of Clone A exist remain alive in Clone B?

2) Two people are alive at different times. They are identical, live in the exact same circumstances, perform the same actions, and die the same way. Throughout this time, they have the same thoughts, feelings, etc.. Do the two people exist as significantly different entities or the same one at two different times?

3) Two clones are alive at the same time. They perform the same actions, live in the exact same circumstances, and die the same way. They have the same thoughts, feelings, etc.. Do the clones have any significance as separate entities? What is the deeper philosophical meaning we can derive of there being two different people who hold no significance as separate entities?

  • In 1: Wouldn't the act of killing Clone A thereby cause Clone B to possess a different consciousness? 2: Doesn't the time of living affect the consciousness of each person? 3: No. There is nothing which separates them (assuming I read the question properly).
    – 000
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 2:06
  • I will edit the question in 1 to make it work better. In two, they are living in a different time, but everything they perceive is the same, so I don't see how time itself influences them. Thanks for responding.
    – okarin
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 2:08
  • I have altered question 1 to be more in line with what I was thinking about.
    – okarin
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 2:09
  • Your edit on question 1 resolves my issue. Question 2, however, remains problematic. What is it that makes it possible to form the distinction between Time A (the time of clone A) and Time B (the time of clone B)? And, if there is a distinction between Time A and Time B, aren't the clones also different since time itself affects the universe? (We would not describe (x,y,z,1) as the same as (x,y,z,2) in physics, for example.)
    – 000
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 2:16
  • The second situation I describe is a hypothetical one in which a person exists, perhaps fifty years after the death of another. We assume that technology has not developed during this time, society has remained the same, and knowledge of current events, international relations, etc. is minimal, so the two people are both equally unaware of what goes on around them. In this hypothetical scenario, the two could live in two different times in the same exact circumstances and have the same thoughts.
    – okarin
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 2:20

1 Answer 1


Nothing you write has any great dependency on consciousness. Let's forget people and say that these are two computer programs that can compute a self-checksum (a number that is unique for programs that differ).

(1) Program B deletes Program A. Is Program A's checksum result still there? No. B's is. It's the same, but not stored as part of A but rather as part of B (in a different part of the computer's memory).

(2) Programs A and B run on different computers but do the same thing. Are they significantly different programs? Well, it depends entirely what you mean by significant, doesn't it? They're as similar as they can get aside from running on different hardware. Make of that whatever you wish. If they are, say, virus checkers, it might be very significant that both A and B existed, despite doing identical things.

(3) Programs A and B...wait, it's the same question. Who cares, in this setup, whether the programs run simultaneously?

So: different people are different. If there happens to be a clone, it means that there are two people who have a lot of similarities, but they each have their own consciousness ("checksum"), which is computed as independently from each other as anyone's consciousness is from anyone else. And if you run across two of them, the significance of having two--from the perspective of others--depends entirely on what they do.

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