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Are you the same person that started reading this question?


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Consider a photo of someone you think is you eight years ago. What makes that person you? You might say he she was composed of the same cells as you now. But most of your cells are replaced every seven years. You might instead say you're an organism, a particular human being, and that organisms can survive cell replacement

But are you really an entire human being? If surgeons swapped George Bush's brain for yours, surely the Bush look-alike, recovering from the operation in the White House, would be you. Hence it is tempting to say that you are a human brain, not a human being.

But why the brain and not the spleen? Presumably because the brain supports your mental states, eg your hopes, fears, beliefs, values, and memories. But then it looks like it's actually those mental states that count, not the brain supporting them.

But the view faces a problem: what if surgeons imprinted your mental states on two pre-wiped brains then will there be more of you?

How do you know who you are?

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An interesting thought, & yet I would also posit that most people are not the exact same person they were even 1 year ago. (No, I have no evidence or citations.) Some may consider themselves a different person from yesterday, though that may not happen every day. However, the same person as began reading your question? Yes, I would consider myself the same, as my following thoughts are things I have considered before.

I think it has less to do with cell regeneration/replacement as with experience. There is some evidence of "cell memory" (especially, examples with some people who've had organ transplants & exhibit different personality traits post-op), & this may hold true, but most people don't have that situation to deal with. Life, living, & personal growth happen with time & experience, & those can change a person slowly or rapidly depending on the person & their particular understanding they gain through their experiences. Likely also, the way in which they can interpret those experiences.

I think there are both genetic/physical brain structure & experiential components that make up a person, especially their personality & mental state. So if a personality were imprinted upon a "wiped" or "blank" brain with a different genetic or physical signature, there would be differences, though they may not be immediate or immediately noticeable.

The more interesting question to me is, If my brain could be removed & fully re-engaged without damage or loss into some sort of host, would "I" still remain? Would there be a host in which I could continue to function as myself, continue to learn, experience, & grow? Or would there be a lack of "soul" or some essential part of the body/brain/personality mash-up that would render the brain simply an AI processor to an automaton?

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If we cloned a human that grew to adulthood, would it still have the same personality of the original it was cloned off of?

I would think that it depends if the clone also had memories and understandings cloned with it. Does the clone 'remember' and 'know' what they have experienced and do others treat this clone as the original or as a clone of the original. If all are in the affirmative then i don't see why not.

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