We are immortal in ugly way,according to David Lewis

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Alexander1304, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. Alexander1304 Registered Senior Member

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    Hello All,
    Lately I've reading a lot about many worlds, multiverse and immortality.One peace was the latest work of philosopher David Lewis,"How many lives has Schroedinger Cat?".He states "if there is no collapse,then you will not die,you will go on forever" .
    http://www.artsrn.ualberta.ca/pex/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/lewis.pdf

    "As you survive deadly danger over and over again,you should also expect to suffer repeated harms.You should expect to lose your lover,your eyes,your limbs ,your mental powers and health."

    "It is not to be welcomed but feared "


    Any thoughts? David Lewis is considered to be one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century.But maybe it is just theory or speculation abyway?...I became really depressed after reading it
     
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  3. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    It's pure speculation.
    Lewis wasn't taken completely seriously even by other philosophers.
    (And the article - which I skimmed - appears to be somewhat misinformed AND makes some unsupported assumptions).

    The quote you gave in the OP is, in engineering terms, complete bollocks.
     
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  5. Alexander1304 Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks for the reply.I had gut feeling that it's speculation,glad to see someone else thinks so
     
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  7. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    He actually refutes his own conclusion in the sentences quoted.
    If dying is a function [1] then so is the loss of a limb (although somewhat less drastic).
    Ergo no collapse = no limb loss, no lover loss etc.

    1 And that itself is a slightly specious argument.
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Barring the bio being faulty, AFAIK Lewis has no background in physics or any other field of science (which most do have that specialize in philosophy of science these days). But more significantly, his own modal realism and counterpart theory precede (don't derive from) any later interest in multiverse-like views of QM. So while this straying lecture-wise into the latter circa the end of his life might be of possible interest to some as a speculative romp or exploration, it's his former work that constitutes the meat and bones of the important niche he carved out for himself in philosophy.

    That's actually something I've mused myself about in the past: That if all these assorted branchings were available, it seems like it would be the ones where consciousness continued which we'd find ourselves in rather those which can't be verified anymore due to the absence of our perceptual awareness via death. It's simply following the consequences of what could result from what Max Tegmark mentions in bold below, rather than stopping there:

    In the early 20th century the theory of quantum mechanics revolutionized physics by explaining the atomic realm, which does not abide by the classical rules of Newtonian mechanics. Despite the obvious successes of the theory, a heated debate rages about what it really means. The theory specifies the state of the universe not in classical terms, such as the positions and velocities of all particles, but in terms of a mathematical object called a wave function. According to the Schrödinger equation, this state evolves over time in a fashion that mathematicians term "unitary," meaning that the wave function rotates in an abstract infinite-dimensional space called Hilbert space. Although quantum mechanics is often described as inherently random and uncertain, the wave function evolves in a deterministic way. There is nothing random or uncertain about it. The sticky part is how to connect this wave function with what we observe. Many legitimate wave functions correspond to counterintuitive situations, such as a cat being dead and alive at the same time in a so-called superposition. In the 1920s physicists explained away this weirdness by postulating that the wave function "collapsed" into some definite classical outcome whenever someone made an observation. This add-on had the virtue of explaining observations, but it turned an elegant, unitary theory into a kludgy, nonunitary one. The intrinsic randomness commonly ascribed to quantum mechanics is the result of this postulate. Over the years many physicists have abandoned this view in favor of one developed in 1957 by Princeton graduate student Hugh Everett III. He showed that the collapse postulate is unnecessary. Unadulterated quantum theory does not, in fact, pose any contradictions. Although it predicts that one classical reality gradually splits into superpositions of many such realities, observers subjectively experience this splitting merely as a slight randomness, with probabilities in exact agreement with those from the old collapse postulate. --Parallel Universes; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, circa 2003

    However, the calculations would have to allow some pretty crazy parallel versions of the universe to mutably arise in the course of that unfolding process; the kind that would enable one's experiences to continue with or without the deteriorating organic body which one began with. At any rate, the point of rival possibilities is to keep the mind from getting mired in dogmatic certainties or convictions; not to then believe one of such themselves or then perversely elevate it to that extent; or futilely fret over whether or not it can be verified.
     
  9. Alexander1304 Registered Senior Member

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    C C,so you support Lewis or reject him?
     
  10. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    I'm neither a Lewis scholar nor a unilateral Lewis critic (assuming he's been around long enough to become a subject of study himself like Kant or Wittgenstein or Quine -- which he probably has). He has a large body of diverse work which accordingly can't be "accepted or rejected" on a wholesale basis even by researchers who are properly informed about it. Euclid may have been the last person on the planet even rumored at one time to have produced a framework that held internally together 100%, so I'm not holding my breath in anticipation that Lewis accomplished the suspicious feat before his death.

    Arguments and thought-experiments in philosophy are often just intellectual "games" or curiosity stimulants (when they are not submitted as literal problem-solving in worldly affairs or constitute parts of the formal preconditions or "operating scheme" for a new system, etc). Kind of like the purist mathematicians' recreational fascination with evaluating the interconsistency of their own abstract products -- those which have yet to find an applied use in the everyday world or to acquire correspondence with anything concrete. Such papers are not to be treated like the "fact" of discovering a wino sleeping behind Rawl's Restaurant at 7:16 AM on August 14, 1911; or a hypothesis in science passing an experiment; or a model in elementary physics being employed because it is useful. Such philosophical papers might occasionally inspire a potentially testable construct in science, or even be used to buttress a POV in science as extra-disciplinary ammo. But they're not to be confused with the output of the methodological naturalism enterprise.
     
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    "A recent poll conducted among philosophers of the analytic school ranked Lewis the thirteenth most important philosopher of the past 200 years, and another ranked him as the third most important philosopher of the twentieth century."===http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lewis_(philosopher)
     
  12. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Here's another stab at trying to alleviate such yes/no anxiety via bypassing it as having an ontological status, and simply regarding it as an example of what analytic philosophy does: Dissect concepts. Similar to doing such to a frog in biology class (to see "what's in there", only here it is a descriptive anatomy rather than empirical).

    Lewis is essentially exploring what falls out of a particular idea -- or what a particular concept contains -- without literal concern for whether or not the idea corresponds to an entity or situation that is actually the case. This is when philosophy is purely recreational activity, an exercise in thought. The "idea" being analyzed here is a "no-collapse" view of the quantum wave-function. Which does not necessarily even involve "many-worlds". As Lewis says in a footnote:

    "This is not yet to say that whenever anything branches, the entire world branches. The extra hypothesis of worldwide branching, which seems to contravene Schroedinger evolution and serves no obvious purpose, was apparently supplied not by Everett (though his writings are so austerely mathematical that it is sometimes hard to tell what he means) but by Bryce DeWitt [1973a, 1973b]. Without this added extra, `many-worlds interpretation' is no longer an apt name for the no-collapse hypothesis."

    In addition, Wojciech Zurek's so-called quantum darwinism approach makes use of decoherence [or discards the Copenhagen Interpretation's collapse] while remaining agnostic / neutral about a consequence of "many-worlds".

    Lewis introduces something that is not part of conventional "no-collapse" canon: The "intensity rule". It is from this that he seems to eventually derive the conclusion that the mind or conscious experience or whatever keeps continuing in those splintering branches where it still survives (somehow). His reason(s) for introducing the "intensity rule" are below:

    LEWIS / START... The no-collapse hypothesis was almost ignored for many years, but now it has suddenly come into favour. Many like it, of course, because a collapse law looks like a gratuitous blotch on an otherwise elegant theory. (We saw how repugnant some of the collapse hypotheses were that we considered. Others are worse. We did not even consider the hypothesis that collapse takes place just when a quantum system interacts with a classical system, that is, a system that cannot be thought of as quantum-mechanical; and that any system can be thought of as quantum-mechanical; and that collapse nevertheless does often take place.) Others like it because it lets us apply quantum mechanics to the entire cosmos, with no need for the hypothesis that some outside observer performs measure- ments on the cosmos and thereby brings on collapse. Still others like it because stable macroscopic superpositions could hold enormous amounts of information in readily accessible form, thereby delivering enhanced computing power.

    We have an urgent problem: how does quantum mechanics now predict anything? And how can it be confirmed by the success of its predictions? Even if no-collapse quantum mechanics were the truth about nature, it's hard to see what reason we could have to believe it. For a hypothesis deserves our belief to the extent that it beats its rivals, not only individually but collectively, with respect to two desiderata: inherent plausibility and predictive success. It deserves our disbelief, ceteris paribus , to the extent that when we rely on it to guide our expectations of experience, we find ourselves often surprised by unexpected experiences. Under our previous hypotheses, the predictions of quantum mechanics were probabilistic predictions of the outcomes of collapses–but now we have taken away the last of the collapses.

    So we need some new way for no-collapse quantum mechanics to advise us what experiences to expect. It needs to tell the minds located on the branches of elaborately proliferating superpositions what experiences to expect, since ex hypothesi those are the only minds there are. And if such a mind is about to go into a further superposition, with different experiences for different branches of that superposition, it needs to be told to proportion its expectations of experience to the intensities of the branches. Else the advice given will not match the successful predictions of collapse quantum mechanics. Call this the intensity rule. It's hard to see how to justify the intensity rule. How bad is that? It's also hard to justify the chance rule that governs our expectations in a chancy world: if you know the chances of alternative futures, expect each one to a degree equal to its known chance. Yet the chance rule is undoubtedly correct. Can we at least get by with one mystery instead of two? No; the intensity rule and the chance rule are not at all the same sort of thing. There is no hope of reducing the one to the other by invoking an a posteriori bridge law identifying intensities with chances. Chances pertain to alternative possibilities, whereas intensities pertain to coexisting actualities. Likewise, expectations divided between coexisting actual branches (unlike expectations divided between alternative outcomes of a chance process) are not subjective probabilities. Subjective probability measures uncertainty; but, given enough knowledge of initial conditions, there is no uncertainty about what your branching futures will bring. Nor is there any uncertainty about which branch is yours: all of them are.
    ... LEWIS / END

    But again, immortality would eventually require whichever parallel universe one is embedded in after so many _X_ decades of survival to offer extraordinary means for continuing to escape death. Like having a civilization advanced enough to download one's psychological data-structure into a robot body or virtual reality. Or a cosmos so nomologically deviated from this one that it offered something akin to a spiritual afterlife. It would appear unlikely that you would have the same memories of this original life by the time you reached that late state, given the "sideways" chain of mediating, alternative realities one would have to "island-hop" to reach long-term stability again. So that saying "I'm still the same person I was back then" becomes questionable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    Fear of death makes humans slaves to fear. One can accept their fate or try to fight for freedom. If one can overcome his master, which is death, he can overcome fear and finally be free. People will come up with scenarios to free the mind from the slavery of fear of death. The fear begins in the mind, and can be ended in the mind. The author uses emotional side thinking driven, by the fear. The solution is immortality, so the shackles of fear are released.

    It is interesting that only human dwell on death. Animals dwell on death only when they face it. Maybe the purpose of dwelling on death is freedom from death.
     
  15. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Animals do not dwell on death because they do not know they are going to die. Humans are the only animals the have the curse/privilege of realizing we are all going to die, IMO.
     
  16. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

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    No Fear, just acceptance of life and own existence.
     
  17. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    You also have the privilege to escape that curse and realise you will live.
     
  18. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    We know that we are alive, but what do you mean, "realize you will live"? Are you preaching?
     
  19. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    Exactly what "realise you will live" means. You don't understand because....guess why.
     
  20. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    I do not understand because you are being coy.
    Life is very tenuous, I am alive now but I could die at any time, so you cannot "realize you will" live with any certainty. If you are talking about a supernatural afterlife then I suppose you could say "believe you will live" or "have faith you will live".
     
  21. Photizo Ambassador/Envoy Valued Senior Member

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    No, that is not why you do not understand me. You posit an answer amounting to a 'hail mary' launched by a blind quarterback a few hours before dawn on a moonless night.
    Good day, sir.
     
  22. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Uh, OK.
     
  23. andy rudolph Registered Member

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