I have an idea relating to consciousness, which I consider extremely important, and I haven’t heard this idea before. So I don’t know if it’s something that is covered quite extensively in philosophy that I haven’t read, or if it’s just something that hardly anyone has thought of, or if I’m simply wrong. Hopefully this forum contains the kind of deep thinking, open minded people who will be able to review my idea and give me rational feedback on mistakes in my thinking, or if what I’m writing actually does make sense…
If I were to guess, I’d say that most non-religious folk believe that one is born once, one dies, and then one ceases to be conscious ever again, in any form.
Mathematically, however, there are problems with this theory.
Before I assign numbers to variables, and create formulas, I have to first define an expression I’m going to use. The expression is unique experiencer, or unique point of experience, or if you prefer, perhaps, unique perspective of experience explains it better. Whatever it is, it’s me, or it’s you. It’s that thing that people who believe in re-incarnation believe will be re-incarnated, and that thing that people who believe in heaven and hell, believe will go there. I’m tempted to call it a soul, but that might have not have a very well defined meaning, and it’s not some kind of mystical spirit that could remember past lives. It’s also that single thing that is exactly the same in your future self, your present self, and your past self, regardless of whether you lose your memory, or have every atom in your body replaced, one at a time. It’s that thing that, in your or my case, there appears to be only one of in the entire universe.
Perhaps a quick example will help here, so imagine you only care about yourself. You know that your memory is about to be wiped and you’re going to be cloned. They’re going to create an exact duplicate of yourself, with exactly the same structure on the atomic level. So, who do you choose to own your money and possessions after the procedure? Typically people would choose the original person, because they believe they are a unique experiencer.
Following me so far?
Let me convert this theory into numbers and show you the problem:
Number of potential unique experiencers = ∞ (infinite)
Number of me (single unique experiencer) = 1
Ask yourself this question, “What is the probability, therefore, of me being born?”
The answer is 1/∞ (number of me / potential unique experiencers). I call this infinitely improbable.
In other words, before I was born, the chance I would be born, given a finite period of time was infinitely improbable.
Lets carry on the maths…
One could say that, given an infinite period of time, one could therefore be born, but it doesn’t work like that, because only 13.8 billion years have passed. I say only, because 13.8 billion / ∞ = almost nothing. In fact it doesn’t matter how many years have passed, because anything / ∞ = almost nothing.
So, the fact that the infinitely improbable event of my birth has occurred, means that it is infinitely unlikely that my premise is right.
The ∞ is wrong (there must be a finite number of potential unique experiencers).
So, how many potential unique experiencers are there then? The only logical number that I can think of is 1. If there were more, then there would have to be some kind of pool of unique experiencers that gets re-used. For example, if there were an arbitrary 1 million, then after the millionth life form is born, the first gets re-used. But what happens if there are 1,000,001 alive simultaneously? Is the newest unique experiencer two life forms?
The simplest answer is that we are all simply, a single, unique, experiencer. We are all me. In the same way that I am my future self and my past self, I am you, and I am the slugs in my garden.
A possible model for my theory is that we don’t simply exist as a single point in time (one dimension). We exist in at least two dimensions: time is one dimension and consciousness generators is another. By consciousness generators I mean things like brain cells or neurons. I’m not a neurologist, so I don’t know exactly what the second dimension is, but it makes sense to me that the smarter a life form is, or the bigger its brain, the more likely we are to be that life form at a given point in two dimensions, where one dimension is time.
Well, that’s my theory anyway. If you’re an open minded critical thinker and have any thoughts on this, please feel free to share them. I’m more interested in being less wrong, than being consistent with what I’ve written.
For more of my thoughts about this theory, check out my other blog post: