And if consciousness were only a phenomenon of the organization of matter, such as the humidity of water molecules

And if consciousness were only a phenomenon of the organization of matter, such as the humidity of water molecules

What is consciousness? How do we know who we are? How much consciousness is there in someone who remains in a coma? If we make an exact copy of the arrangement of our neurons and synaptic connections, will we preserve our consciousness?

They are philosophically thorny questions, and perhaps not even the questions are well formulated because they start from apriorisms, concepts that are difficult to define and a good dose of subjectivism. However, technologists trying to achieve immortality approach the question in a more practical and mechanistic way, as if it were Newton’s law .

Water and conscience

For many, the phenomenon of consciousness, then, would only be the product of the particular organization of the particles that make up the brain , as the phenomenon "humidity" is the product of the special organization of water molecules in a pattern that we call "liquid. »And which differs from the« gas »or« solid »standard, which are not humid (vapor cloud and ice crystal, respectively).

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As Swedish cosmologist Max Tegmark explains in his book Life 3.0 :

As with solids, liquids and gases, I think that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, with properties that go beyond those of its particles. For example, falling into a deep sleep extinguishes consciousness, simply by rearranging the particles. Similarly, my consciousness would disappear if I were to freeze to death, which would rearrange my particles in a more unfortunate way.

This pragmatism governs Alcor, in Arizona, the largest of the four cryopreservation facilities in the world, three of which are in the United States, while the fourth is in Russia. As Mark O’Conell explains in his book How to be a machine :

Hundreds of people have arranged for their bodies to be transferred here as soon as possible after clinical death has been determined, for a series of procedures to be performed on them (including in half the cases the separation of the head from the body) that allow their cryonic suspension until science finds a way to bring them back to life.


Everyone trusts that when they die, their bodies will be preserved in liquid nitrogen, waiting for the day when some future technology might allow for their thawing and resuscitation, or that the pound and a half of neural networks that housed their skulls can be extracted, scanned, and recovered. all the information they stored, turned into code and transferred to some new kind of mechanical body not subject to decrepitude or death or other human defects .

However, will your consciousness be preserved? Perhaps we should not ask such questions and act with that mechanistic pragmatism of some technologists. Perhaps we are facing one more example of the paradox of Theseus, according to a Greek legend collected by Plutarch :

The ship in which theseus and the young men of Athens returned (from Crete) had thirty oars, and the Athenians kept it until the time of Demetrius of Falero, as they removed the damaged boards and replaced them with new and more resistant ones, of So this ship had become an example among philosophers of the identity of things that grow; One group argued that the ship was still the same, while the other claimed that it was not.

Which may also lead us to ask if we are still teleporting :