Hume argued, not that there’s no self, exactly, but that there’s no substantial self.
I’m not entirely persuaded. Consider the following imaginary case:
You’re on a base on the Moon. The oxygen delivery system has malfunctioned and you’re suffocating to death. You step into a machine that scans everything about you down to the last detail, including all your neural pathways and hence all your memories, and transmits this information to Earth. On Earth, the information is used to produce an exact duplicate of you. The “you” on the Moon dies of oxygen deprivation, but the “you” on Earth goes on living. So who are you: the one who died on the Moon, or the one living on Earth?
It seems to me that there’s a duplicate of me on Earth, and that what’s left of the original me is on the Moon. Why? Because although the duplicate has all my memories and experiences and is just like me, I am not the subject of those experiences. My experiences are mine because they happened to me, not merely because they happened.Continue reading