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The Phenomenal Self$
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Barry Dainton

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199288847

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288847.001.0001

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The Topology of the Self

The Topology of the Self

Chapter:
(p.364) 12 The Topology of the Self
Source:
The Phenomenal Self
Author(s):

Barry Dainton (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288847.003.0012

What if a stream of consciousness were to branch into two? What if a single self were to divide into two? Does the thesis that phenomenal continuity is subject-preserving collapse at this point? It might be thought that it must, since it is widely believed that if one subject were to divide into two, the resulting subjects must be distinct from the original subject since they are obviously distinct from one another. This chapter provides reasons for rejecting this (and various other) interpretations of fission. An alternative interpretation is developed which renders it possible to regard the products of fission as identical with both one another and the subject who divided into them. This interpretation construes fission in terms of branching personal time. As such it is just one instance of a more general phenomenon, the coming apart of personal (or proper) and ordinary (or external) temporal systems: time travel creates analogous dislocations. Fusion is susceptible to the same treatment. The general conclusion: lives are not necessarily linear, they can come in many shapes.

Keywords:   branching consciousness, division, fission, fusion, personal time, external time, time travel, shapes of life

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