Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Regarding the trashcan, i think the threshhold you suggested depends on how strictly you define the properties of being a trashcan. If you define trashcan A as the molecules that make it up AND having the property of holding garbage, like we suggested yesterday, then the threshhold is immediate. As soon as you cut even the tiniest part off the trashcan, it no longer holds to the strict definition that we gave it earlier. It still has the property of being able to hold trash, but it no longer is made up of every molecule you defined it to have. Of course for all intensive purposes it is still the same trashcan, however if your going to be technical you must stick to the strict definition you assigned it in the first place. I think this goes along the lines of the argument saying that we are never the same person, ever. Since we are always changing, skin molecules constantly coming and going, we are never the same person - wait (i just thought of this now) - if this is true, how can you define yourself? how can we set that original definition if we are constantly changing?? wierd i never thought about that - anybody else wondering???

2 Comments:

Blogger linford86 said...

Don't worry Derek - you're still you, no matter how many molecules in your body are replaced every second! There is a way that you will remain you even if your molecules change. What defines what one refers to as Derek is not the set of molecules that compose you, but rather the configuration that those molecules assemble into. The fact that you are still able to think after having every molecule in your body replaced means that who you are is independent of the small scale details of the atoms and molecules which you are composed of. Rather, there is some emergent behavior that results from having a sufficiently large number of atoms and molecules that allows you to continue to be you. What's really bizare, and rather counterintuitive, is that there exist system whose behavior is not determined by their constituents, but rather by the collective action of those constituents. It is believe that biological processes work in this manner, and why your brain is distinct from a rock. For more information on emergent behavior, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_behavior

5:46 PM  
Blogger Joel K said...

I agree with Dan. Removing the tiniest piece from the trash can deosnt change what it is. If we see the trash can,its structure and know its function then it doesn't cease being a trashcan. However if you melted the plastic makking it up and formed it into something else then even though it still has the same matter, you would have never knew it was a trash can unless someone told you.

10:05 PM  

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