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Metaphysics Discussion

Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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This thread is to concentrate general philosophical and scientific discussion of the true nature of reality into a single thread. Is our universe deterministic or indeterministic? Do we have free will or not? Is time linear or cyclical? All of these and more are such topics that I look forward to exploring and speculating on.

I'd like to start with this: Does the universe have a defined beginning and end or is it something eternal? If it does have a beginning, then what had preceded it, if anything? How can something come from nothing, and once it is something, how can it return back to nothing from whence it came? If it is eternal, then how can a purely abstract concept such as infinity apply to something physical such as the universe? Or, is the truth a combination of the two, with a defined beginning but no end? Do we even exist at all or is our conscious awareness merely an illusion? one of these options must be true, yet all of them seem completely nonsensical! Is it a futile task to try and make sense of it? What are the implications of these questions for us?

The simulation theory interests me a lot and I think it may hold a lot of weight. If the universe has a definite beginning and thus spawned from absolute nothingness, then isn't that a clear indication that our entire reality is a vastly sophisticated computer simulation? If this is the case, then I would assume that the base universe' existence must be eternal even if ours isn't.
 
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worried_to_death

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I think there is very good evidence that all the energy/spacetime of the universe had a 'beginning' 13.7 billion years ago in an initial singularity (e.g. cosmic microwave background radiation, redshift of stars/galaxies).

But it seems bizarre that the energy contained in the initial singularity just emerged randomly out of pure nothingness (if 'nothingness' can even be meaningfully used to describe a metaphysical state or condition. The more you try to pin down what 'nothingness' could 'be like' in reality, the more slippery it gets. Even L. Krauss' use of 'nothing' isn't strictly nothing, since there is quantum activity occurring on his 'universe from nothing' model.)

So I think it's useful to distinguish quantum nothing (QN) which is a state of 'empty space' but still includes energy fluctuations and electron-positron pairs and top quark-antiquark pairs popping in and out of existence, from philosophical nothing (PN), which describes a state of pure emptiness without even any of these fluctuations or particles popping in and out of existence.

Given the difficulties associated with the idea of something emerging from (PN) nothing, it would seem that the initial singularity had to have occurred at the very least from a state of (QN) nothing. But QN is still something. So something (initial singularity) came from something.

That's all I'll say for the time being.
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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If philosophical nothingness is impossible, then that must mean that existence must have always existed? If that's the case, doesn't that violate infinity not being applicable as a tangible concept? Or does the absence of light render the concept of "time" completely meaningless? Wouldn't quantum fluctuations at planck length count as events for which time would necessarily exist?
 
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worried_to_death

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then that must mean that existence must have always existed? If that's the case, doesn't that violate infinity not being applicable as a tangible concept
It wouldn't violate real infinity not being applicable.
If PN is impossible, that still leaves room for some form of potential infinity within which existence can operate.

Actually there is another really interesting example of how a real infinity causes logical problems when you try to apply it to reality, hilbert's hotel paradox.

You have an hotel with infinitely many rooms and infinitely many guests fill all the rooms, it's full.

But then a guest arrives, and sees all the rooms are full. Before he leaves, the manager tells him he'll vacate a room for him.

He puts the guest in room 1 in room 2, the guest in room 2 in room 3, the one in room 3 in room 4, 4 in 5, 5 in 6, 6 in 7, and so on, and this process of room changing happens for the infinitely many guests in the hotel.
So the guest is able to stay in room 1 because it's been vacated by the process. Even though the hotel was full. Paradox.

Even weirder, imagine infinitely many guests arrive, and find the infinite hotel to be already full. Before they turn away and leave, the manager tells them that he will be able to accommodate all of them.

He puts guest 1 in room 2, guest 2 in room 4, guest 3 in room 6, guest 4 in room 8, 5 in 10, 6 in 12, and so on, putting every guest in the room which is double their own room number. There will be infinitely many rooms vacated for the infinitely many new guests to stay in. Even though it was already full.

hilbert.png


I think that the real infinity which isn't countable that set theorists use is not something that can be part of the fabric of any kind of reality. It's a conceptual abstraction.
does the absence of light render the concept of "time" completely meaningless
Yes, if there is no energy or light occurring, then there would be nothing to be measured or to act as a universal measuring standard and therefore nothing could be 'happening' in a time-ordered sequence.

Wouldn't quantum fluctuations at planck length count as events for which time would necessarily exist?
I guess so. Some kind of weird relativistic time flow would have to be occurring, since it's electromagnetic fields which generate quantum fluctuations, and you can't get electromagnetic fields without a spacetime also existing.
It's highly abstract and unintuitive stuff, can't pretend I understand it all that well.
Or, is the truth a combination of the two, with a defined beginning but no end
I think that's a plausible description of just this universe on its own.
It had a defined beginning (although not from pure nothing), but won't have an 'end' if it expands forever until heat death. It is time -finite in the past but is potentially time-infinite in the future.
The simulation theory
What's your understanding of this theory?
Could you explain it?
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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What's your understanding of this theory?
Could you explain it?
Simulation theory assumes that our universe is a computer simulation within a host universe. There is a rational basis behind this and at some point in the future we may even make simulations! Why? Because it would be a way to learn how we came to be (ancestor simulations) or it would be to simulate the physics of the cosmos to better understand it. The possible options are as follows: a.) Civilizations won't make it to the level capable of making such simulations b.) we would refuse because it would be unethical or c.) we are in a simulation.

Of course, there are some logical problems with it but nothing that outright rules it out. It would also conveniently explain why our universe would have nothing before the big bang as well.

My personal opinion would be that it would be grossly unethical but science has a shady side to say the least!
 
_Minsk

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i did psychedelics a few times and i can say for sure there is more out there, more to perceive, our bodies are actually capable of seeing more which is out there. one time i could see trough the skin and saw the raw skull, blood vessels and eye balls from every angle. just by intention. i know some might disagree, especially those who haven't ever tried psychedelics, or haven't experienced it, but it was no hallucination. i love psychedelics exactly for that kind of reason, they let you perceive more

im also a huge fan of the simulation theory, it might actually be true, at least for some. quite a few people who have had nde's, report of being in a place of no material matter, maybe thats the kind of metaphysical space we head to in case consciousness exists beyond the physical space. they also report of a place of no time, might be plausible that something has created this space/universe in this kind of space (like in a hierarchy manner), some of the physical laws might be just part of this reality in order to achieve the goal which has been the reason for the creation of this universe in the first place .. kinda wild theories hahaha, hope it fits here, in case not, i will delete it, felt like posting it. i like this thread
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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i did psychedelics a few times and i can say for sure there is more out there, more to perceive, our bodies are actually capable of seeing more which is out there. one time i could see trough the skin and saw the raw skull, blood vessels and eye balls from every angle. just by intention. i know some might disagree, especially those who haven't ever tried psychedelics, or haven't experienced it, but it was no hallucination. i love psychedelics exactly for that kind of reason, they let you perceive more

im also a huge fan of the simulation theory, it might actually be true, at least for some. quite a few people who have had nde's, report of being in a place of no material matter, maybe thats the kind of metaphysical space we head to in case consciousness exists beyond the physical space. they also report of a place of no time, might be plausible that something has created this space/universe in this kind of space (like in a hierarchy manner), some of the physical laws might be just part of this reality in order to achieve the goal which has been the reason for the creation of this universe in the first place .. kinda wild theories hahaha, hope it fits here, in case not, i will delete it, felt like posting it. i like this thread
Of course it fits in here! I am highly skeptical of NDE's (near-death, not post-death) and hallucinogenic drugs (material) actually providing extra-sensory information (immaterial) instead of just your brain puking memories (material) but you're post is welcomed regardless.
 
GoodPersonEffed

GoodPersonEffed

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Simulation theory assumes that our universe is a computer simulation within a host universe. There is a rational basis behind this and at some point in the future we may even make simulations! Why? Because it would be a way to learn how we came to be (ancestor simulations) or it would be to simulate the physics of the cosmos to better understand it. The possible options are as follows: a.) Civilizations won't make it to the level capable of making such simulations b.) we would refuse because it would be unethical or c.) we are in a simulation.

Of course, there are some logical problems with it but nothing that outright rules it out. It would also conveniently explain why our universe would have nothing before the big bang as well.

My personal opinion would be that it would be grossly unethical but science has a shady side to say the least!
What do you think would be the purpose of allowing torture and cruelty, and creating simulated beings who experience suffering from not only minor things but such extreme things?
 
Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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What do you think would be the purpose of allowing torture and cruelty, and creating simulated beings who experience suffering from not only minor things but such extreme things?
To better understand the human condition? If they wanted as much of a 1:1 replication of how humans would act, I could see them programing consciousness. Perhaps consciousness is a necessity for driving human behavior and they couldn't program us without it? Who knows really but in a way, I can kind of see how it makes sense. Anyway, it's evil as fuck if it's intentional.
 
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worried_to_death

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i did psychedelics a few times and i can say for sure there is more out there, more to perceive, our bodies are actually capable of seeing more which is out there. one time i could see trough the skin and saw the raw skull, blood vessels and eye balls from every angle. just by intention. i know some might disagree, especially those who haven't ever tried psychedelics, or haven't experienced it, but it was no hallucination. i love psychedelics exactly for that kind of reason, they let you perceive more

im also a huge fan of the simulation theory, it might actually be true, at least for some. quite a few people who have had nde's, report of being in a place of no material matter, maybe thats the kind of metaphysical space we head to in case consciousness exists beyond the physical space. they also report of a place of no time, might be plausible that something has created this space/universe in this kind of space (like in a hierarchy manner), some of the physical laws might be just part of this reality in order to achieve the goal which has been the reason for the creation of this universe in the first place .. kinda wild theories hahaha, hope it fits here, in case not, i will delete it, felt like posting it. i like this thread
From what I've read about psychedelic (natural ones like DMT, psilocybin, not lab-made e.g. MDMA or LSD) experiences, there does seem to be something more going on than just an alteration in the brain's neurochemistry resulting in subjective hallucinations.
A lot of people claim feel more 'real' than normal perception, and change their whole perspective on life. Also there seems to be a pervasive symbolism to the experiences across cultures, like intertwined snakes appearing (reminiscent of the double helix of dna), and patterns and shapes which resemble the molecular structures of neurons themselves...

The impression from reading descriptions of the experiences is that one enters into a higher four-dimensional reality where experience of time and shapes is radically modified.

And there are those weird machine elves and other strange beings which don't seem to be amenable to rational explication or analysis.

Random fact: all the strands of dna in all your cells put together is about twice the diameter of the solar system.

Anyway, I don't want to derail the thread into a phenomenological analysis of psychedelics
Do we even exist at all or is our conscious awareness merely an illusion
I think that if there is awareness occurring, then that awareness has to exist, at least.

This is Descartes' 'I think therefore I am' -- whether or not all our conscious experience of a world is a deception or not (i.e. we could just be brains in vats being fed electro-chemical stimuli by aliens or scientists from another civilization, or Boltzmann brains, or in a matrix simulation), we cannot be being deceived about the fact that there is consciousness/experience occurring.

So in fact, there are too many assumptions in Descartes' original formulation, as he imported, without justification, an ontological 'I', into his epistemological foundations resulting from his method of radical doubt.

There are thoughts occurring, therefore those thoughts exist. You cannot doubt that thoughts exist, since a doubt is a thought, so the doubt undermines itself in a self-referential way.
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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Let's say hypothetically that our universe is indeed cyclical and the universe regurgitates a myriad of different universe configurations over time via quantum fluctuations and big bangs. If time breaks down between each iteration, wouldn't the numeral difference between each universe be meaningless? I think the numeracy problem may not be applicable because time is not a continuous stream between each iteration due to the breakdown of light and matter between each one. I have absolutely no solid scientific basis to justify this belief but I think it's philosophically intuitive. I just wanted to put this idea out there, may be complete crap.
 
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worried_to_death

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Let's say hypothetically that our universe is indeed cyclical and the universe regurgitates a myriad of different universe configurations over time via quantum fluctuations and big bangs. If time breaks down between each iteration, wouldn't the numeral difference between each universe be meaningless? I think the numeracy problem may not be applicable because time is not a continuous stream between each iteration due to the breakdown of light and matter between each one. I have absolutely no solid scientific basis to justify this belief but I think it's philosophically intuitive. I just wanted to put this idea out there, may be complete crap.
Not for a hypothetical external observer in its own 'meta' time flow, independent to the whole process.

But if the numerical difference really is objectively meaningless, then the whole idea of iterations and cycles and regurgitations is meaningless too. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Applying occam's razor, there really is only one iteration, according to that reasoning.
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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Not for a hypothetical external observer in its own 'meta' time flow, independent to the whole process.

But if the numerical difference really is objectively meaningless, then the whole idea of iterations and cycles and regurgitations is meaningless too. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Applying occam's razor, there really is only one iteration, according to that reasoning.
That hypothetical external observer would have to be god and I wouldn't hedge my bets in favor of his existence :pfff:

Yes, you're right. Each universe iteration would be exactly the same as what "came before." I'm not stating that's how it is but then again, the universe works in mysterious ways. With some of the things I've read, it seems more is possible than not. Infinity may seem impossible but there could always be some loophole.

There are thoughts occurring, therefore those thoughts exist. You cannot doubt that thoughts exist, since a doubt is a thought, so the doubt undermines itself in a self-referential way.
If a computer program that was scripted to make the statement "I think therefore I am," does that make it conscious?
 
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worried_to_death

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If a computer program that was scripted to make the statement "I think therefore I am," does that make it conscious?
No it doesn't...

But, it isn't at all obvious that the human mind is analogous to a computer program.

The physicist R. Penrose argues that the mind cannot function like an algorithm because of various features it has that could not be modeled computationally.

For example, in godel's incompleteness theorem, certain 'godel sentences' which can be constructed using a numbering system within a formal system (F) of arithmetic, encode statements of the incompleteness of that very system (i.e. that there will be statements in F which can't be proved or disproved using only the rules and axioms of F). But humans can come to know the truth or falsity of godel sentences (by intuition or just subjectively 'grasping' their truth-value), even though no computable algorithmic process can prove them.
Therefore the human mind cannot just be a biological computer program. I'm not saying Penrose is right, but his argument hasn't been falsified.

Penrose has linked human consciousness to the wave function collapse in quantum physics (since it's a non-computable process) and microtubles (since microtubles are found in neurons and could have certain quantum functions, so could be essential links between biology and physics).

But anyway, do you think it's possible to think you are conscious from a first person perspective yet not be conscious? Like, having the illusion that you are conscious? That doesn't seem to me possible. Even if all the contents of your consciousness is an illusion (i.e. the whole external world), the fact that you are conscious has to be true, since if you weren't conscious, there wouldn't even be an illusion. There would just be unconsciousness.

The 'I think therefore I am' argument is only applicable when a mind thinks it from a subjective viewpoint. It cannot be a proof of third-person consciousness.
It's not about a machine or person or any other entity just being observed to be able to mechanically enunciate 'I think therefore I am', it's about understanding its meaning from the inside, regardless even if an external world exists or not.

That hypothetical external observer would have to be god and I wouldn't hedge my bets in favor of his existence
Same..and if it does exist I wouldn't hedge my bets in favor of its goodness or benevolence.

Infinity may seem impossible but there could always be some loophole.
Yes.
It seems that even if the basic laws of logic and our own minds preclude real infinities from being a part of the fabric reality, that doesn't mean they cannot exist. Our laws of logic may be wrong or incomplete, and our minds may be limited and imperfect (which they most probably are).
 
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Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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@worried_to_death that's very interesting. I wonder what implications quantum computing will have once it comes out? I'll be long dead before then unfortunately.
 
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worried_to_death

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I wonder what implications quantum computing will have once it comes out? I'll be long dead before then unfortunately.
I have no idea. Maybe they will eventually be able to somehow download consciousness or memories onto quantum silicon networks, or cure all sorts of brain diseases.
It'll be part of the post-human, post-earth future probably, some brave new world.

Here's another topic for discussion, though it's not exactly metaphysical, so probably belongs in another thread: what do people here think about the Fermi paradox (that there is an apparent discrepancy between the lack of conclusive evidence for extraterrestrials, and various mathematical estimates for the high probability of their existence in the universe)?

Is it because there really is no other intelligent life in the whole universe (seems unlikely), or because they've died out already (because all intelligent life will eventually destroy itself somehow), or because they haven't been able to construct the technology to travel or communicate across vast light-year distances, or for another reason?

p.s . I don't regard the recently released pentagon footage of ufo's as 'conclusive evidence'.
 
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Wayfaerer

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I have no idea. Maybe they will eventually be able to somehow download consciousness or memories onto quantum silicon networks, or cure all sorts of brain diseases.
It'll be part of the post-human, post-earth future probably, some brave new world.

Here's another topic for discussion, though it's not exactly metaphysical, so probably belongs in another thread: what do people here think about the Fermi paradox (that there is an apparent discrepancy between the lack of conclusive evidence for extraterrestrials, and various mathematical estimates for the high probability of their existence in the universe)?

Is it because there really is no other intelligent life in the whole universe (seems unlikely), or because they've died out already (because all intelligent life will eventually destroy itself somehow), or because they haven't been able to construct the technology to travel or communicate across vast light-year distances, or for another reason?

p.s . I don't regard the recently released pentagon footage of ufo's as 'conclusive evidence'.
The Fermi Paradox has fascinated me for a long time. The universe is a gargantuan place so I don't think it is all that unreasonable that we haven't contacted intelligent life yet. Or, it could be a grim omen for what is to come for us [civilization collapse ---> extinction]

I think it's a toss-up on which at this point.
 
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worried_to_death

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The Fermi Paradox has fascinated me for a long time. The universe is a gargantuan place so I don't think it is all that unreasonable that we haven't contacted intelligent life yet. Or, it could be a grim omen for what is to come for us [civilization collapse ---> extinction]

I think it's a toss-up on which at this point.
I know. It takes 4 light years just to get to the nearest star.
That's 4 years travelling at the speed of light. And it's still within our milky way.
And there are 200 billion galaxies in the universe. It's just insane.
 
Underscore

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I know. It takes 4 light years just to get to the nearest star.
That's 4 years travelling at the speed of light. And it's still within our milky way.
And there are 200 billion galaxies in the universe. It's just insane.

THHGTTG, as always provides us with all the answers :happy:
 
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worried_to_death

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THHGTTG, as always provides us with all the answers :happy:
"That's why they call it space...because, well..there's a lot of it." -- random control room government worker guy, under siege 2
 
Wayfaerer

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I know. It takes 4 light years just to get to the nearest star.
That's 4 years travelling at the speed of light. And it's still within our milky way.
And there are 200 billion galaxies in the universe. It's just insane.
That's 200 billion galaxies in the known universe.
 
Wayfaerer

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Does Sean Carroll have a contact e-mail? I'd think he'd be too busy to read e-mails from the plebs but I have a burning question that I'd like to ask him.
 
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worried_to_death

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Does Sean Carroll have a contact e-mail? I'd think he'd be too busy to read e-mails from the plebs but I have a burning question that I'd like to ask him.
Yes, I think so.

Though he may not respond or it may take him a while to respond...

So you could also try mailing him a letter at the department of physics at caltech.
 
Wayfaerer

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Yes, I think so.

Though he may not respond or it may take him a while to respond...

So you could also try mailing him a letter at the department of physics at caltech.
Like regular mail? Dang, that's going to take forever. I'd like a professional's take on whether poincare recurrence applies to the universe or not.

Yeah, I'm kind of OBSESSED with this question, if you haven't noticed...
 
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worried_to_death

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Yeah, you can find his regular mail address by just typing 'contact sean carroll' in google, and it's the first page that comes up. His email address should also be there.

Actually I'd also like to know what he thinks about a poincare recurrence hypothesis, whether he thinks it's likely or unlikely or even a possibility based on current astrophysical/cosmological data..

You can always just try emailing him and see if he responds within the next week or so
 
Wayfaerer

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Yeah, you can find his regular mail address by just typing 'contact sean carroll' in google, and it's the first page that comes up. His email address should also be there.

Actually I'd also like to know what he thinks about a poincare recurrence hypothesis, whether he thinks it's likely or unlikely or even a possibility based on current astrophysical/cosmological data..

You can always just try emailing him and see if he responds within the next week or so
It was that easy huh?

I'll send him an e-mail and see what he has to say on the issue.
 
Wayfaerer

Wayfaerer

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Something I've thought about: If poincare recurrence were to apply to our hypothetical cyclical universe, then our future iterations would be completely different people even though they would be perfectly identical?

What if one were to be cryogenically frozen but revived at a later point in time? Would our subjective experience carry over or would it also be someone else? The same would apply for re-uploading one's consciousness onto a computer.
 
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