The Instigator
Torvald
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
Muted
Con (against)
Losing
5 Points

One is never the same person twice.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Torvald
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/5/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,921 times Debate No: 26927
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (66)
Votes (5)

 

Torvald

Pro

I shall be arguing that with the passing of every second, every unit of time, even at every individual instant, one is a different person. To be fair, this shall act as a clarifying statement only, and the first round will be devoted only to acceptance, greetings, etc. Greetings!
Muted

Con

I will assume that the BoP is on my opponent. I hope for a fun debate. I think this will have some use of semantics. I will not define them, leaving it to Pro to do so. Greetings!
Debate Round No. 1
Torvald

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent, Muted, for accepting this debate. I too hope that it will be fun.

It seems to me that a large part of this debate depends upon how 'person' is defined. I will make a rudimentary definition, though I wish it to be clear, I am not adverse to amendments upon definitions.

Person: A biological (physical) entity, comprised of cells and nutrients, as well as a specific mind, or set of neural patterns, with unique thought, expression, and identity.

This may not be a dictionary definition, but for now, unless my opponent has any suggestions for it, I think it shall suffice.

This much said, it is obvious that one is never the same biological entity for two separate instances. True, the neverending changes of the body may be very minor, between a single instance (an instance being a single event in time, with no energy, thus, totally stationary, and infinite, yet unimaginably brief), however, the changes are there, even down to the movement of a single electron [1].

The issue at hand, therefore, will be not whether one is the same physical person, but the same person mentally. I shall make my case short and forthright.

P1: The body is constantly changing, however minor the changes may seem.
P2: The mind is a product solely of the body.
C: The mind is constantly changing, however minor the changes may seem.

P3: The body is the first essence of a person.
P4: The mind is the second essence of a person.
P5: Both of these are constantly changing, however minor the changes may seem.
C: A person is constantly changing (and thus never the same twice).

And now to my opponent.

Sources:
[1] Life: The Science of Biology, Fifth Edition
Muted

Con

I would like to thank Torvald for starting this debate. I hope that it will be a great learning experience for me.

I accept the definition, and without more ado will go to the meat...

The changes Pro is talking about actually has a probability to occur again. Low, I know, but still a probability. Thus it is possible that one can be physically the same person more than once.

In the first paragraph of logic, (I like to call it this)
I agree with Pro"s P1, but not with his P2, or the conclusion.
I will first show why I disagree with the conclusion. It commits the fallacy of whole-to-part [1]. What is true of the whole may not be true of the parts. This leads me to why I think P2 is false.
What is the "mind"? Until the mind is defined, how are we to know the truth of P2? Furthermore, the mind is capable of being creative. Is that merely due to chemical reactions? Or is the view that that is due to chemical reactions itself due to chemical reactions?

In the second paragraph of logic,
In P2 and P1, there is something I don"t understand. What is the "essence"?

In all of this, there is the underlying assumption that change can never return something to its former position. Can this assumption be defended? I suppose not.

Back to Torvald.

1. http://www.fallacydetective.com... (Fallacy 5.)
Debate Round No. 2
Torvald

Pro

I acknowledge that the Con is correct: technically speaking, there is an extremely low probability of being physically the same person twice. However, this probability is so negligible that it can hardly be practically applied. No, I have not calculated the exact probability, and you're welcome to do so, if you so desire. But I think we can agree that the chances are slim.

Syllogism 1
It's good we can agree on the first one. I somehow expected contest on the second one.

To clear up any possible confusion about what a 'mind' is, I will quote a dictionary [2]:
Mind (noun)--
1. (in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.: the processes of the human mind.
2. Psychology . the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities.
3. intellect or understanding, as distinguished from the faculties of feeling and willing; intelligence.
4. a particular instance of the intellect or intelligence, as in a person.
5. a person considered with reference to intellectual power: the greatest minds of the twentieth century.

In this case, I believe definitions 1-3 can apply.

I have now answered what the 'mind' is. I think you will find that 'creativity' can be generated by an elaborate set of computer algorithms. Questioning the ability of complex organic reactions to generate curiosity and insight, or creativity, is questioning your own ability to think, for, whatever ancient mythology may speculate, all evidence undisputedly suggests that it is the brain that does one's thinking [1] (this can, in fact, be measured, by such devices as EEGs, CT scans, and MRIs [3],[4]). I would say that, while the burden of proof for the debate topic may be on me, if my opponent wishes to contest that thought is not a product of the body, the burden of proof would be on him.

Syllogism 2
I apologize for using such an ambiguous term as "essence" to describe a 'person,' though 'person' is also an ambiguous term (and has been the subject of philosophical musings since the dawn of philosophy). When I say "essence" of a person, I mean 'component,' or 'what makes up a person.' Since the two constituent items associated with a 'person' are mind and body, I described them as a person's 'essence.'

Underlying Assumption
Well, biologically speaking, if I understand cellular metabolism properly, which I should, from the start of life, cells are constantly dividing, then dying. So one may be made of the exact same molecules at some point, however unlikely, but not the same cells. Chemically speaking, it is impossible to isolate a stationary electron, both because of quantum mechanics and because an electron is never stationary [5]. Because electrons are always moving (and indeed, technically everywhere, within a certain confine, at once), molecules and atoms are always slightly different. One therefore is always changing, at a cellular level, and even at an atomic level. My knowledge of particle physics is not enough to know whether or not baryons are in a constant state of change as well, so I cannot say anything about changes in an atom except its electron(s). As far as I know, an atom is never exactly the same twice, and, therefore, anything built of atoms is never exactly the same twice.

Sources:
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://www.macalester.edu...
[4] Physics of the Impossible, Michio Kaku
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Muted

Con

I agree with the definition of mind.

The example of "creativity" presented by Pro, I would point out is not exactly creativity. This is because the programmer has instituted limitations on the program and thus what comes out is randomness. Creativity has to deal with imagination and originality. These two qualities are something that AI can never reproduce. It may reproduce pseudo versions of the two, though.
Creativity is something that I doubt can be fully explained by chemical reactions.

I do not dispute that thinking is done in the brain. I dispute that thought is part of the body. This is because thoughts are arbitrary. Chemical reactions, however, are not arbitrary.

There is also the problem of relativism. This deals directly with the questions I asked in the previous round. How are we to know that when we think that the thoughts we think are made up of chemical reactions is in itself made up of chemical reactions? (I understand this can be hard to understand)

I have nothing to dispute in the second syllogism. All that is currently being disputed is whether or not the mind is part of the body.

I believe one is made up from the bulk of the same atoms for the most of one"s adult life. This is because the cells are recycled and the atoms are reused. Again and again. Depending on which baryon Pro is talking about and what sort of change. I will use the example of the neutrinos. There are only four flavours. Last time I checked, anyway. In an infinite amount of time the chances for it to return to the original type is 1.

Pro is talking about the change in the position of an electron. There is a finite number of positions for an electron to be. Unless it "flies" from the nucleus. Thus, like the neutrinos, there is only so many possibilities and it is fulfilled, over, and over again.

If one were to consider the whole "person" as a whole unit, then that "person" can never change. If one were to consider this person in the cellular level, he changes constantly. If one was to consider this person in the atomic level, he is constantly changing and will at some point in time always revert back to the original form.

I would like to note here that the fallacy of whole-to-parts also has a reverse known as parts-to-whole.

No sources needed.

In conclusion, I would like to note that on three different levels, Pro would win on one, and I would win on two.
Debate Round No. 3
Torvald

Pro

While my opponent is somewhat correct in saying that most modern computer technology is highly limited, I would challenge him to provide any documentation whatsoever that supports either of his two claims, that AI cannot reproduce imagination and originality, and that creativity is something that cannot be explained by chemical reactions.

A thought is a specific neural pattern, a combination of biochemical reactions and electricity. You are wrong, that chemical reactions are not arbitrary. They have characteristics, but they can be totally arbitrary.

If I understand what you're saying, you're questioning how we know our thoughts are made of chemical reactions? If that's right, then we know this by research, on the brains of humans and other primates, and active scans, like the ones I mentioned in the last round. If not, please clarify.

Okay, so we're only disputing whether the mind is part of the body. That specifies things nicely.

Ah, the same combination of electrons in the same state occurring twice on a level as large as eukaryotic life is highly unlikely. A single atom might revert to a basically identical original form, but for them all to revert to the same combination will most likely not occur.

Please elaborate on your statement, that a person as a whole unit never changes. It may be a unit, but an unchanged and unchangeable unit? Maybe it would be a person, but not the same person.

To respond to my opponent's conclusion, I don't think it's up to him to decide who wins.
Muted

Con

I would accept the challenge to provide documentation of my claims only if Torvald provides documentation of the claim that "I think you will find that 'creativity' can be generated by an elaborate set of computer algorithms." Otherwise, no.

Ok, chemical reactions can be arbitrary. Then what is the definition of arbitrary? According to google, it is "Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system."

We know, however, that chemical reactions are not based on random choice. If I take a concentration of sodium and another of chloride, and mix them, there will be common salt. Nothing arbitrary about that.
The chemical system is reasonable. If it was not, we would blow our heads off in a chemical lab in ten minutes.

Then it comes to the idea of, can we tell which molecules collide with which? No we cannot, but the way the molecules collide does not have an impact, or at least much of an impact, on our thoughts.

Only partially understood. I will rephrase the main portion of the question. How do we know that the research we are seeing (Which I am not disputing) are not merely chemical reactions in our mind? Perhaps everything that we perceive is merely chemical reactions.

I am not disputing that the possibility of my suggestion is so low as to be practically impossible. I am, however, speaking theoretically, and theoretically, it is possible.

To elaborate on my statements about person, Is you, you now? Or are you no longer you?

The person is the same in the sense that he is not any different as a whole. The characteristics of the parts of a whole does not necessarily determine the characteristics of the whole itself. Vise Versa also applies.
Thus, even though the atoms may be changing, the person remains the same.

In conclusion, Pro is right on that. I should have said probably.

This has been an interesting debate. I have learnt, from Pro"s sources, some things about the medical world that I have yet to see in my textbooks or through surfing the internet.
Debate Round No. 4
Torvald

Pro

Complex Algorithms
My opponent has, in a way, asked for documentation of the claim that creativity can be generated by an elaborate set of computer algorithms. Well, here's an example:

It's widely accepted that creativity can't be copied by machines. Reinforcing these assumptions are hundreds of books and studies that have attempted to explain creativity as the product of mysterious processes within the right side of the human brain. Creativity, the thinking has been, proves just how different people are from CPUs.

But now we're learning that for some creative work, that simply isn't true. Complex algorithms are moving into creative fields—even those as nebulous as music A&R—and proving that in some of these pursuits, humans can be displaced.
-Christopher Steiner, How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World [6]

This quote, is, of course, just a quote by an author, but the site, were you to visit it, contains an entire article on how computer applications are now becoming advanced enough that they are able to write and evaluate music, even to an extent better than humans can.

Chemical Reactions
When I say that a chemical reaction may be arbitrary, I do not mean that a chemical may behave in a way that is not defined by a series of characteristics. However, if you were to mix sodium and chlorine in a vat of water, not only would you have a big explosion and substantial quantities of sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, which would then form sodium chloride and water, you would have chemical chaos. You might eventually wind up with crystals forming in that vat, but it won't be in an orderly manner, and, when I say arbitrary, I think we can agree that it appropriately connotates chaos.

The Things Too Small to Feel and See
My opponent states "Then it comes to the idea of, can we tell which molecules collide with which? No we cannot, but the way the molecules collide does not have an impact, or at least much of an impact, on our thoughts."

A. The way the molecules collide produces your thoughts.

B. Studies show that thoughts change over time, as a result of the way those molecules collide.

It may be tempting to take an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to chemical reactions in the brain, but they are no less important because of their small size. You may not be able to see them, but they certainly are important--they define you. A single extra protein can completely change your entire mind, leaving you a different person (example: prions). You must not underestimate what chemicals do and can do; you're made of them.

Yes! You have hit upon the point! Everything that is made of matter simply is a series of chemical reactions. I can type this right now because of the energy produced by chemical reactions in the battery of my laptop. I am physically able to type because chemical reactions in my brain produce both the will and coordination, and the electricity to order my body to type. I am physically able to read this because chemical reactions in my brain are interpreting information compiled from the image sent it by my eyes. I can understand this because of a complex series of chemical reactions in my frontal and temporal lobes.

What is a Person?
I may have the same basic identity that I did a few seconds, even a mere instant before, but technically, I am always changing, always different. With every breath, I am exhaling some of the carbon molecules of which I am made. With every movement, I am adding new oxygen molecules to my musculature. I may still be 'me,' but I am changed from who I was every instant prior to now. Being a slightly different person than I have been before, I am not the same person, since 'different' is pretty much the opposite of 'the same.'

A person is never 'not any different as a whole'! One may look the same, one may act the same, but that person is always changing! The atoms that make up the person change, and thus, the person changes! The person is those atoms. When those atoms change, the person changes. A person is no more than atoms, passing on what is superficially the same identity for a lifetime. Stop the changes in those atoms and molecules, that person instantly dies. As in a desert or river, a person's components, atoms and molecules, like grains of sand or molecules of water, are always being eroded and replaced, retaining the same basic image, but never remaining the same.

"You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on..." -Heraclitus [7]

Sources:
[6] http://www.technologyreview.com...
[7] http://en.wikiquote.org...
Muted

Con

Now that Torvald has provided documentation of his claims, I will explain my own.
My reasons for stating that creativity is due to imagination and originality is that it is part of the definition of creativity.
From Google Dictionary: The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.

While I agree that computers can do certain things faster than the human mind can, I disagree about its creativity. I would say instead that what we see algorithms do is pseudo-creativity. Originality may in some form be reproduced, but not imagination. These qualities are not in any way mysterious, by the way.

Chemical chaos is not arbitrary. Yes, we would get an explosion, heat, etc. These are after all just characteristic of this particular chemical reaction. Not in any way arbitrary.

I agree absolutely with everything under the header "The things too small to Feel and See."

However, this was not the point of my argument. My argument was about the Uncertainty Principle, which I assume everyone is familiar with. In this argument I was conceding the idea, before it came up, that the exact way chemicals react, as in which molecule with which, is arbitrary.

I will not dispute much under the header "What is a person?" This is because I have already addressed the idea, logically false, of parts-to-whole.

Let us look at the quote and use that as an analogy of what happens to the human body. The Earth is a mostly, if not totally, closed system in regards to its water. The water runs away. true. What about the water running back? Is it the same water in the river? (Assuming it is untouched by organisms) Yes it is! There is actually a high probability, I won"t give the number, that every molecule of water would return to the place where the observer steps in.

How do we know that? Because we looked at things from a wider point of view and thus is able to draw a more accurate conclusion.

It is like gathering much data to find a small insignificant conclusion.

With this, I will pass the debate to the voters.

This has been an interesting debate. Thank you Torvald for starting it. :D
Debate Round No. 5
66 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Muted 4 years ago
Muted
I'm joking.
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
Don't feel bad. You did well.
Posted by Muted 4 years ago
Muted
I will weep and cry. I have lost this debate!
Posted by Muted 4 years ago
Muted
@Cometflash, as I do not wish to receive further notifications, please stop responding. If you really want to debate that with Torvald, send him a challenge. I'm sure you'll benefit from more debates! :D
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
Being never the same age twice is totally irrelevant. But whether it is relevant or not is also not relevant, because this is the comment section, and the debate is over.
Posted by Cometflash 4 years ago
Cometflash
@Torvald

There are other things to consider too, age for instance. One is never the same age.

To have a possibility of being the same person, you can't just have 10 out of X on the list, you must have the whole X number precisely the same.

I haven't have the time to read everything yet, but I'll try to take some time later on to do so, and try to go point by point if I can.
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
@Cometflash, the experiences of a person are recorded with atoms. Remove all atoms in the world, and suddenly there are no experiences. I'm sorry if you can't imagine how someone can be the same twice. Perhaps, if you were to read the debate, and perhaps examine the sources, you'd learn a little bit more about it.
Posted by Cometflash 4 years ago
Cometflash
@Torvald
A person is more than just atoms, they have experiences. The structure of a person might become the same as it was at some point in time, but it does not mean that person would be exactly the same as before.
I cannot think of any possible way on which would result in a possibility of a person being the same way as they were at one point before.
Posted by Torvald 4 years ago
Torvald
@Madman, the general consensus would not seem to agree with you. Why do you say so?
Posted by RationalMadman 4 years ago
RationalMadman
Torvald you should have lost this but oh well.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
TorvaldMutedTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: This whole debate came down to whether persons are identical to their parts. Pro said they were and Con said they weren't. Pro gave arguments for his point of view, but Con gave mostly assertions. Con did not grapple with the arguments Pro gave. Although Pro won the debate, it pains me to give points to Pro since, if Pro is right, the person I'm giving points to is not the same person who defended Pro's case. :-)
Vote Placed by PolitelyDisagreeable 4 years ago
PolitelyDisagreeable
TorvaldMutedTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both were polite and had good grammar. However, Pro backed up his arguments better with better sources.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 4 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
TorvaldMutedTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Very well argued from both sides, but their can only be one winner. Con made a strong argument in saying that, given an infinite amount of time, the odds of being the same person twice is 1, however since we don't live forever I must conclude that the constant change occurring in our bodies does, in fact, make us a different person every moment, even if the difference is not obvious immediately.
Vote Placed by RationalMadman 4 years ago
RationalMadman
TorvaldMutedTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro assumed that one is NEVER (keyword for my vote and which he never justified the use of the entire five round) the same person twice. Con pointed out this flaw and severely tore it apart. However the source of pro were more reliable.
Vote Placed by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
TorvaldMutedTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Engrossing debate. For me, the question seemed to turn on "who not what" a person is. At times, the discussion seemed to demonstrate this as its crux, at other times, it seemed to float away from it. I gave sourcing to Con - who also did very well in his explanations. (part-whole=whole-part... brilliant.) Because I interpreted this as a who-what a person is debate, the arguments go to Pro, who I felt focused on this question the most.