Each time I sleep
I'm sad I will be replaced by somebody else

In the morning
Exactly like me
Going around, drinking all my drinks
Kissing my wife
Thinking what I think
Making me resentful but

Each time I get up in the morning I'm glad
I took someone else's place

--They Might Be Giants, "Sleep" (2013)

Imagine that you die, and meet with god. He gives you two options – either die with no afterlife (as in you utterly cease to exist) or you are sent back to earth with the last 24 hours of your memory erased. Which do you choose? It seems to me that there is really no difference between the two, at least to the current version of ‘you’ that is speaking to god.

--Reddit user Steve_Drambus, Is a break in conciousness equivelant to death?

There's a disturbing secret hiding in plain sight in Star Trek. Everyone you love in the show, everyone you've loved on the show, has died. ... The transporter on the ship breaks down the atoms of each person and thing that steps in, reassembling them on the other side. But that original? That original dies.

--John Wenz, You Don't Want a 'Star Trek' Transporter Because Using It Would Kill You

Is there a word that describes the philosophies expressed in these examples, i.e. that any interruption in consciousness, any discontinuity in the process of body or mind, is equivalent to dying, or at least changing identity?

I considered Monism (the belief that matter and mind are inseparable), but I felt that didn't preclude the resurrection of the mind in a different context given a suitably indistinguishable material substrate (e.g. Star Trek's transporter).

I'm working on a story set in a near future where technology allows for a "neural snapshot" to be taken of a person's brain before death, and then for that snapshot to be downloaded into a freshly produced organic body. Since there's a lot of information that needs to go into each snapshot, they're only uploaded every couple minutes--meaning that every time the process is completed, a couple minutes of memories/experience (those immediately leading up to death) are lost forever. I'm hoping to articulate the in-universe position of people who argue that this technology does not in fact extend life, due to discontinuity of consciousness.

Example of intended usage:

Man, I feel weird about coming back after the accident. I have most of my memories, and I still look and think the same, but there's no getting around the break that happened. I think I'll change my name. Tom's dead, I'm a different person now.

Wow, I didn't know you were a ******.

closed as unclear what you're asking by tchrist Aug 24 '17 at 22:09

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • There is no answer until you settle the issue as to what "consciousness" is. – Hot Licks Aug 11 '17 at 21:40
  • It is worse than you think. See Scientific American "The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett". – ab2 Aug 11 '17 at 22:55
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    I do not understand the close votes. Could someone please explain what the problem is? – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 12 '17 at 1:23
  • primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. – Hot Licks Aug 12 '17 at 1:58
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    Thank you, but believe it or not, I actually can read. Perhaps someone less condescending would care to explain why my question could be considered POB? – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 12 '17 at 2:05

This is pin-dancing pure, simple and pointless.

Please, anyone, name one person other than ApproachingDarknessFish who might consider choosing anything like die with no afterlife (as in you utterly cease to exist) over any option that didn’t include some version of burning in Hell.

Except to a pin-dancer, having the last 24 hours of your memory erased is equivalent to going on a big bender; getting so drunk you’re not just drunk, but suffering from alcohol poisoning.

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    This doesn't even come remotely close to addressing the question I was asking. And I'm not the author of that reddit post and those beliefs aren't mine. I was asking for a word to describe that philosophical position, flawed as I believe it to be. – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 25 '17 at 1:10
  • Really? Did you notice it might take more than one word? There might be people who don't and I do find it perverse of anyone to ask for a single word when it's fairly obvious the only possible answer is going to be a phrase. Would you like to put that to a vote? Do you really think the idea there could be a word to describe the philosophical position that any discontinuity in consciousness is tantamount to death could say more about the philosophy than the questioner? Do you really think an idea as banal as you suggest could present a problem with, for instance a Star Trek transporter? – Robbie Goodwin Aug 28 '17 at 0:51

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