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Mpls, MN, United States

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Schrödinger

Yet each of us has the undisputable impression that the sum total of his own experience and memory forms a unit, quite distinct from that of any other person. He refers to it a 'I'. What is this 'I'?

If you analyse it closely you will, I think, find that it is just a little bit more than a collection of single data (experiences and memories), namely the canvas upon which they are collected. And you will, on close introspection, find that, what you really mean by 'I', is that ground-stuff upon which they are collected. You may come to a distant country, lose sight of all your friends, may all but forget them; you acquire new friends, you share life with them as intensely as you ever did with your old ones. Less and less important will become the fact that, while living your new life, you still recollect the old one. 'The youth that was I', you may come to speak of him in the third person, indeed the protagonist of the novel you are reading is probably nearer to your heart, certainly more intensely alive and better known to you. Yet there has been no intermediate break, no death. And even if a skilled hypnotist succeeded in blotting out entirely all your earlier reminiscences, you would not find that he had killed you. In no case is there a loss of personal existence to deplore.

Nor will there ever be.
--Erwin Schrödinger, from Epilogue, What is Life?, 1943

1 comment:

Yes Is A World said...

I love this quote.

I wonder what he would have to say about our collective unconscious...

We talked about Schroedinger's Cat today in class. I think I should read more (uh, some) of him.