When You are No Longer You

The Law of Identity, that is, cannot hold in  process-world ‘where,’ as the mathematical physicist says, ‘every electron has a date and is not identical to itself from one second to another.’ – RAW

I’ve been reading Email to the Universe, the last book Robert Anton Wilson wrote before he concluded his time as a living human being.  He is one of my favorite sources for exploring the inner workings of Taoist thought.  RAW uses the word Process as a translation of the word Tao, which he picked up from Ezra Pound.

One of the distinctions RAW works on in the book is the self-concept (and by extension other-self-concept) held by two basic camps of thought. There are the Western paradigm folks who nail things down into discrete packets of stuff in space. These we can call Spacers.  Spacers are also fond of pointing as the current location a thing holds.  Then there are the more Easter style paradigm peeps who note that a thing changes over time in a continuous process of existence.  This crowd we can call Timers.

Spacers hold that a thing is a self-contained component discrete from other things and stands on it’s own even while being part of larger organizations of things, and conversely composed of smaller discrete things.  A table is a specific thing that is composed of parts like legs, top, joints, etc.

Timers see that a particular thing, say a table, changes over time and is simply the state of the thing as it is now.  A table used to be a tree and will one day be termite food.

The funny and obvious thing is that both camps are right, just from a different view.  We are all nested and nesting in an infinitely complex web of interconnected things.  We also are subject to change over time.

For me this call into question the idea of names.  In the Spacer view it is sufficient for a person to have a specific label to track there place in the configuration of stuff that makes up reality.  This is not really sufficient for the Timers though as the Travis that is writing this is vastly different to the Travis who was watching TV while living at home twenty years ago having never even thought of being a writer.  So, it makes sense to attache a time stamp to the name-label to keep track of just who we are speaking to, or about, on any given occasion. Since the function of a thing is also affected by where in an arrangement of things it happens to be a locational stamp would be useful too.

This would allow for a much fuller conception of a person to deal with.

That’s what went through my head anyways.  What do you think?


Travis-(s)San Francisco, CA 94110, (t)1/9/2011 ~ 00:32

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