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Conversation on Immortality
From the point of view of Nature, a Self is a function of collectivity and a constellation of collectivity. The Self does not simply exist for itself but, through the institution of Selfness, for collectivity, and, through the institution of collectivity, for itself. Collectivity and collective life are not only outside the Self, but within it. The root of the Self is, as we have put it, a relation. And the more important, the more irreplaceable the relation is for the collectivity, the more, we are entitled to assume, is there of Self. A Self is the stronger, the more it is relevant to its kind and not the more egocentric it is. And the more it represents a particular relation, i.e.. the more it can contribute something that nobody else can to the evolution of its kind, the more it is a Self and the more it is likely to persist, even as a changed Self. There may be a hint here of a source , a way that the justice of reality has of possibly dispensing with heaven and hell.
L. I cannot help feeling that your 'changed Self 'comes dangerously close to a 'different Self'.
B. That is no objection. In a sense, it is. But in another sense, it is not. It is rash, in my view, a sign of annoyed impatience, to hold that one does not care about what one does not know, to jeer at an identity of which one is not conscious in the normal sense. That means one is confusing what we know and what we are. We know what we are only in a very superficial way.
L. But it is sufficient.
K. Excuse me interrupting. (To L) If you had the choice between annihilation and becoming somebody else - which would you prefer?
L. That is no choice. It means the same, either way, for me.
K. Does it really? Imagine for one moment that the well-known epistemological oddity of solipsism were true and that you were the only person to exist and that you had plans and ideas that would make life and existence worth while for yourself, even extremely desirable, definitely preferable to non-existence and that you would even be able to realize these. Plans and ideas to which you are so attached that it would be right to say that they belonged to the essence, the center of your personal nature, to your Self. Now, faced with the same alternative, to be annihilated - and with you, I know, the whole thing is a phantasmagoria and a supposition - or to become somebody else, someone who would do exactly what you would have done, which would you choose?
L. Maybe -1 would choose the latter.
K. If you identify Self and consciousness, no. If you take the Self as encompassing more than consciousness, yes. Or at least, there is nothing impossible about such a transformation.
(The sirens sound the 'all clear'. The raid is over)
D. The sirens.
L. (to B.) I hope that you are not so conceited as take that signal to apply to what you have said.
B. What do you mean?
L. That it is 'all clear'!
B. No, I don't. (Laughter)