Monday, 1 January 2018

Me, You And Timeline 2

From Logic of Time Travel:

Here (maybe) is a subtler alternative history. Call our history timeline 1, then imagine timeline 2 diverging from timeline 1 only at the moment of my conception. (Everyone substitute "your" for "my.") The two cosmic histories are identical until that moment. Genetically, I am the same individual. However, for some (possibly random) reason, as soon I begin to form as a psychophysical organism, different neural connections occur within my brain. My timeline 2 personality is the opposite of my timeline 1 personality. Here, everyone has to imagine a different scenario for themselves. In Indian philosophy, this would be explained as the inheritance of a different set of karmic consequences.

In timeline 2, I would be extroverted, confident, ambitious, focused, directed, successful and influential. My life and career would diverge completely although, at least initially, global history would proceed exactly as in timeline 1. In timeline 2, I might or might not, over time, have a global impact.

An additional fictional premise could be a mental transference between the two versions of me. The timeline 2 persona, maybe owning and directing an international corporation, seems to have a mental breakdown because suddenly he has acquired the memories and sense of personal identity from timeline 1.

I am aware that my life would have been different if I had been different even if everything else had been the same. A point of such fiction would be to reflect on that. Also, we cannot change our personalities by an act of will. A lifetime might be necessary just to understand the limitations and blind spots of whatever personality we happen to have. Also, a hypothetical being with control of our genes and neurons could have brought it about that we were completely different people from the beginning. By doing this, He would in no way interfere with any free choices or decisions that we were going to make as soon as we became able to do so but He could nevertheless have brought it about that we were the sorts of people who would never even consider any actions that were violent, uncompassionate, dishonest etc. Thus, the "free will" theodicy is inadequate. I did not set out to make this point but one philosophical concept always entails others.

1 comment:

David Birr said...

L. Sprague de Camp's The Wheels of If involves just such a transference, the protagonist being flung into the lives of a series of alternate versions of himself.

Also, Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies includes as a factor that one of the main characters has begun having traces of the memories of an alternate version of herself. For a while, she worries that she's going crazy, but eventually grasps that the "walls" between variant realities were temporarily weakened by an incursion of (evil) elves.