IX*—Moment Universals and Personal Identity1

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 78 (1):141-156 (1978)
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This paper could be thought of as divided into two parts. In the first I show through a series of thought experiments that it is a mistake to think of one’s individual experience as necessarily belonging to only one particular place, time and organism. In repetitions across a universe large enough to host them, the particular experience that one finds oneself in, which can be individuated only by the detailed type that is the entirety of its momentary subjective content, would exist equally in every occurrence of that type, much as a moment in the plot of a novel would exist equally in every copy of that novel. Each distinguishable subjective moment of experience is thus a ‘moment universal’. In the second part of the paper I draw from this the conclusion that there could not be any proper possessors of lines of experience - that there are no proper persons - no continuing subjects of consciousness and self-interest. About five years after writing this paper I came to see that the particular identity of an experience could not be confined by types of momentary subjective detail any more than it could be confined by particular places, times or organisms. All experience is equally here, now and mine and all conscious organisms are equally I. My argument for this crucial further development is presented in ‘One Self – The Logic of Experience’, Inquiry 33 (1991): pp. 39-68.

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