Friday, November 6, 2009

Mereological Identity

I love XKCD!  And today's comic strikes that perfect balance between sentimentality and philosophy.

Clearly father is a spatio-temporal continuity theorist of identity.  If the aggregate breaks up, then its GONE.  But daughter is something like a mereological theorist of identity, if you're made up of the same parts, you're the same, or in this case.

I have to give it to father here, since daughter's notion is almost incoherent.  If she is an organ donor, and she continues to exist after her death, then she could exist in multiple places after she is dead, since she has multiple organs that could be donated.  Even worse, her organs are made up of things like tofu chicken nuggets and vegetarian tikka masala (I imagine she's a vegetarian).  So SHE really is just donating some soy protein to others.

If she would exist after death, then the same can be applied to what makes up her organs.  She could continue to exist just as easily as checking the cannibalize box on her driver's license.

What your state doesn't have a cannibalize box?


  1. What *are* you talking about?

    Trying to figure out if I agree or disagree with you, but I don't think I can clearly state your point.

    Except XKCD. That I like too.


  2. Heh.... Okay, maybe I could have been more clear in the post. A spatio-temporal theorist believes that we are the same person (metaphysical identity) so long as we maintain continuity through time and space. So I lose cells, and replace cells, but so long as I remain generally a whole through time and space, I'm the same Wayne.

    But a mereological theorist, a person who believes that we're the same so long as we are made up of the same parts, would say I'm a different person after some time, since I lose and gain cells.

    In the comic, the father is clearly a spatio-temporal advocate.... but the daughter, being a hopeless romantic, thinks that she continues on through the existence of her organs.

  3. Funny, I thought that Daughter was checking the "donor" box because she had learned the lesson that the parts were seperate from the whole and thus no longer had the irrational sentiment that her blocks were sacred after she died.