Reasons and Persons by Derek Parfit

Consider the claim that the Universe was not created by a benevolent God.

Derek Parfit

Rediscovering Reasons and Persons:
A Journey of Reflection and Growth

Once upon a time, nestled in the corner of a quaint library in Northern Ireland, there stood a long narrow metal bookshelf. This particular bookshelf was quite special, standing proudly as if towering towards the heavens. The bookcase silently witnessed the transformative power of knowledge, as readers like myself found inspiration within its shelves. They held a treasure trove of wisdom and insights on our interconnectedness with the world and beyond. This particular bookshelf held a collection of philosophical works.

Among these books was a gem called “Reasons and Persons.” With its intriguing title and profound ideas, it captured the attention of my curious mind seeking to explore the depths of human existence.

The library was my sanctuary of knowledge. As a teenager, I found myself grappling with the profound ideas presented in Reasons and Persons, particularly the section that explored the concept of personal change.

exploring the methodology of personal change

By exploring the methodology of personal change, symbolized by the notion of people traveling to another planet. The book presents the idea that instead of physically transporting oneself to a new world, one’s personal data would be transmitted while the physical body remains on Earth, allowing a new version of oneself to exist and flourish on the distant planet. This intriguing notion challenges our understanding of identity and raises profound questions about the nature of self and the implications of such a transformative process.

Initially, the process was a simple one-to-one transfer. A person steps into the teleporter on Earth, presses the button, and their entire body and everything else is transformed into data and sent to Mars. The data is then reassembled on Mars, following a similar process seen in Star Trek.

As technology progresses, a new and secure teleportation system has been developed to address concerns about cost and potential data loss. With this advanced system, individuals step into the teleporter with confidence, knowing that a thorough scan of their data will be transmitted to Mars. Once on Mars, scientists utilize the data to recreate an accurate copy of the person.

The person on Earth will step out of the teleporter and remain alive for 5 more days until their natural resources run out. The new copy on Mars will continue as normal. It is worth noting that both the original person and their copy will maintain constant communication throughout this entire process.

two individuals coexisting at the same time

The idea of two individuals coexisting at the same time perfectly captures the notion of personal growth and transformation. It implies that there is an older version of oneself and a newer, improved version. Although they are the same person, both individuals possess a strong desire to live and thrive, with no intention of giving up on life. While the seasoned individual is well-versed in all aspects, the newcomer is still navigating their way. In a clever twist, the experienced person outsmarts the novice and regains control once more.

From a young age, I understood that true transformation requires the new version of oneself to surpass and outlast the old. It’s crucial to acknowledge that the old version may resist this change, as its sole purpose is to extinguish the new and improved you.

transformation requires
the new version of oneself to surpass and outlast the old

Reasons and Persons written by the brilliant philosopher Derek Parfit. Was first published in 1984 and has since become one of the most influential works in moral philosophy.

The book explores a wide range of topics related to ethics, personal identity, and rationality. Parfit’s main goal is to examine the ways in which our moral decisions and personal choices are interconnected. He questions the traditional views of morality and poses new and thought-provoking ideas. Parfit uses rigorous logic and compelling arguments to challenge common intuitions and encourage readers to reconsider their own moral beliefs.

Do give yourself at least 5 years to read, and lifetime to understand.

Like my cat, I often simply do what I want to do.

Derek Parfit

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