Here is an interesting article for the quantum physicist’s in the forum. I am not one but the title sucked me in and now I don’t feel confident that I am really me.
The article opens with the story of Martin Guerre (I had not heard of this story) but it is a famous story of a 16th century peasant who left his home and family under the cloud of being a thief. He returns sometime later and reunites with wife and they have more children. Eight years later a man shows up in the village claiming to be Martin and accuses the other Martin of identity theft. Needless to say this sets up quite a dilemma for the local folks but easy enough to settle or is it?
The early vitalist philosophers had a ready answer: Each of us is distinguished by a divine soul, our physical bodies mere puppets animated by our invisible selves. But science has eroded this answer, and sought identity in the physical body itself: At a microscopic level, promises the reductionist dream, there must be something to distinguish each one of us from another. A hard-nosed foundation for our identity, one made of molecules and atoms.
Here are few excepts from the article that I thought would stimulate some thought:
The identicalness of electrons—of all particles—not only cripples the concept of a thing, but also the concept of space, revealing them to be opposite sides of the same feeble coin. It is a clue that there is something wrong with the way that we cut the world into parts. A clue to a kind of holism, an underlying oneness.
“That’s a weird and beautiful idea,” Pesic continues. “Not one of our components—no electron, no proton—has any kind of stamp on it. But together they exist in a state that becomes sufficiently complex that it can then be distinguished from the state of every other person who’s composed of the same indistinguishable electrons and protons.”
Is there an apologetic here or an atheistic polemic? I generally stop thinking about who we are at the DNA level but if the building blocks that makes up my DNA is indiscernible from my neighbors and the only thing that identifies who we are is a complex state is something that I have to noodle on. So, the real question is what makes all the electrons be me?