Yeah, I think swansont has made it very clear we are not discussing any sort of consciousness other than that which potentially emerges from physical structure. Destroy the structure - you've destroyed the consciousness. And in that context if you argue for the existent of duplicate structures, I don't think there's any way to claim that the two (separate) structures house the same consciousness. You'd be talking about two consciousnesses that behaved in very similar ways, but they'd still be distinct.
Of course, by the same token, I'm not entirely convinced that there is a "same consciousness" that exists throughout a person's life or possibly even, at the extreme end, from one moment to the next.
I have a sense of continuity with my "previous selves" but that seems like it's more down to memory than because it's actually true. A perfect duplicate of me would feel that same sense of continuity and believe himself to be me, unless given reason to think otherwise, for just the same reason.
If consciousness is an emergent process then what's to say it isn't somewhat like, say, a fire. The tongue of flame rising from a candle is not "the same" fire from one moment to the next. It's a continual process of new atoms oxidizing to release heat and light. And that heat is what drives the process for new atoms so it maintains a semblance of consistency that way. But there is no thing
there to have a tangible continued existence. You can split the flame by dividing up the fuel source, or "transfer" it to another fuel source by holding something flammable near it. Then you can merge it all back together again in a joint heap up fuel if you want.
Unless you do want to talk about some kind of real, physical soul, I don't see how consciousness is much different in this respect. If consciousness arises from the brain, then it is the pattern, and more specifically the way the pattern continuously changes, that gives rise to consciousness. And that pattern is constantly changing. The physical material that makes up the substrate that the pattern is embedded in and that fuels the changes to the pattern is constantly changing.
If someone duplicated your brain down to the sub-atomic level, there'd be no way to distinguish between the two. True, any consciousness would be separate from your own, but then, you're separate from who you were a few minutes previous before the copy was made, too. What's to say that the you with "the same" brain is the real inheritor of the older consciousness while the "copy" is a new entity? What if you are, in fact, both new entities kicked off from the process that gave rise to the older one the same way that the heat from a flame continually gives birth to a newer version of itself?
What if we took your brain and the duplicate's brain and bisected each at the corpus collosum and then reattached them to the opposite hemisphere of the other brain? You have, again, two identical brains, but now one half of each is original and one half duplicate. Which does "original you" continue to reside in? Either? Neither? Both?
How does brain damage affect the continuity of a consciousness? If it does, what constitutes "brain damage" versus a more "natural" change in the brain? Do we have one consciousness as a child that dies at puberty and is replaced by a different one? Does a concussion "kill" us and replace us with someone else?
The only way I can, at present, reconcile a coherent answer to all of these questions is if consciousness arises fresh and new each moment of subjective experience and there is no continuity except that which is provided by the pattern itself. And, if that is the case, then it would seem to me that any replication of that pattern would have equal standing as a continuation of that earlier pattern.
So while a coincidental copy of you in some far-flung region of the universe would obviously not be the older version of "you" even if it has the same memories, I would contend that this doesn't much matter because you already aren't the older you, anyway, and neither will the future you that is going to exist on Earth be the current you, either.
Edited by Delta1212, 20 June 2017 - 10:15 PM.