I was thinking recently about things like scars, or just pain in general, these artifacts of events that are forever unchangeable. From time to time we think about it on the country level with nations apologizing for the actions of their ancestors or when we discuss modern feuds that exist only because of events that only live on in text or memories.
But then there is your body, each action that is taken is taken by you in a state of ignorance. That might not seem true but we rarely actually know the full ramifications of the actions we are about to commit to. Lets say you want to ride a skateboard down the road, you know there is a chance that you will be injured but you don’t know the scale of the injury.
If you were to fall and break your arm you instantly find yourself suffering from a decision made by a past you. This you no longer exists, Each step along our path through life is a different frame of a film, while any two frames might look identical there is always some slight difference. Sure it might be difficult to tell that the you that just read this sentence and the you reading the next sentence are different, we tend to only notice the different states of a person on the larger scale.
To take it a step further lets discuss the transporter dilemma from Star Trek. When you are transported in Star Trek your body is disintegrated and the data that makes up the entity that is you is reassembled in a new location. The new body has all the memories and physical appearance of the old one, but the question is if that person is you or if the original you was murdered during the transport.
I would argue that this thing already happens. We are constantly being altered and molded by our experiences. Each state of us believes that it is the same organism as the previous one, each one is seen by the outside observer as being the same person. Yet each one is different, each one is not only different but they are burdened with the memories and actions of all previous incarnations of them.
Do you have pain in your spine? A scar that never faded? How about bad knees or a ruined liver? It is likely that all of these things were from incidents, thoughts, actions, mistakes, that a past you acted out or was a victim of. In each case you have no control over them, these burdens exist with you through every frame of your life (presuming you don’t get them fixed).
In a sense, you are forever a prisoner of people you’ll never meet and for events you cannot control. I suspect this is something of what fatalism hints at. The best way to get an idea of just how vastly different each state of you is I suggest that you write a lot. Every year around your birthday or some other specific date write how you feel about the world and then each following year read each paper you’ve written. I personally can do this because of the internet, I have things written by me as far back as a decade and the difference in who I was and who I am now is beyond vast.
I don’t even know if I could be friends with some of the past incarnations of myself.
So don’t worry about the transporter when it comes, you are already a phoenix, dying and being reborn from each moment to the next.
PS. The reason the past yous make such bad decisions is that they never have to live with them, you do.