A thought experiment (cont’d)

To what extent are the copies of me in other worlds still me?  A valid question.  I don’t know how far one can stretch the concept of “possible permutations” — but assuming the normal human equipment, an entire world separates me from all my other versions.

I become them only when I act like them.  If I run from violence, I enter the world in which I am a coward.  That is the only world I know.  Somewhere in the infinity of worlds, there are multiple courageous versions of me:  but they are not me at all.

Of course, there must exist an indefinite number of Almost Me:  copies who look, sound, and behave exactly like my present self, except for some trivial difference — they have taken up tap dancing, say, or are fanatical about lacrosse rather than baseball.  Can a trivial difference make a man?  I’ll say this:  if I’m tap dancing, I’m not me.

Since I slide inexorably from one world to another, a relationship undoubtedly exists between Now Me and Next Me.  I’m not flying blind.  I have a vision of the world into which I expect my actions to take me.  Unfortunately, this vision is partial and flawed.  I have been granted the power to act, and to know right from wrong.  I can’t peer across worlds.  I can’t prophesy the future:  only surprises are predictable.

I determine the moral tone of the world I live in, never its material qualities.

For some reason, I find it cold comfort to reflect on the endless series of Better Me, men who were strong when I was weak and generous when I was mean.  Hooray for them, I guess.  Somewhere there is even a Very Best Me, who never once shirked his duty.  All I can say is, I hope he’s bald and ugly.  (But, depressingly, there must exist a me who is perfect in every way.)

Far more rewarding to consider Evil Me — the monster I would become but for my massive exertions of virtue.  Little useful can be said about this cad, other than those who remember the original Star Trek would recognize him instantly:  he’s the me with the goatee.


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