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.