The Problem of Methuselah
On either side of Interstate 87, closer to Lubbock, is an unrelenting flood of cotton fields. There is an argument that psychological continuity is what matters for identity; if the memories and beliefs of a person at one point in time are continuous with a person at another time, then they are the same person. Could the objects and symbols and the objects that then become symbols that are held within someone’s continuous psychology also hold some of that psychology? What’s inside and what’s outside? What about in a photo? In the Torah, Bible, and Quran, Methuselah was a man who lived 969 years. Now, Methuselah has become a thought experiment (re: psychological continuity). If there was a person who lived 969 years and that person underwent the same changes of physical appearance, personality shift, and memory loss that occur over a normal life time, could they still be considered the same person through their 969 years? Well, what happens when you forget but others remember? What do photos remember if they document the state of forgetting? Could a cotton bloom remember like Jack remembers? Could it also forget?