Parallel Selves – Is The Happiness Of Another You Worth Your Own Sacrifice? [Part 2]

Fate Stay Night Fate/Stay Shirou Archer Unlimited Blade Works

Part 1

Thank you to everyone who answered the questions in last week’s posts! There was a lot of variation in how people answered and i’ll feature a couple of those responses after i’ve given you Scenario B to ponder.

As for me, i’m not entirely sure whether I would sign straight away. Taking someone else’s life is not something I would do easily but losing my own for someone I don’t really know is another thing entirely. If I didn’t sign at that first junction, however, the sister’s appearance would convince me. While I may not know the person I was before the accident they have someone that loves them and needs them. Others suggested that it wouldn’t matter as long as they took care of her but that’s not an attitude I would be comfortable taking. If for some reason I was unable to sign at that point and things progressed to the third stage, I would then have lived long enough that my life would mean too much for me to give it up. At that point it would seem that i’ve managed to take care of my/his sister and would have made my own memories with her, rendering my previous misgivings moot. As I said though, things probably wouldn’t get that far anyway.

This second one involves the concept of time travel, so for the sake of discussion we’re going to ignore any paradoxes that may or may not feature.

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Scenario B

December 20th, 2013. Having just returned home after a long day out, you sit down in front of the computer to check your emails. Before you’ve had a chance to read anything, though, your screen turns black. You curse as you begin to search for what’s gone wrong, before flinching back in surprise as your screen flares to life with a crackle of electricity. Squinting, you are surprised to see that your familiar desktop isn’t what’s on display. What’s even more surprising however, is that a strangely familiar-looking figure features centre-screen. And what’s more, your distinctly 2D monitor has begun to display brilliant 3D images. The figure in front of your screen speaks.

“Listen, I know you must be surprised right now, but we haven’t got much time.”

The figure goes on to explain that they are you from the future. Their comprehensive knowledge of every embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced convinces you.

“There’s something I need you to do for me.” They continue. “X is at stake. You’re the only one that can Y and fix things. I’ve taken too long – it’s in your hands now.”

Sparks fly from your monitor as the figure winks out of existence, smoke soon following. You weren’t able to ask any of the questions you wanted to, though you’re sure that what just happened is real. 

Do you trust this person, this you from the future? Would exactly how far in the future they were from make a difference to this?

If you did trust them, would you comply with what they wanted? 

If X affected your personal life? A stranger you hadn’t met yet? Your friends and/or family? The world?

If Y was simple but time-consuming? If it required you to stop working/studying to devote your full attention to it? If it required you to harm another person or group of people? If it required you to harm yourself? 

While the other you was in a hurry, you still have time to think about all of this and have continued with your normal life. In the middle of the day as you walk down the street, pondering this new development, you hear someone calling your name. Looking up, you notice someone waving at you from a nearby café. As you approach you realise it’s a distinctly older version of the person that contacted you the other day. After the initial amazement of really meeting oneself wears off, the future you explains that, many years after contacting you the first time, they managed to develop real time travel, and so here they are. They realise that what they asked you to do may have been hard to accept, so they’re here to complete the job personally. They thought it was only fair that they warn you, though they also stress that they will not tolerate you getting in their way. 

Thinking back to what future you requested, does meeting yourself in the flesh change how you feel about it?

If you agree with what must be done, do you help them?

If you disagree, do you stop them, even if it means ending their life?

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And now for answers from last week! So this post doesn’t become too long, I have randomly chosen a selection of responses from my blog and the Fuwanovel forums. Any editing I have done is only to make things work for this post, I have not altered the opinions in any way.

Nohman:

Nohman Avatar

1. I’d sign, no question. I don’t know why someone wouldn’t otherwise, barring any skepitcism over the situation. Identity is very important. It helps us interpret the world and colors how we respond to things. It’s where we start when we look to create meaning in the things around us. Memories are a pretty big part of identity.

2. It’d be further motivation to sign the consent form. However, even if you didn’t undergo the procedure I wouldn’t say she’s lost you. You wouldn’t cease to exist to her, it would be weird to think you’d just disappear from her life or she from yours.

3. I might have lost the plot a bit. I think I understand what you’re going for with the questions, but I don’t get why I’d hesitate in the first place to regainour memories. If you woke up a blank slate, you really wouldn’t have anything to lose by undergoing the procedure. You have no memories or sense of identity to lose by regaining your old ones. I wouldn’t think it’d feel like you’re borrowing a life, but rather simply getting back what was yours in the first place. So, going back to the very first part of the prompt, it again seems like a no-brainer to sign. Individuals aren’t individuals solely because of their memories. If that was that was the case, you might say we’re a new person every second or that the things we forget are killing us. I don’t think in the scenario you proposed that I’d think of it as killing my old/new self or creating an entirely new 3rd person.

Nosebleed:

Nosebleed Avatar

1. Considering my own personality and this scenario, I would not sign it. The reason, simply because my understanding of it would be that I would cease existing, death, nothingness, these are things humans fear naturally, consciously or subconsciously, I could not consciously erase myself from existence, even aknowledging my other sellf could have an amazing life with an amazing family and friends, I would not be part of it, I would kill myself for strangers, people I don’t know who, if I don’t sign, might actually get to know and get used to it, they can share memories with me and make new memories with me and I can grow out of the amnesia state without having to kill myself. The other existence I previously had is no longer here, they are dead, the dead don’t rise from their grave and this is a fact, therefore in my opinion it is only natural that I don’t sign it and sacrifice my existence for something that means nothing to me at the time. I’d prefer that nothing to grow into something and lead a happy life with time rather than throw it all away.

2. Using the previous argument, as a follow up, no it wouldn’t feel heavy. There’s no reason for it to feel heavy as that girl can get to know me, to them I’m still the previous being and they aknowledge me as so and I’m sure with time I would aknowledge them as something important as well. As far as her losing her remaining family member I have no reason to feel guilty, I was granted a life and in this life I do not know her so internally it does not affect me in any way, shape or form. So no the contract would not weight down on my consciousness.

3. It’s been a year. My existence and all the people around me became one, I’m already happy with them and I can aknowledge myself as being part of their family. There’s no reason to sign it simply for the fact I’ve already accepted myself, I am human, I have a consciousness, I think therefore I am, I finally came to terms with everything. If nothing is going wrong for me why should I risk getting a bunch of memories from years, maybe decades ago that most likely will only bring grief and could potentially harm my life? There is nothing wrong now, signing the contract is what could make something go wrong and for me is human nature to play it safe. Selfish or not it still results in things staying as they always have for the past year which for me are now normal and how they should be. And as I feel like that I would not sign the contract. It is not the best of both worlds, It’s me putting my ordinary life at stake still, 2 existences being blended together like water and oil, it can’t just work out as fine, that’s why it still wouldn’t weight down on me and why I still would not sign it.

Cobizah:

Cobizah Avatar

1. At this stage I wouldn’t sign I don’t think. “It’s my life, dun dun dun dun!” as the band No Doubt would say.

2. Hmmmm would be feeling a bit of guilt at this stage. To be honest if it was a young child with only “me” to take care of them I’d probably sign the form. I wouldn’t remember anyway so it would be all good.

3. I definitely don’t think it’s the “best of both worlds”. Our memories basically make us who we are – cramming two people’s memories into one person would make it two personalities in one body in my opinion. So like dissociative identity disorder, a bit. So I wouldn’t take the combo pill. Might take the OG original gangster pill if there was a compelling enough reason for me to give up my life.

AceAttorney:

Aceattorney Avatar

I would choose to regain my previous memories. Even though the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy might seem appealing, you are responsible for whatever you did previously and owe it to the people you’ve met to not simply “disappear.” I realize this sounds sort of idealistic, but it’s honestly the path I would choose to take. On the more selfish side of things, past choices, experiences, and knowledge are parts of developing as a person, and denying yourself those memories would only stunt your growth as a person.

 The idea of this other “me” disappearing might seem scary at first, but it really isn’t another person at all. It’s closer to a split personality than another person entirely. Although, assuming such a situation did occur, there’s no telling how my sense of morality and responsibility would or wouldn’t change as a result of this separate “me” forming.

Lifesongsoa:

lifesongsoa avatar

[Taken from second response as it was a more direct answer to the question]

Hearing your take on the question though I can say that yes I would sign. I would do it out of a more selfish desire though. I would do it because I want to know what this other person was. I wouldn’t need a better motivation than that. I don’t think that is necessarily the right answer for everyone and I certainly don’t mind fictional characters who pick differently, it’s mine.

To put it anther way, if you could give me the memories of someone else right now and add them to mine I would probably take you up on that just to satisfy my curiosity. Maybe that someone else has a younger sister and she misses her brother, but there is no way for him to recover. With that in mind, lets say I’m the only one who could take on those memories because of (insert fictional medical reason here.) Would I knowingly take on the burden of experience that belongs to someone else knowing that their baggage would come with it? I’ll have you know that I do pause before answering… I think I would say yes.(in before this is the plot of an incest light novel… actually, I would read that… >_>)

Kai:

Kai Avatar Deluscar Mascot

Oddly, for such an ambiguous situation, my choices seem clear. Let’s first consider the outcomes of both choices.

If you choose to sign the form and regain your former memories before the blow to your head, you will gain your former “self”. What’s more, your cute little imouto won’t be alone and you need not “act” to be someone else.

But then, if you choose not to sign your form – it’s more about deconstructing and reconstructing your very self. After the blow to your head, you lose your name, personality and identity of the previous “self”. So if you choose not to sign it, you will have to reconstruct your own identity. In the meantime, you also have to lie to everyone else with your reconstructed identity.

Seeing the outcomes, I can’t see any merits in not choosing to sign it, you lose more than you gain it. Besides that, you are pretty much a newborn after the accident, what with the lack of identity, knowledge and experience, so I can’t see anything to lose by losing this “second” identity.

The third choice seems like even more of an obvious, miraculous choice and the best of both worlds, lol.

But then again, I’m totally speaking from a third person here. Perhaps I may feel and act differently if I actually experienced the phenomenon, which is unlikely.. anyway.

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And that’s all for this week! Don’t worry if your comment didn’t make the blog this time around as i’ll be making an effort to include responses from different people in the next post (if anyone else replies, that is =P).

Part 3

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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7 Responses to Parallel Selves – Is The Happiness Of Another You Worth Your Own Sacrifice? [Part 2]

  1. This is quite a tricky scenario you have created. To me, it pretty much depends on what X and Y is. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been too happy about changing my entire life or something. But whether it’s for a stranger or the world, I would try to help as far as reasonably possible. I should probably trust myself anyway. Either way, wouldn’t the future me know my answer already? I don’t think I’d end someone’s life though. It seems too surreal.

    Moreover (and a little off topic), I think it’s easy for us to say what we would have done in such situations, but I doubt we would honestly go through with that if we ever ended up in them for real. We may think we know ourselves but I find that this is often not so true after all.

    All I know is that I would’ve thought it over, tried my best to do what I think is right according to my own morals, and helped if I could. I mean, it’s myself asking me to do something, and they came all the way from the future to ask me this favour. Must be important, right?

    • Silvachief says:

      At what point would whatever X and Y were stop you from helping out? Remember that, to begin with at least, you’ve only had a very brief conversation with the future You. People can change dramatically over time, and the future You may be a very different person with different values; at this stage you can’t assume they’re just like you.

      No one can truly know how they will react to a situation until they’re in it, I agree =) Though it can be fun to speculate on what you might do. As for the future you already knowing your answer, you could consider the Back To The Future model of time where each new development results in an entirely separate branch of time so that future You was never contacted by themselves in their timeline.

      • Never really seen Back To The Future though but I’ll try to imagine it ;P
        I think if Y is something very illegal involving drugs or stealing something valuable or killing someone, I would not do it. If Y involves changing my direction in education or moving to another country I would also try to not have to do that.
        I guess there’s no telling what the future me will end up like but I would also try to assess their credibility before accepting their request. For all I know they might be a drug addict, or extremely successful, I don’t know. There are too many variables here 😛

  2. Lambda says:

    Putting aside the ‘you can’t know til you’re in the situation’ problem which I honestly don’t care about unless you’re gonna talk about how easy it would be to kill someone, this scenario seems really close to quite a few sci-fi stories/thrillers. My own perception of ‘how the situation would go’ is messing with how I would normally answer. In movies, they listen or they’re pretty much dead. Sometimes the warning happens anyway. It’s fate! Destiny! Etc, etc, although the protag always tries and has heart-thumping adventures along the way! But a lot of the time the protagonist’s actions had a positive effect on the future. I can’t say that doesn’t cloud my won opinion a little bit, with an instant “hells yes I believe it’s me!” And anticipating adventure that will (hopefully) only end up in a little hardship for me and a happily ever after.

    Putting that aside (because my first reaction was certainly the above…), I would probably follow the instructions if they’re not too intrusive in my life, but after that it’s really a weighing of how much I fear the future and how much I want my present (I’m a pragmatic coward, after all…) honestly I might end up being terrified but constantly telling myself that the future already changed with said warning, making small adjustments to my life and moving forward. In terms of how eager I’d be to do the actions based on who X affects, the order would probably be Just Me (ex. my health, how much danger my life is in) > Stranger I’d Never Met (I have to say that if my future self is asking me to do something to affect a stranger, they must be close to me in the future) = Family > Friends >> My Personal Life > The World (it’s hard to feel as inspired by ‘the world’ as one single person after all).

    At this point I’ll answer another question, I guess, and say that it DOES make a difference how far in the future they came from. If they were from closer to now, I’d be more apt to act. If someone a long way down the line wanted me to make a big change, honestly there’s no telling whether the effects of the change will do anything. I could’ve moved to Ottawa a few years back or stayed in my hometown. I sometimes think about how life would be if I moved to Ottawa, but I don’t blame my problems on the fact I didn’t move there! It’s kind of neat to bring your life down to a few such decision points, but normally one doesn’t decide all their problems come from a choice they made several years back (with the caveat that I am not talking Kane’s theory of the Self-Forming Action or any such theory but rather the gut reaction of whether you’re blaming yourself based on a single decision in the past or not). I’d be trading problems for different problems, in effect (for example trading the harsh competitive environment I’d get with a business degree vs the anxiety I’d have over jobs with an arts degree and that I’m horrible at my job vs doing a subject I just don’t meld with like science). While yes, the problems the me in the computer screen is having seem pretty bad, I’d be hesitant to act based on the idea that this me might face just as many problems.

    Once I actually met the future me, I’d probably become even more passive. They can do what they want, especially since it sounds like it doesn’t involve ‘me’ to any stretch. I think I’d still be skeptical about how much effect that one action will have, but if they’re not constantly in my ear telling me what to do (in which case, yes, I’d stop them immediately, it’s a little too much), I wouldn’t get in their way if they can perform it themselves.

    …I wrote a lot. And it’s three (almost four…?) days after you made the post! And brackets appear to be my new favourite thing after commas! Sorry. Both of the scenarios were cool, although my answers to the other one were more immediate, gut answers, these answers kind of changed and evolved and shaped as I typed. As such I’m also sorry if parts don’t mesh and if I had trouble understanding anything, please do let me know.

    • Silvachief says:

      I also have to admit that, given this opportunity, I would be tempted to treat it like I was in a novel and just go along for the ride. Though I think that in reality I would be quite suspicious of what was going on. As i’ve said in a few other comments, just because it’s Me doesn’t mean he has my best interests in mind; the farther in the future he is the more different from me he will have become and it’s for this reason that I agree with you about the distance in the future being a big deal, even if our logic behind that position is different. For small stuff that didn’t have any major effect on myself or others I would probably go along with whatever he wanted but as soon as it came to doing someone harm I would need more that just a vague outline of what was going on.

      Meeting future me and having some of my questions answered would allow me to develop a more firm idea of where I stood. I’m not sure if I would stay passive though. If I agreed, I would help and if I disagreed I would hinder. I can’t really see a situation where I wouldn’t do anything.

      I love comments no matter when they show up, as well as commas (and brackets!). I think your answer is fine though if you could point me towards which poster you were previously it would be much appreciated. I would like to have an avatar picture I can use for when I re-post your responses.

      • Lambda says:

        Ah, if you’re talking about the first scenario, I didn’t post anything because I discovered these yesterday and didn’t want to post on something that was about 10 days old. Answered in my head, though. I also don’t have an avatar because I don’t have my own website and I’m not on Fuwa Fuwa. Sorry. (Feel free to not post my responses if that’s an inconvenience. Just kinda wanted to share/form my own thoughts).

        Oh, that’s an interesting point. Even more reason to side eye the you from the future. On the other hand, honestly if I had the opportunity to help the me in the past, I’d probably take it. I can’t imagine just subjecting them to things that weren’t in their best interests. While I can’t say the me several years from now is the same, I do think the core of our personalities would stay the same. Hopefully. So it’ll probably in my mind be more of a case of future incompetence (thinking that one action changes everything) than maliciousness on my part…

        Hm… I see meeting the future me as someone saying “Look, I’m just as competent as you at this job, maybe even more so, and I’m going to just do it myself”. Okay, cool. I won’t have to do anything, then. Getting my questions answered would be a bonus but if I agree I can’t see myself helping considering how little I was willing to change my life. If I don’t agree, I can’t see myself making a huge deal out of it. Maybe an argument. If the action they’re going to take is morally repulsive to me for little payoff, I suppose I’d start actively interfering. However stopping me in the same way i find repulsive (like killing) is certainly a no-go. Just be more behind-the-scenes, I guess. Like hiring a bodyguard for someone they want to kill, somehow hyping up security when they want to steal. I suppose the prior response was written with the assumption that I’d agree w/future me.

        • Silvachief says:

          That’s no problem at all; I don’t discriminate against people without avatars XD If you do find a picture you like then feel free to let me know.

          I would also like to think that the Me from the future would share my ideals and values but I would keep in mind that it’s entirely possible that something terrible happened to change him. The wishful thinking rather than actual malicious will is also another factor I hadn’t considered.

          I don’t know how I would feel about future me telling me he didn’t need my help XD I’m rather stubborn so there’s a chance I would tag along anyway if it wasn’t too tedious/dangerous etc. If I was against them and we couldn’t come to a verbal agreement then…well, that’s harder to say. I’m not quite able to say that I wouldn’t harm him, though it wouldn’t be an easy decision.

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